These are just bits and pieces of information in no particular order or importance that may help those of you abroad who research your ancestral links to the Roe valley.

Monroe Notes.
General Notes and Images of Interest.

The meaning of the names Benbradagh, Roe and Myroe.

The names of places and areas in Ireland can in the majority of cases be identified as being of Irish origin or perhaps from the "Anglicised" Irish names that resulted after the English speaking settlers arrived in Ireland and Ordinance Surveys carried out mainly by officers of the Crown. In quite a few cases opinions differ on name source interpretation even by scholars of the Irish language. Like all languages Irish itself has gone through many changes through the centuries and perhaps most in the very recent past.This is a very complex subject.
Benbradagh. Anglicised from the Irish name An Bhinn Bhradach the "treacherous or dangerous peak". Benbradagh stands close to Dungiven and rises to about 465 Meters. It is mainly in the townland of Derryduff. Two alternate explainations of the name are Meabh Bhradach a treacherous or dangerous woman called Maeve. Another Irish name for the mountain was Gealbhinn a bright or white peak which is associated with the now named river Gelvin a stream which rises to the west of the hill and flows into the Roe north of Dungiven. Benbradagh is in the parish of Dungiven and the barony of Kennaght. It is of interest to note that parish close by Benbradagh is called Bovevagh from the Irish meaning Maeve's hut or monastic site. Perhaps Meabh Bhradagh would be a more accurate name for what is now referred to as Benbradagh.
Roe. In the case of the river Roe whose name our magazine is based on "The Winding Roe" we have to date been less certain of its origin. The Roe is obviously an Irish river and because of pride factors etc local people tend to accept the "Irishness" of the name. Various "Irish" sounding names have been put forward and many have very plausible explanations of how the name has evolved into "Roe". Some do not. Some that come to mind associated with the Roe area are An Ro, Abahnn Ro, Bunro, Mac An Rothach, Monadh Ruadh, Moin Ruadh, Mawn Ro, and Mun Ro. Some of these from Scots and some from Irish Gaelic researchers.Many take the view that the river name is derived from the Irish for "red river" mon rua. Rue being red. It is known that there are many rivers all around the world whose name reflects either the colour of the water flowing therin or a colour reflected by the river bed. There are many Blackwater rivers and streams in Ireland but these generally related to a "blackness" reflected from the bed of the river not the actual colour of the water. However it would be very difficult if not impossible to link the word red to the actual river Roe itself. There are some areas of reddish rock around the area but it in my opinion does not really influence to any extent the linking of a specific "red" colour to the water therein. I feel that there are several channels to investigate as to the name ie an Irish name scenario or a Norse name scenario. Let us make a few observations on this.
Because of Irelands historic and in many cases confrontational relationship with its immediate neighbour England focus has been lost on other nations who came in some numbers in early times. The Vikings in particular circa 800 - 1000 A.D. It is known that in their excursions along the north coast of Ireland they did in fact sail up both the Foyle and Swilly rivers. They had at a time a base at Dunnalong about five miles up the river Foyle past the present city of Derry. Dunnalong from the Irish Dun a fort na meaning of and long meaning a longship hence the "fort of the long ships" ie the Norsemen. Quite a lot is known about their various invasions of the coastline of Ireland and its river inlets. Indeed Vikings contributed greatly to the development of Dublin, Waterford and Wexford and Wicklow. However they were active in many other rivers estuaries in their raids. If one looks at the history of the Strangford peninsula of Co. Down on the N.E. coast of Ireland we know that this area was visited many times by Viking boats operating from the western coast line of Scotland. Strangford Lough is a very tidal lough with a very narrow inlet into which the tides of the Irish sea race in and out at some 10 knots. This obviously caused the Viking boatmen some concern hence they called it "Strangerfjord" the "stormy fjord" this later being Anglified to Strangford. If one looks at the history of the Vikings especially the book on the Viking Sagas called Heimskringla written in Iceland between 1178 and 1241 mention is made of "Hroe the White". Further research shows the actual word "hroe" comes from the old Norse tongue.
In Snom Sturlsons sagas of the Norwegian Kings Vol 4 Chapter 63 and 59 comment is made that:
There the Swedish king's dominions begin, and he had set officers over this country; namely, Eilif Gautske over the north part, and Hroe Skialge over the east part, all the way to the Gaut river. Hroe had family friends on both sides of the river, and also great farms on Hising Island, and was besides a mighty and very rich man. Eilif was also of great family, and very wealthy.
Here is a sample from Chapter 63.

