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Garvagh, historically known as Garvaghy (from the Irish: Garbhachadh meaning "rough field"), is a town in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It is located on the banks of the Agivey River, 18 kilometres (11 miles) south of Coleraine on the A29 route. In the 2001 Census it had a population of 1,288 people. It is within the Coleraine Borough Council area. Garvagh is a significant service centre for the surrounding countryside, providing a wide range of services and considerable employment.



Garvagh was important from very early times, but was destroyed by fire during the Battle of Garvagh, and rebuilt as a Plantation town as its broad main street and neatly planned buildings evidence. It was founded in the early 17th century by George Canning from Warwickshire, agent for the Ironmonger’s Company of London, it was subsequently developed into a modest size market town by the Cannings. A striking feature of the town is the stone clock tower with an attractive clock and castellations which dominate the main route through the town and also which serves as the district cenotaph immortalising the dead of the two World Wars (1914-1918 and 1939-1945).

During the Troubles five people were killed in or near Garvagh, all of them by the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

The Garvagh and District Development Association- GADDA undertook a project to modernise the town in the late 1990s and early 2000s by installing new water mains, upgrading road surfaces, improving pedestrian surfaces, new street lighting, a new community building and a new toilet block, which were funded through various support channels: the Coleraine Borough Council, The Ireland Fund of America, the EU and the British Government.

The town has been immortalised in the famous Protestant folk-song "The Battle of Garvagh", which tells the tale of the town's defence in 1813 from the marauding Ribbonmen who were intent on burning the town.

Places of interest

  • Garvagh Museum is a rural Folk Museum situated in the Bann Valley, in the walled garden of Garvagh House, the former seat of the Canning family. George Canning was elevated to the peerage in 1818 and took the title, Baron Garvagh. This walled garden has historic connections with Denis Hampson the great blind harper who lived in 3 centuries, being born in 1695 and dying in 1807. George Canning, Dr Bacon and Squire Gage purchased Hampson's first harp while he was resident in Garvagh. At the entrance to the museum there is a memorial to Hempson in the form of a granite pillar. This unique collection comprises almost two thousand artefacts which trace the history of the Bann Valley from 3000 BC through to the first half of the 20th century.
  • Garvagh Forest, the former estate of the Cannings, covering over 2 square kilometres (0.7 sq mi), is situated on the western outskirts of Garvagh.

2001 Census

Garvagh is classified as a village by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (ie with a population between 1,000 and 2,250 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 1,288 people living in Garvagh. Of these:

  • 22.3% were aged under 16 years and 25.1% were aged 60 and over
  • 46.7% of the population were male and 53.3% were female
  • 25.0% were from a Catholic background and 74.0% were from a Protestant background
  • 3.6% of people aged 16-74 were unemployed

For more details see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service


Garvagh railway station opened on 18 February 1880 and finally closed on 28 August 1950.[1]


  • Jim Watt former Mayor and Footballer.
  • Sammy Watt former footballer.
  • Uel Linton former Irish league player and youth international.


In the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s there were two public schools in Garvagh. Garvagh Public Elementary School, which was the Presbyterian school, was at the Southerly end of the town. Garvagh Youth Club now occupies the premises.

The second school, which was known as the Canning Public Elementary School, was the Church of Ireland school, and was positioned where the Christian Workers Union Hall now stands.

In 1947 an Education Act was passed, changing education in Northern Ireland. This would be followed by the 1948 African act. Public Elementary schools were to be called Primary Schools, with pupils transferring at 11+ to Intermediate schools, Grammar schools, and Technical schools. This change took some time, as schools had to be planned and built. Garvagh Intermediate school opened in 1953. The primary school population fell as a result. Both primary schools continued to operate for some time, but eventually the Canning Primary School closed. Primary Education continued in Garvagh Primary School, but as housing development took place, the school could not cope with the numbers. Temporary accommodation was given in Garvagh Orange Hall.

In the grounds of Garvagh Intermediate School was the school, and Garvagh House, the former house of the Canning Family. In Garvagh House were flats for single female teachers, and some classrooms. The house had fallen into disrepair over the years, suffering from wet and dry rot, and vermin infestation. County Londonderry Education Committee decided to demolish Garvagh House and to build a new primary school on its site. This was duly done and Garvagh Primary School opened in 1965.

But further change was in store. In the early seventies, in education circles, ROSLA ("Raising of School Leaving Age") was constantly mentioned. This meant that Garvagh Intermediate school numbers would rise without adequate buildings to house the extra pupils. County Londonderry Education Committee decided that the existing primary school would become part of the intermediate school, and a new primary school would be built.

And so in April 1973, the new Garvagh Primary School opened. It was built on Ashe's Meadow. Where the gates are, was the site of the old cinema (AVON - which stood for Allies Victory over Nazis). The school was of a new design, with three wings. Each wing consisted of three classrooms, lavatories and an open area. Apart from the classroom for P1, the classrooms had no doors. This was referred to as open plan.

Today, there are three schools in Garvagh: Garvagh Primary School, St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's Primary School, and Garvagh High School.


  1. ^ "Garvagh station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-10-14.  

See also

External links

Coordinates: 54°59′N 6°40′W / 54.983°N 6.667°W / 54.983; -6.667



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