New discoveries about Ballyshannon and its rich history are set to be revealed by one of south Donegal’s most respected local historians.

Anthony Begley, a former President of the Donegal Historical Society and a former curator of its museum at Rossnowlagh will be revealing new research about one of the most historic sites in town -  on Saturday, August 19 - with a guided walk in the grounds of St. Anne’s Church Ballyshannon from 3-5 pm.

The walk is free and forms part of Heritage Week and is organised by St. Anne’s Fundraising Committee.

Overlooking the town and the river Erne are the final resting place of an ancient Irish king called Hugh (Aodh).

For the first time in living memory the exact location of a hidden chamber in the graveyard will be revealed.

Could this be the burial place of Hugh after whom the hill is named Mullaghnashee or the hill of Hugh of the fairies?

New research has also discovered the grave of a man who lived in Rossnowlagh and who was one of the wealthiest men in County Donegal but who is forgotten today.

The lettering on his grave has been worn away but the symbols on his grave still survive and have identified his burial place, for the first time in upwards of a century.

A visit will be paid to the oldest grave in the cemetery that of a woman who died in 1681.

A visit will also be made to the grave of the last of the Allingham family to live in Ballyshannon- this last link with the poet William Allingham had a most unusual ending. Amongst other local history that will be revealed are:

· Many victims of the Great Famine were buried in the Paupers’ Graveyard, close to St. Anne’s, but for the first time, it will be revealed that a number of victims were actually buried in St. Anne’s graveyard.

· Dracula and Bram Stoker’s connections to St. Anne’s will be explored

· Pioneers of electricity in Ballyshannon.

· A radio officer washed ashore at Rossnowlagh during World War 2 and how his ship sank.

· The Night of the Big Wind and the damage it caused to the church.

· A Ballyshannon man who was a director of the East India Company the most important trading group in the 19th century world. How he and members of his family became Baronets of Carrickboy in the town and see where they lived without leaving the grounds of the Church. His parents are buried in the graveyard.

· Hear about the Battle of Ballyshannon in 1597, how Red Hugh O’Donnell was victorious against the English forces and how Mullaghnashee played an important role.

· The last man to die in a duel and the connections with a recent business premises sold in the town.

· A world famous engineer and writer buried in St. Anne’s graveyard.

· Hear stories of local men who fought and died in World War One and see the plaques to their memory in the church.

· The gentleman piper of Ballyshannon played locally over 200 years before The Folk Festival

St. Anne’s are embarking on a big project of restoring the church hall which was formerly a school.

The community enjoy sharing their history with everyone, and invite all participants for Tea/Coffee & Home Bakes after the tour.

The free Heritage Walk will be a gentle stroll through the graveyard which has magnificent views of the town and countryside and also includes a visit to the most impressive and historic church.

Visitors and local people are most welcome on Saturday, August 19 at 3pm.

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