Hroe's Fall.

bout spring-time (A.D. 1017) King Olaf sent a message that Eyvind Urarhorn should come to him; and they spake together in private for a long time. Thereafter Eyvind made himself ready for a viking cruise. He sailed south towards Viken, and brought up at the Eikreys Isles without Hising Isle. There he heard that Hroe Skialge had gone northwards towards Ordost, and had there made a levy of men and goods on account of the Swedish king, and was expected from the north. Eyvind rowed in by Haugasund, and Hroe came rowing from the north, and they met in the sound and fought. Hroe fell there, with nearly thirty men; and Eyvind took all the goods Hroe had with him. Eyvind then proceeded to the Baltic, and was all summer on a viking cruise.

The Vikings came mainly from the coastal areas of Sweden, Norway and Denmark. In their many voyages though they generally explored the rivers of the countries visited in many cases many remained and indeed settled and integrated into the local communities. One such place was Normandy where their language was assimilated into Norman French giving probably a slightly different language dropping off the letter H for instance in Hroe etc. which brings us back to the river Roe in Co. Derry. Now was it the Vikings who named the river or was it the next generation of invaders, the Normans who gave the river its name? The word Ro translates from Norwegian and Swedish to "calm" or "peaceful". Was the word used by the Vikings all those centuries ago to denote a place that they all could recognise? There would be few port or place names for them to identify as their destination in the countries visited so the word Ro would be the destination placename all would recognise on a trip around the north coast of Ireland, a fairly rough trip no doubt!. The mouth of the "Ro" would be indeed a peaceful destination.
Another example of the Vikings having destination placenames when they set off on their trips would be Wicklow south of Dublin. Wicklow was founded by the Vikings 870 A.D. The name was initially Vikinglow meaning "meadow of the Vikings" or more likely Wykynlo meaning "Viking lough" seeing that the inlet was a natural harbour surrounded by rich agricultural land. What is now the town of Wexford was Weisfjord to them. Waterford was known to them as Vadrefjord. Donegal was at one time known as Dun NaGall the fort of the foreigners ie the Vikings. They also had major inputs into the development of Dublin and Limerick. They also sacked the large monastic site at Clonmacnoise on the river Shannon. They explored Ireland in detail!.
Note: This is a very limited research so far but questions are being asked. It has to be remembered that we are looking at an era over 1,000 years ago and all languages were then as they are now evolving. English was evolving from the languages of the Angles,Saxons and other people who brought their languages with them. In Ireland's cased there would probably a form of Irish in its stage of development as at that time.Thus the arrival of the Norse raiders or settlers would compound the language situation. Nothing really changes it was I suppose "English or Irish or Norse as she is spoken" to quote an aside. However if we look at some of the Norse sagas for example we see ones such as Eireks saga rauoa the saga of Erick the red named as such because of his head of red hair.The word in old Norse rauoa sound awfully like rua the Irish name for the river later Anglified to Roe. Looking at the colour red in other Scandanavia languages one sees similarities in the sound of the equivalent word. We seem always to be coming back to the colour red. Now Erick though said to have a head of red hair we know it was not in fact traffic light red no more than we refer to our friends as having red hair.It is a term used to describe a range of colours between darkish brown to a ginger colour. Were both the Norse men and the local Irish referring to the extensive brownish mudflats and the extensive sandy beaches at Magilligan and Downhill in the neighbourhood of the river?. The first sighting the Viking navigators had of the Foyle was no doubt the long sandy beach at Magilligan as they looked for the neck entrance between what is now Magilligan Point and Greencastle in Donegal to gain entrance into Lough Foyle. They would also use this navigation "marker" as they looked for the entrance to what is now the Lower Bann river near what is now the town of Coleraine. This would be their route into Lough Neagh. I suppose it was different to most other rivers they sailed up which would mostly have outflows amongst the hills and rocky foreshores. Was it from the "sandy" or reddish slab soils that the name Roe comes from?.I feel it might just be. In the early centuries these areas would have been more extensive as I am told areas of these slab lands have been recovered from the sea. However who applied the name first?.It kind of looks like the Vikings as they as navigators would be more interested in coastal features.
Myroe Looking at Irish, Scots Gaelic and Welsh name sources there can be little doubt that Myroe is an Anglicised version of the name Maghroe meaning the plain of the Roe. This is true as the exit of the Roe into the Foyle is basically through a very extensive sandy flood plain.

