A LITTLE ABOUT VIRGINIA’S PAST
Virginia is the fastest growing town in Ulster and it is no wonder given what it has to offer. Virginia has a rich heritage, dating back over 400 years. The most southerly town of the historic Plantation of Ulster it derives its name from the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth 1 of England. Virginia’s origins as an attractive estate town are reflected in its traditional layout with the central location of the Church of Ireland and the impressive stone houses on New St, The Green and the Ballyjamesduff Rd. Founded in 1612, its history is closely linked to the famous Headfort Estate in nearby Kells.
The Virginia Park Lodge was constructed in 1750 as a Hunting Lodge for the Taylours of Kells. Boathouses were constructed along the lakeshore and gatehouses built at the entrance to the lodge adding to the prestige of the estate, these can still be seen today. Successive regattas were organised on Lough Ramor by successive marquises from 1831 for over a century. In the early 1800’, the second Marquis, established a forest (known today as Deerpark Forest) on a peninsula jutting out into the lake.
Today Virginia continues to take pride in its history, it is a place where visitors come to make memories and create their own history of tomorrow.
THE VIRGINIA BROOCH
The Virginia Brooch was discovered on Lough Ramor’s shore close to Woodward’s Island near Virginia, Co. Cavan early in the nineteenth century.
It dates from circa 900 AD, making it over 1000 years old. It is described as a silver, bossed, Irish pennanular brooch, measuring 19.7 cm in length by 11.4 cm at its widest part. The eight raised bumps are bosses and it is pennanular because it is in the form of a ring, but with a break at one point.
This was a design development in Ireland during the ninth century from the older Tara brooch type, which this brooch resembles. It is decorated with intricate Scandanavian design which reflects the Viking influence of the time. Folklore says that the Vikings sailed up the river Boyne from Drogheda, into the River Blackwater and into Lough Ramor where they plundered a monastery on Woodward’s Island.
The brooch has been adopted as the Virginia brooch and it is stored in the National Museum of Ireland, though not currently on display. It was exhibited in the County Museum, Ballyjamesduff for four days in May 2012 during the Virginia 400 celebrations and was much admired by the many people who travelled distances to view it.