|Moira Demesne & the Village of Moira
Moira is a Georgian village situated eight miles from the City of
Lisburn which is the administrative centre for the region. It's also the home of Northern Ireland premier countryside event,
the National Countrysports Fair which is now part of the much larger
Northern Ireland Countryside Festival.
The name Moira is an Anglicisation of the Celtic Magth Rath or Moirath, meaning the plain of the fort. In 637 AD the battle of Moira was fought between Donal, the High King of Ireland and Congal Claen, a powerful Ulster King, Donal was the victor and Congal was slain.
In medieval times the district was largely owned by the O'Lavery family and their descendants and here are still Laverys' as they became known living in the locality.
A well-known member of this family was the distinguished painter Sir John Lavery, (1856-1941).
In 1744 Moira was described as a "Well laid out and thriving village, consisting of one broad street, inhabited by many traders, many of whom carry on the linen trade to good advantage." But linen wasn't the only industry. There was also a brewery and bottling businesses near Palmers' comer.
Moira is also reputed to have been the first village in which the famous Lambeg drums were made and where frogs were first discovered in Ireland! It was also an important centre for limestone quarrying and evidence of this is still to be seen in the lime kilns on the Clarehill Road. That same lime made Moira a good area for farming in that it gave good drainage and kept the soil alkali.
The world's first passenger train service between Manchester and Liverpool opened in 1830. Plans for an Ulster Railway were announced five years later and, in 1841 the Lisburn to Lurgan line was completed. Moira Station is the oldest surviving building from that venture. By 1945 it took some 18 people to staff Moira Station, including a stationmaster, clerks, pointers and signalmen. The line remains the most important in Northern Ireland today but Moira station is a much quieter place than in earlier years.