General notes and Images of Interest

Many of you will have problems finding out very basic information.You will quickly realise that the majority of Irish emigrants into such places as America in the 19th century in particular were simply listed as being "from Ireland" and little else, or perhaps listed as a "laborer or servant". If only a town or village name or more especially a townland name had been recorded your search would be massively easier. Be aware as now the usuage of townland names as address indicators is being weakened as zip or postal codes are being more and more used to suit the modern technology so it is very important you note down the townlands names associated with your ancestors before these names are lost for ever.
From my own personal experience in doing family tree research it is essential you have a good general knowledge of the history of Ireland at the time your ancestors emigrated, why they might have wanted to or indeed be compelled to emigrate. You must also have a good knowledge of the geography of the area from which your ancestors emigrated from and again the local history which may have caused their emigration, was it a forced emigration political or economic or perhaps a "benine" emigration where the landlord paid for their passage out of the country so that he could perhaps enlarge his estate and graze more sheep etc. There were many forces at play.
It will be a great benefit to your research if you understand the background history of and especially the part played by the ruling families of the O'Cathans and O'Neills and their relationships with the English governments of the period pre, during and post 1600. (a) The old map on the Home Page is of interest because it is the oldest I can find showing most of the townlands. Note however the old rail line between Dungiven and Limavady no longer exists though there are many traces of it still in the countryside. You will see reference to it in the Benbradaghs. Now you see where it ran.
(b) Maine townlands Maine North and Maine South are slightly to the west but touch on Drumsurn village.
(c) Straw townland in the parish of Bovevagh lies along the west bank of the Roe close to Leeke townland and close to Burnfoot village on the west bank of the Roe and close to the Burnfoot bridge. For those of you who study American history it was in this townland that Colonel John Haslet founder of the Delaware Regt. a friend of Caesar Rodney, in the War of Independence was born. See image of Straw townland. Lower Drumneecy townland is on the opposite side the the Roe facing Straw townland. Upper Drumneecy townland is on the higher ground above Lower Drumneecy on the east bank.
(d) Camnish townland is contiguous with Scriggan townland. John Mitchel The Young Ireland political activist and father of Capt. John Mitchel the one time Confederate Army commander at Fort Sumter S. Carolina in the Civil War was born here. Capt. Mitchel was killed during the bombardment and is buried in the Magnolia Cemetery at Charleston S.C. He had earlier been in charge of one of the artillery batteries at Fort Moultrie that first fired on Fort Sumter starting the American Civil War.
(e) Ireland has had a very turbulent past and one needs to find a place to "slot in" to its history. In the case of the Roe Valley and with mostly family tree research in mind it is a good point to slot into your research just prior to the Reformation. This will quickly establish the forces political and religious created by the Reformation and how the result would influence the history of this area. The so called "modern" Irish history is generally said to start around 1600. However the fall of the O'Neills, O'Donnells and the smaller O'Cathan families in the very early years of the 17th. century and the subsequent Plantation settlements created the core "modern" history of the Roe Valley.
(f) Be aware that when researching you might find a parish name associated with your ancestor. Fine but be aware that Catholic and Protestant parishes though named the same may cover very different physical areas and different townlands. It all depends upon the particular religious catchment numbers in a specific general area. Most religious groupings have a "focus" point church in their community Catholic or Protestant.
(g) Many of you especially perhaps in the English speaking countries will see surnames that kind of sound like your own surname and jump to the conclusion that this is where your ancestors came from. Sometimes people have surnames linked to where they originate. However also be aware that generally in the Roe Valley area names "as now" are generally formed up by the Anglisation of the old Irish names for places and indeed people. I would refer you to numerous examples of this in the Benbradaghs on this website. Be aware that there are many "revisionists" around who can generate a story around a name!.
(h). Another important factor and here I will generalise to a degree is to assume that if your ancestor was Catholic that he or she must certainly be buried in a Catholic graveyard. Not so. After the Penal era when there were very few Catholic graveyards as such Catholics with the agreement of the local Protestant Clergy (generally Church of Ireland) would be buried in the local Church of Ireland graveyard. Thus be aware that it is essential when you are looking for headstones of your Catholic ancestors you look at the headstones in the local non-Catholic graveyards especially the Church of Ireland ones. As a matter of interest this fact would appear to have been airbrushed out of the history of the Catholic Church in Ireland.
(i). Some of you may find headstones or documents written in the Irish uncial alphabet originated in medieval manuscripts as a variant of the Latin alphabet. It has 18 letters. It was used for printing Irish until quite recently and is still used on road signs and public notices throughout Ireland. See below.

