The Roe Valley Scenic Drive from Limavady will take you to Dungiven, the name translates as ‘Fort of the Skins’. The first recordings of modern habitation here dates to around 678AD when a monastic settlement was founded in the 'glen of skins' by St. Nechtan. There was also an ecclasiastical gathering here in 590AD attended by St Columba and other Saints including Candice who lived locally, the site is marked by a standing stone.
From the 12th century the land between here, the Foyle and the Bann became known as O’Cahan’s Land who ruled it until the late 1500s. Dermont O’Cahan, an Irish Prince, founded an Augustinian Priory here in 1100AD which became renown for learning and had connections to monastic settlements in Ireland, England and France.
The priory chancel which was added in the 1300s contains one of the best carved tomb examples of the period in Ulster and is said to be the burial tomb of Gall O’Cahan who died in 1385. The tomb has an lattice of stonework overlooking a lying soldier in battle dress with a sword, on the front six soldiers are standing in a row, dressed as gallowglasses who were Scottish warriors. The work has been restored on several occassions and modern thought is that it dates more towards the 15th century.
The monastic settlement survived until the dissolution of monasteries by Henry VIII in the mid 1500s. By the late 1500s the priory was a fortified stronghold of the O'Cahans against the English. In 1602 the O’Cahans laid down their arms and the site became an English garrison. As the Plantation of Ulster by James Ist began, Sir Edward Doddington arrived in the Roe and by 1611 had built a substantial two story house and other buildings on the site, restored the church and created what was effectively a fortified settlement.
He was responsible for a lot of building during the plantation both locally and in Limavady, Coleraine and Derry, and is reputed to have contributed to the design of the walls of Coleraine and Derry. During the plantation, County Coleraine (now Londonderry) was devided into twelve sections and shared out between the twelve London Livery Companies, this section was drawn by the Skinners Company in 1613 and they named it Pellipar, which is latin for Skinner.
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