Vol. 4 No. 3 - 1982
This County Armagh village takes its name from the lough situated in the former Cope estates. The name stems from the Irish, Locha Cal. In the 8th Century there was a settlement of the Culdees at Loughgall. The Latin for Culdees is "Colidei" or Worshippers of God. Little is known of them except that they were bodies of disciples who attached themselves in a loose way to a holy man or sacred shrine. In. Co. Armagh they were attached to Mullabrack, near Markethill, Tynan, Loughgall, Ballymore, near Tandragee and Kilmore.
In 1610, the Plantation of Ulster (under James I of England) came into effect. The manors of Loughgall and Carrobrack were granted to Lord Saye and Sele. In 1611 he sold these lands to Sir Anthony Cope of which 3,000 acres were represented by the Manor of Loughgall.
The Copes were an old established English family from Hanwell, Oxfordshire.
In 1660 Capt. Valentine Blacker purchased the Manor of Carrobrack from Anthony Cope of Loughgall. This Manor was situated on the East of the Bann a few miles out of Portadown and the home of the Blackers was known as Carrick Blacker.
The Loughgall Manor was divided between two branches of the Cope family which were known as, The Manor House and Drumilly.
In 1619 Pynnar made a survey of the Ulster plantation on behalf of the British Government and reported thus on the Loughgall Manor:
"Mr. Cope has 3,000 acres called Derrycravy and Dromilly (in Co. Armagh). Upon this there is a bawn of lime and stone an hundred and eighty feet square, fourteen feet high with four flankers (defensive towers) and in three of them he has built very good lodgings which are three storeys high. There are also two water mills and one wind-mill and near to the bawn, he hath built fourteen houses of timber, which are inhabited with English families."
The bawn and houses were situated on the edge of the lough. The plantation settlement of Loughgall prospered and in fact was the foremost and most successful development in Co. Armagh.
In 1641 the native Irish rebelled against the English and Scottish and quickly overran and destroyed most of the settlements in Ulster. Loughgall remained intact until 1643, but in that year it was sacked and burned following a battle fought between the Scottish Army Commander, General Monroe and the Irish Army under Sir Phelim O'Neill and the outstanding Irish Commander, Owen Roe O'Neill. Following this battle many of the Loughgall plantation settlers were put to death and stories are told to this day of the English settlers being rounded up and locked in the Church which was set on fire.
The rebelling Irish took control of much of Ireland and set up a government at Kilkenny, known as the Confederation of Kilkenny. In Ulster certain areas held out against the Irish such as Lisnagarvey (Lisburn), Belfast and Carrickfergus.
Soon after the execution of Charles I of England, the country was declared a Commonwealth or Free State with Oliver Cromwell at its head with the title of Protector. On 15th August, 1649, he landed with a well equipped and experienced Army near Dublin and quickly subdued the Irish. Drogheda, gateway to Ulster was the first town to fall to Cromwell. Its defenders were massacred and this act so terrified the garrisons of other towns that they quickly surrendered. After the fall of Clonmel, Cromwell sailed to England, leaving the Army under the command of his son-in-law Henry Ireton who completed the defeat of the Irish and the War ended with the fall of Galway in May, 1653.
The restoration of the English and Scottish settlements following the defeat of the Irish was a slow and arduous task and many years passed before the country settled down and confidence was restored. Loughgall developed slowly under the benign guidance of the Cope family. The village took on a distinctly English appearance. During the 18th and early part of the 19th century a number of houses were built in the elegant Georgian style of architecture.
The two Cope families of the Manor House and Drumilly respectively, did not take a very active part in politics, but as residential landlords pursued a policy of development of agriculture both on their own estates and greatly encouraged the improvement and fertility of the farms of their tenants. Apple growing over the past two centuries has become a major factor in the economic development of Co. Armagh, with Loughgall the heart of this important industry.
To this day there is no Public House in Loughgall. The Copes at some stage in the past actively discouraged the sale and consumption of intoxicating liquor by buying several Public Houses in the village and closing them down. In their place they established a Coffee House and Reading Room.
The two families of the Copes are now extinct in the male line. The last generation of both the Manor House and Drumilly families had daughters only. Of the Manor House family, a Miss Cope married a Church of Ireland minister, Canon Sowter. Mr. Ralph Cope of Drumilly had two daughters, one of which, Diana, married a Mr. Robin Cowdy of the local Greenhall linen bleaching family and now lives at Summerisland.
Both the Manor House and Drumilly estates were purchased by the Northern Ireland Ministry of Agriculture and now play a prominent part in testing and development in the horticultural field. Both estates remain intact and have not been developed for housing or industry. [But since writing have been transformed into Loughall Country Park and golf course. With considerable areas of mature woodland interspersed with orchards and cultivated fields, this area of Co. Armagh must surely be one of the most pleasant stretches of countryside in Ulster.