(j). The map below shows the approx. boundaries of the lands of the leading families of Ulster in the late 1500's prior to the downfall of the leading families especially the O'Neills, O'Donnells and O'Cathans leading up to the Plantation of Ulster in the early part of the 17th. century.

(k). Haas townland is a small townland close to the Gortgarn townland marked on the map on Home Page. There is an Upper and Lower Hass. Generally when a townland is named Upper or Lower it indicates its height above sea level relevant to its adjacent same named section of the townland. Can also indicate eight above or below a physical marker eg a local hill etc etc.

Tullyhogue Fort Cookstown Co.Tyrone.

Tullyhogue Fort close to the modern town of Cookstown Co.Tyrone though little mentioned is one of the most important historic sites in Ireland. This is where the old Irish chieftains of Ulster were crowned. After inaguration they would sit resplendent on a stone throne and survey the lands of Tyrone beneath them. They would receive accolades,submissions and all the trappings bestowed on a major chieftain. It was here that the last O'Neill Irish chieftan Hugn O'Neill was crowned. After this Elizabeth 1st.'s army commander Mountjoy pillaged the site and destroyed the inaguration throne.
If one reads the history of the O'Cathans of the Roe Valley there will be many references to their links to the O'Neills. The two images below are of Tullyhogue Fort near Cookstown Co. Tyrone. This is where the old O'Neill chiefs of Ulster were inagurated in the 11th and 12th. centuries. The last being Hugh O'Neill the 2nd Earl of Tyrone at the end of the 16th. century prior to the "Flight of the Earls" the O'Neills, and O'Donnells in 1607 from Rathmullan Co. Donegal to Continental Europe. They would never return. O'Neill is buried in Rome.

View from within the fort at apex. Tullyhogue Cookstown Co.Tyrone.

General view of the circular ring fort at Tullyhogue. A somber, a mysterious place,

View from Grainan of Aileach Fort across Inch Island in the left center down Lough Swilley Co. Donegal. Rathmullan on the far left shore. From here the O'Neills and O'Donnells left in 1607 the so called Flight of the Earls which would to lead to the Plantation of Ulster.
Image courtesy Claus E Mueller. Vielen dank.

The ring shaped fort of Grainan of Aileach S.E. of Letterkenny Co.Donegal. Ancient seat of the O'Neills later to move to Dungannon area. A fort has been on this site for perhaps 8,000 years..
Image courtesy Claus E Mueller. Vielen dank.

A view of the interior of Grainan of Aileach fort above..
Image courtesy Claus E Mueller. Vielen dank.

The Foyle also visible from Grainan of Aileach as it flows towards Derry and the sea..
Image courtesy Claus E Mueller. Vielen dank.

