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Limavady is a small but historic town situated in the scenic Roe Valley, about halfway between Derry City and Coleraine town.

How Limavady Got Its Name

Limavady derives from the Gaelic Leim an Mhadaidh  meaning "Leap of the Dog".

  • The story behind this whimsical name comes from the history of the O'Cahan clan
  • This clan, called , O' Ciannachta in Gaelic, was predominant in the area from the 12th - 17th centuries
  • According to legend, a neighbouring clan launched an attack near the castle of the O'Cahan's
  • One of the chieftains had a faithful Irish wolfhound that ran to warn the clan of the impending danger
  • In the process, the dog leapt over the Roe River Gorge, giving the village its name

The Place That Gave Birth to "Danny Boy"

  • Limavady is famed as the place of origin of one of the world's most beloved ballads.
  • In 1851, Jane Ross lived at No. 51 on the Georgian Main Street of the village, and wrote down a travelling fiddler's tune, naming it "Londonderry Air".
  • The song later became known as "Danny Boy".
  • Today, you can find a sculpture commemorating Jane Ross stands on Catherine Street

Birthplace of William Massey, Prime Minister of New Zealand

  • William Ferguson Massey, born in the Limavady area in 1856, served as Prime Minister of New Zealand for 13 years, from 1912 to 1925.
  • From a small agricultural background, Massey's family emigrated to New Zealand in 1869.
  • A wartime Prime Minister, he was nicknamed "Farmer Bill".
  • Bill Massey's greatest legacy is perhaps how he dealt with the Great Strike of 1913.
  • Massey recruited ordinary farmers and farm workers as special constables, who became known as "Massey's Cossacks", to break the strike.
  • He died on 10th May 1925.
  • A bronze statue of William Massey is located in found of the local Council Offices on Connell St.

Other Points of Interest

  • The O'Cahan Castle, now known as O'Cahan's Rock, or what is left of it, is now one of the prime landmarks at Roe Valley Country Park.
  • While William Thackeray was visiting and staying in an inn on Ballyclose Street, he penned the well-known verse Peg of Limvaddy, in honour of the innkeeper's daughter.
  • American President James Monroe's ancestors are also said to have emigrated from this area.

The Story of The Broighter Gold

  • Near Limvady Town in 1892, a farm worker named Thomas Nicholl turned up a piece of treasure that became known as the Broighter Gold.
  • It was an exquisitely detailed model ship with many intricate features, including a beautiful Celtic collar.
  • The ship changed hands in quite a few sales transactions, until it was finally proclaimed a treasure trove by the Royal Irish Academy and put on display in a British Museum.
  • A hearing was held to demonstrate that the gold item was buried and not thrown overboard from a ship as formerly believed
  • The original is now located in the National Museum in Dublin, with copies on display at Belfast's Ulster Museum.


Main Street, Limavady. Image: Dean Molyneaux


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