Since I can trace my Irwin heritage through Northern Ireland, (I’m only 2nd generation in this country, Grandfather came from Belfast right around the time of the Easter uprising), I thought I’d see what could be found in the North of Ireland.
As it turns out the Irwin, (Irvine etc) name is as popular in the north as it is in Scotland. Most of the Clan came to Ireland’s shores in the 1600’s.
So that being said let’s look at Irvinestown and the Irvine castle. Irvinestown is a village in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
The village was founded during the Ulster Plantation in 1618 by Sir Gerald Lowther and named Lowtherstown. Ownership later passed to the Irvines of Dumfries and the name changed accordingly.
Necarne Castle, formerly known as Castle Irvine, is now an equestrian school – Necarne Castle Equestrian School.
The village also boasts the annual Lady of The Lake Festival, a large 10 day summer festival and carnival which begins on the first Friday following the 12th of July. It is the largest cross-community Festival to be held in Northern Ireland and is named after the mythical figure which is said to appear gliding over the waters of Lower Lough Erne, wearing a flowing blue gown and carrying a bunch of flowers. The Lady is said to be an omen of good times to come.
During the second world war, (IRVINE)-Necarne, was used bythe RAF and the Americans as a military hospital. By 1941, America had declared war on Germany and the castle was requisitioned by the United States Navy. It originally had 200 beds but was soon enlarged to a 500 bed institution and released to the American Army. It was here, at Necarne, that the 28th Station Hospital was set up. Americans recuperated while they built up their strength getting ready to fight on the beaches of Normandy. The hopitality and kindness of the locals in nearby Irvinestown was greatly appreciated. One local farmer even allowed the ‘Yanks’ to use his field as a baseball pitch!
A mortuary, which held at least ten stone slabs, was also built at Necarne. Sadly, too many RAF young men, who were involved in flying fatalities, were brought here for their final resting place. A lone stone slab still stands today at the side of the castle as a reminder of the part played by Necarne in the Battle of the Atlantic.
The village has a number of sporting organisations such as Irvinestown Wanderers Football Club, St. Molaise’s GAA, Irvinestown Tennis Club and more. The Bawnacre leisure centre provides many sporting facilities including squash courts, tennis courts, indoor & outdoor football, indoor gymnasium and sauna / steam room. It is a rich haven of sport and recreation in the area a fact recognised when the long-serving manager George Beacom was given an OBE for services to sport in the local community.
GAASt.Molaise GAA Gaelic football team can trace its roots back to 1918 when the team were represented at the county convention of that year by C.Browne, P.Rafferty and J.Maguire. Previously hurling was played with teams fielded by Tummery and Glassmullagh.
The Irvinestown Truck Festival was launched in 2000 and is celebrating 11 years in 2011. This is a 60-mile (100 km) drive around the Fermanagh lakes where the spectacle of trucks raises funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care. As many as 700 lorries (trucks)have taken part in this event in the past (unofficially breaking the world record by quite a margin) and what a spectacle it is.
At one time this castle also belonged to the Kennedy family.