Hugh O'Neill the last of the O'Neill chieftains. Died Rome Italy 20th. June 1616.

It ironic to look at these images of Aileach and realise that the ruling family of the Ui Neil (O'Neills) had this fort as their seat of power between about 500 and 1200 A.D.They then moved south and east into Ulster later to have their seat of power at Dungannon Co.Tyrone and their inaguration site at Tullyhogue close to what is now the town of Cookstown also Co. Tyrone. No doubt as he sailed away from Rathmullan in 1607 Hugh O'Neill would look back inland and see the dominant hill on which Aileach stands where all his family history started. No doubt he would have many mixed emotions.

The awfulness of post famine Ireland. Many of you will wonder what kind of dwellings your post famine Irish ancestors lived in, the so called "famine Irish". This may well be a good example of such a house. Little wonder those who left Ireland rarely wanted to talk about or return to their homeland.
(l).The Murnies area near Crebarkey townland gets it name from the Irish murna meaning knuckle. It refers to the knuckle shaped hillocks of sand in the area.

Catherine St. Limavady circa 1900.

Monroe Notes.

Note: The following notes are solely pointers by me that may help those of you who who are looking for proof of the links between the Monros and the Roe valley of Co. Derry Ireland. I am not an historian but living here and knowing the Roe valley area fairly well perhaps I can give a slightly different angle of interpretation for those of you who may never have visited the area. So please do not take my notes as fact they are only comments and angles to bounce comments off.
(m). For those of you who research the O'Cathans/O'Kanes perhaps the best book available though difficult to source is the academically researched book The Ulster Clans by the Rev.T.H. Mullin and his wife Mrs J.E. Mullin. Published in 1966 and printed by the B.N.L. Printing Co. Belfast. This book will also be of much interest to those of you researching the Monroe clan of Scotland. Here are a few points of Roe valley history linked to the Monroe clan. (This will be added to as information is turned up). Be aware that Scotland and Ireland especially the N.E. area have been exchanging their people for centuries. The land masses are within site of each other and the sea distance at the closest point is about 20 miles. On a clear day each country is visible to each other.
(1) A General George Monroe landed at Carrickfergus on April 15th 1642 and later engaged the "rebels" in Co. Derry mostly made up of O'Cathans!.
(2) Both Robert and Edward Bruce were linked to N.E. Ireland. In Robert Bruce's case when his bid failed to set Scotland free from English rule he took refuge on Rathlin Island off the N. Antrim coast near Ballycastle circa 1313. In 1314 King Edward II tried to get an army raised made up of local Irish under the command of the Norman rector of the Roe Edmund De Burgo to fight the "Scottish rebels"!. In 1315 Roberts brother Edward Bruce was invited to Ireland and landed at Larne harbour in May 1315 with an army of 6,000 Scots soldiers and got involved in the confrontations. (See O'Donovans quote in The Annals of the Four Masters Mss 6041)
(3)The oldest extant written statement concerning the Munro family origins is found in the “The Munro Tree” a genealogical chart compiled in 1734 and edited in 1977 by clan Munro genealogist R.W. Munro. It states:
Donald Abunro, son to Ocaan, prince of Farmonach in the county of Derrie upon the Ro water in Ireland came to Scotland 1025 AD to the assistance of King Malcolm the 2nd in his wars against the Danes for which he got these lands he first acquired and which he called after his own name Ferrindonald erected to a Barony of Fowlis from a place near to [?Loch feoulen] in Ireland ---“
There seems to have been a lot of confusion about this statement and in particular some of the words therein. This is my take on some of the words.
farmonach . This word has been variously interpreted. Some see as Fermanagh as in the county of Fermanagh in what is now N. Ireland. This would I think be incorrect. Fermanagh is generally taken as the land of Managh's tribe or followers. It is known that the Managhs or Manaighs appear to have been an offshoot of the Gaulish tribe called the Menapii who in early history are recorded in the west of what is now Co. Down as well as in the neighbourhood of Lough Erne. The name of the tribe being attached to the area where they lived thus we have from the Irish Fear Managh the Irish word for man being used in the plural. See below. If one looks at both the Irish and Scots Gaelic words fear and manach the following is seen.
