Robert Murtland, from the Foyle Civic Trust, and Ulster-Scots poet, Wilson Burgess, were amongst those who made a pilgrimage to Aghadowey on Monday to honour the ‘Moses of the Scotch-Irish,’ Rev James McGregor.
An Ulster History Circle Blue Plaque commemorating the achievements of the pioneering minister, who led his congregation to the North American colonies in the early 18th century and founded the town of Londonderry there, was unveiled at Aghadowey Presbyterian Church by the US Consul General, Gregory S Burton, and the current clergyman Rev Robert Kane.
Mr Murtland travelled with Derry, New Hampshire’s official Town Historian, Richard Holmes and his wife, Carol Holmes, who had brought pieces of wood from Rev. McGregor’s old New Hampshire home for the occasion.
Mr Murtland also brought a banner and items from the ‘Global Derry-Londonderry’ exhibition, which celebrates the Irish and Ulster Scots diaspora from this city and our links with all the Londonderrys and Derrys around the globe.
Mr Burgess, who lives in Londonderry, but hails from Aghadowey, paid tribute to the iconic pioneer, imagining him “speaking a few hundred yards from here on Gospel Hill, to the families, who were going with him to America, as they took a last look at Aghadowey Meeting House.”
He then quoted from what’s believed to have been Rev. McGregor’s last words to his flock on Ulster soil.
“Episcopalian landlords in Aghadowey now abed; Shall think themselves accursed wherein they lay; And hold their own lives cheap when any speak; That sail with me on this life changing day.”