County Derry magazine ceases publication after 20 years

Synonymous with Dungiven Christmases for the past two decades, Winding Roe magazine was the brain child of local Ballyhargan man Aidan Farren.

Aidan had been a frequent contributor to its predecessor, Benbradagh magazine, and said that after the publication closed, after 30 years, “there was a feeling in the community of a need for a continuation of a magazine similar community”.

Following discussions with Seamus Hasson, one of the main driving forces behind the original book, they formed a plan to launch a new publication.

Aidan contacted a number of people to ask if they were interested in getting involved.

One of those he contacted was Mairead McCormack who recalls: “I was on maternity leave with my third daughter, Jennifer, when Aidan phoned me and thought it was a great idea. to continue the tradition of Benbradagh – maintaining a historical and cultural heritage. recording of a period in time, captured in a local rural community.

The inaugural meeting took place in the boardroom of Glenshane Community Development Limited at Glenshane Business Park, Legavallon Road on June 18 at 8 p.m.

In attendance were Aidan Farren, Seamus Hasson, Mairead McCormack, Denis Hegarty, Ken Hunter, Stephanie Hilditch, Cathal Ó hOisín, Harry McCloskey, Marion Kelly, Councilors Gerard Lynch and Michael Coyle.

Thus, constituted on June 18, 2002, the Winding Roe Magazine was born.

Michael Aemar Higgins, Donal Kealey and John McCloskey attended the next meeting where the editorial board was formed. Mary Brolly was on board, typing the content, from the start and joined the editorial board in 2016.

The Editorial Board has called for stories, poems, photos and sports updates for the year in the community. Notices were placed in all the parish bulletins, in the mail, schools were contacted and articles began to arrive.

Referring to that time, Aidan said: “Seamus was a most important cog with his vast knowledge of the history of the area and its people and he provided useful contacts to help get the Winding Roe off the ground as well as contribute content.”

Mairead recounts this first edition and the effort that has gone into it.

“In the early fall of 2002 the school bus picked up my eldest, Emily, for school, I let Andrea play at school and Jennifer and I came to Dungiven to do the make-up for the pages of the magazine until it’s time to get Andrea back.

“Jennifer was the best baby, sitting on my lap in front of the computer screen. I filled the magazine with typed content and photos scanned by Mary.

Pictured from left to right; Mairead McCormack, Gerard Lynch, Mary Brolly, Aidan Farren, Denis Hegarty and Cathal Ó hOisin.

“Together with the entire Editorial Board team, before you know it, we had the first edition of the magazine printed and released for Christmas 2002.”

In 2008 magazine production moved from Glenshane Business Park to the council chambers of Glenshane House on Main Street. Over the years, the editorial board of The Winding Roe magazine has consisted of: – Edition 1-20 – Aidan Farren, Mairead McCormack, Denis Hegarty; Edition 1-14 – Seamus Hasson, Michael Aemar Higgins; Edition 1-10 – Cathal Ó hOisín; Edition 1-6 – Donald Kealey, John McCloskey; Edition 8-10 – Morrison Stewart and Edition 15-20 – Mary Brolly.

Mary Brolly was in charge of the logistics and distribution of the magazine to the Dungiven diaspora, shipping it around the world.

“Helping produce The Winding Roe magazine for the past 20 years has been an exciting time for me,” she said.

“I always looked forward to receiving the various items to type in and the photographs to scan were of great interest, sometimes trying to guess who the people in them were.

“I prepared the delivery slips for the various points of sale before being delivered. Then I checked the progress of the sales and finally I invoiced and collected the money.

“A number of magazines had to be prepared for publication overseas, as well as in the UK and Ireland.”

It published the first magazine to 27 addresses in England, 11 in Northern Ireland and nine in the South, 13 in the United States, six in Australia, five in Scotland, three in Canada and one in Mexico.

She posted the latest edition of the magazine to 14 addresses in England, six in Northern Ireland and four in the South, four in the United States and two in Australia.

Stores that sold the first edition and have now closed are McCloskey’s Newsagents, the Old Post Office on Main Street, Mags Donaghy’s Mace Store, Hasson’s Drapery Store, the Dungiven Fruit and Vegetable Shop, Carla Kelly’s Sports Wear Shop, Angela’s News in Maghera and the bookworm, Derry. The magazine was sold throughout North and South Derry during its lifetime.

Mary continued: “The magazines contain a wealth of information and history, much of which would otherwise have been lost. There is still a large amount of local history, songs and poetry that remains undocumented. Hopefully one day these will be printed by future generations.

“These magazines are a great source of information for our local schoolchildren and some will hopefully continue the tradition of capturing historical facts from the Roe Valley.”

In recognition of their historical significance, the first magazine and each subsequent magazine have been deposited in a number of archives.

These are – McClay Library, QUB, Belfast; The Royal Irish Academy, Dublin; Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana; UK Legal Deposit Libraries and Dungiven Local Library.

Michael Aemar Higgins digitized all editions of Benbradagh magazine which Liam Lynch of LL Systems then converted into OCR-readable documents. John Marquess of the Maghera Historical Society then digitized all editions of the Winding Roe Magazine.

Mairead McCormack designed the Winding Roe website and uploaded all previous editions of both magazines to it so that they could be viewed online at

There are still a few print editions available to buy from Glenshane House, 112-114 Main Street, Dungiven if anyone would like a tangible copy.

Aidan concluded: “After 20 years we now feel that times and attitudes have changed and the Winding Roe has run its course. If others wish to continue with similar content, regardless of format, they will have our support.

“I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to produce the magazine and everyone who contributed to it in any way.”

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