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Newtowncunningham
an Baile Nua
Location
Location of Newtowncunningham
centerMap highlighting Newtowncunningham
Irish grid reference
C285176
Statistics
Province: Ulster
County: County Donegal
Dáil Éireann: Donegal North East
Population (2006) 999

Newtown Cunningham, sometimes spelled Newtowncunningham or abbreviated to Newton (Irish: an Baile Nua), is a village in the east of County Donegal, Ireland. Located on the N13 road 18 km east of Letterkenny and 16 km west of Derry, it is ideally located as a commuter village for both large towns. The 2006 census reports the village's population as 999, an increase of 50.7% over the 2002 population of 663.

Contents

History

The area of Newtowncunningham was historically known as Culmacatrain.[1]

Like nearby Manorcunningham, the village takes its name from John Cunningham, originally from Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, in Scotland, who was among the settlers granted lands in County Donegal during the Plantation of Ulster. The village's architecture includes stately Anglo-Irish "big houses", now known as the Manse and the Castle, which reflect the village's colonial and Presbyterian history.

Economy and Community

Newtowncunningham's long main street once formed part of the busy N13 trunk road connecting Letterkenny with Derry. The village's shops and businesses could thrive on business from passing traffic, but when a bypass diverted the N13 around the village in 1985, Newtowncunningham lost its economic lifeline. Many of the village's businesses either closed or moved to locations along the bypass, gradually divesting the main street of economic activity and the village of its cohesive identity.

All Saints, Roman Catholic church, Newtowncunningham.

New residential developments, essentially commuter suburbs of Derry and Letterkenny, have recently being built at both ends of Newtowncunningham, expanding the village's population by over 50% between 2002 and 2006. A variety of new retail and service outlets indicate an economic revival, although dilapidated stretches of the main street and older rundown housing estates still contrast markedly with the new residential developments at either end.

Newtowncunningham has a number of shops and businesses, including McDaids' Gala shop, Kernans' Eurospar [1] shop and filling station, the Ocras café, and Coyles' Bar and Restaurant [2]. A new industrial estate area located at the Letterkenny end of the village offers large retail outlets. A new garden centre is based there along with a Mega Deals store and a hardware store.

Newtowncunningham is located close to Blanket Nook, a wetland area that is a wintering site for the rare Whooper Swan. The bird sanctuary is one of many tourist attractions in the surrounding area, which also include Grianan of Aileach and the sixteenth-century Burt Castle.

Transport

  • Newtowncunningham is well served by bus services both from Lough Swilly and Bus Éireann. Both bus services use the main street as part of their Derry to Letterkenny route, and Bus Éireann's Derry to Galway service also stops in the village.
  • Newtowncunningham's railway station opened on 30 June 1883, closed for passenger traffic on 3 June 1940 and finally closed altogether on 10 August 1953.[2]

Culture

Although its population is mainly Catholic, Newtowncunningham has significant Presbyterian and Church of Ireland presences, and the village has churches for all three religions.

Catholic parish priests Dr Patrick Muldoon (1969–1980), Fr Peter McGlynn (1980–1989), and Fr Kevin O'Doherty (1989–2009) have overseen many changes in the village. In the late 1970s, Dr Muldoon purchased land for a new national school and sports field. His successor, Fr McGlynn, oversaw the building of the new Scoil Cholmcille, the Catholic primary (national) school, completed in 1983, and the construction of the Pairc Colmcille sports ground, which opened in 1986. In the late 1990s, Fr O'Doherty oversaw the demolition of the existing Catholic church in the centre of the village and the construction of a replacement church, St. Peter's Bark, which opened in 1999. Architecturally designed to resemble a ship, the church symbolizes the Catholic faith sailing into the third millennium.[3] After the retirement of Fr. Kevin O'Doherty in August 2009, Fr. Seamus Gallagher became parish priest of Newtowncunningham.

The Columban Hall on the main street hosts many events throughout the year, such as festivals, concerts, and car boot sales.

The local Orange Lodge, Newtowncunningham LOL1063, meet regularly in the Orange Hall on main street and will celebrate their centenary in 2011. There is also an Apprentice Boys Club and an accordion band which meet in the Orange Hall. The hall is used by various community groups throughout the year as well as hosting an Annual Remembrance Day Service and variety concerts. The lodge, parade three times a year in the city of Derry located just 20 miles from the village, during the 12th July parade, Relief of Derry parade in early August and the Siege of Derry parade on the first Saturday in December.

Presbyterians witnessing the reformed faith in the area had sought to form a congregation from as early as 1792, and Newtowncunningham's Presbyterian Church was finally formed in 1830. The Church building was built in one year by voluntary labour. Newtowncunningham Presbyterian Church was united with Crossroads from 1957 until 1974 and is now united with Ray. The Rev. Nigel D. Craig is the current minister and membership stands at about sixty-five families.

See also

References

External links

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