fear. nm. g.v. fir; pl. fir; fheara, a man, one : fear-an-tighe, the man of the house (L.Sc. the guidman) : fear-pòsda, married man : fear-a'-bhaile, the farmer : fear-cinnidh, clansman : fear-ionaid, substitute : fear-aobhair, the man required : fear-brathaidh, betrayer : fear-falbh, traveller.
manach. nm. g.v. -aich; pl. -aich, monk
The most interesting is the expression fear-an-tighe the man of the house. There is also in Irish the expresion ban-an-tighe the woman of the house. Both expressions are in common use. The expression generally means that if a visitor calls by and is looking for the head of the household or the most important person then the fear-an-tighe or ban-an tighe is looked for.
Manach means monk so it would be a fair assessment that fearmonach (farmonach) would mean the chief or head monk of an order or an priory. Note as a small aside there are small islands west of South Uist in Scotland referred to as the Monach Islands ie the Monks Island where apparently both monks and nuns lived in times gone by.Here is information from another source.
Monk: Early Irish manach, Middle Irish mainchine, monkship, monk's duties (cf. abdaine), Welsh mynach, Breton manac'h; from Latin monachus, English monk. Hence manachainn, a monastery.
It is of interest to note that there is a town in Co.Tyrone called Dunamanagh dun na manach the fort of the monk.
ocaan. This is obviously the spelling of what is now the Anglicised name O'Cathain as now O'Kane.
derrie.Obviously the town or city of Derry (the oak tree). Be aware that the name was not existant in Viking times but the above notes were written in 1734 well after Derry/Londonderry city and county well established.
Loch Feoulen. The physical layout of this lough is worth considering. It is a large sea estuary into which flows the river Foyle. The name is said to be derived from the Irish Loch Feabhail pronounced (logh fyauil) meaning "the estuary of the lip". This "lip" may well refer to the area that is known as Magilligan Point which resembles a lip when viewed from the Donegal side at Greencastle. See a suitable map. There is also a legend that states the name Foyle is from the name Feabhal son of Lodan who belonged to the mythical Tutha De Dannan. Note that the Vikings to gain access to Lough Neagh via the river Bann would have had to come into the Foyle estuary. to get access to the river close to the modern town of Coleraine. If the Vikings were coming in from the Atlantic via the northen shore of Donegal the Roe would indeed have been ro or hroe a peaceful place after their journey!
Dunnalong. It is known that the Vikings came up both the rivers Foyle and Swilly circa 800 they burned the town of Derry twice. A few miles further up the river Foyle where the river narrows considerably at a place called Dunnalong they established a base.Thus the name Dunalong dun na long. ie the fort of the longboats (Norsemen). It may well be that this was their main base in Donegal.
long In Irish long, Early Irish long, vessel (vas), ship Welsh llong, ship: *longâ; Norse lung, ship (Bez.); cf. Latin lagena, flagon (Stokes). Usually supposed to be borrowed from Latin (navis) longa, war ship. Cf. Ptolemy's River GLóggos, the Norse Skipafjörðr, now Loch Long. *plugnâ? English fly?
Ferrindonald I would be of the opinion that this word is derived from the Scots Gaelic word fearann nm. g.v. -ainn; pl. -ainn, land, farmland, estate. Ferrindonald thus being Fearanndonald meaning Donald's land, estate etc.
Note that the terms head and foot of a river are still in use here. The most common is head meaning where the river rises. Foot is less used but means where the river joins say an estuary eg in the case of the Roe the foot of the river will be where it spills into Lough Foyle.

Round Tower at Antrim town Co.Antrim.

This is an example of an Irish Round Tower at the town of Antrim in Co. Antrim. Antrim town is on the shores of Lough Neagh so it would be reasonable to link its existence to the coming of the Vikings. Many of these towers were close to monastic settlements. However there seems to be some debate as to their purpose. Did the monks go inside the tower for protection or were they for lookout purposes. Certainly from the top of this tower a good view could be had of the northern coast of Lough Neagh