The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council welcomed a special group of visitors recently as part of Aghadowey’s historic links with North America.
Pastor Karla Dias and Worship Leader Linda Harvey from Londonderry Presbyterian Church in New Hampshire visited the Borough over 300 years after their church founder emigrated from the Bann Valley. This significant period from 1718 saw groups of Presbyterians travel across the Atlantic Ocean to begin a new life in New England, including Minister James McGregor from Aghadowey.
During her visit, Pastor Karla led a special service beneath a 300-year-old tree near the banks of the Agivey River in homage to his very first service which took place on April 12th 1719 under an oak tree on the banks of Beaver Brook.
She also presented a special proclamation for the people of Aghadowey, in recognition of its place in these historic events.
The Mayor, Councillor Richard Holmes said: “300 years ago James McGregor led an organised migration from Ulster to North America, which is now regarded as the first mass movement of people of its kind. His congregation was joined by many others, including those from the Bann Valley and Ballymoney which makes it a fascinating part of our history.
“The community in Aghadowey is keen to further build and develop its links with New England. I was very pleased to welcome Karla and Linda to our Council offices to explore the connections we share with this part of America and the impact of these early immigrants which continues to characterise parts of North America.”
Alderman Michelle Knight McQuillan, who helped to facilitate the visit added: “Pastor Karla wanted to complete the circle by replicating the first service held in the 1700s. They were both so delighted to be here and walk the lands of the pilgrims who have been responsible for building the state that they call home. Her service was a thank you to the original people of Aghadowey, whom they feel they owe so much to.
“In 2019, a delegation from Aghadowey Rural Kinship travelled to New England to follow the route of those first early migrants and this visit helped us to build important connections. Another group, including a direct descendant from 1718, is due to travel here during June with further visits planned next year. Aghadowey is very proud of its links with this part of America and we are looking forward to building on this legacy.”