A House with Tradition

by Anon *

From Bulletin No. 1 - Issued by Craigavon Historical Society in April 1968

Many of the houses examined by research teams of the Society have existed since the seventeenth century. The majority of these were constructed of mud and originally thatched, but many in the last fifty years have been re-roofed with corrugated iron.

In some cases the inhabitants of the existing houses are the descendants of the original occupiers.

A good example of this is a mud-wall house in the townland of Drumgask. This house was occupied, from the end of the seventeenth century, until last year, by the Mewhort family. The last surviving member, Frank Mewhort, died about one year ago, but his relatives still occupy the house.

From interviews with these people we found that the original Mewhort occupiers were five brothers who came from Holland and serving with King William's army in those troubled times.

After the battle of Aughrim they decided to settle at Drumgask where they built the original thatched house, and carried on their craft as weavers.

The late Frank Mewhort always maintained that these brothers were pioneers of weaving of linen in the area. For more than 200 years the craft was carried on in the house where as many as six looms were kept going at one time.

The mud-walled house is at present occupied by a niece of Frank Mewhort, Mrs. Sarah Neill, her husband and two daughters.

They are, like the original inhabitants, members of the Quaker church, and one of the small number of families still living on the same land since the 1690's.

* Contributors to this issue included:
D. M. Holt, K. Clendinning, T. Hutton, K.N. McClelland, J.F. McShane and S.J.W. Cooper.

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