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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Rare jug linked to United Irishmen donated to Ballymoney Museum

Donor, Prof Eric Calhoon along with Museum Officer Jamie Austin.

Donor, Prof Eric Calhoon along with Museum Officer Jamie Austin.

Ballymoney Museum has received an exceptionally rare donation with links to the United Irishmen and the 1798 rebellion - a jug which commemorates the life of John Nevin of Derrykeighan.

John Nevin was a well-known officer in the secret, illegal army of the United Irishmen, who were in 1796 secretly planning an armed rebellion to overthrow the government. He trained his men under the cover of darkness at Derrykeighan, near Dervock.

For two years they plotted rebellion and while several attempts were made to arrest John Nevin, he always escaped. Despite a reward of 50 guineas, he was never betrayed. After the rebellion failed in Ulster, he was smuggled onto a ship at Magilligan and sailed to America, where he died in 1806.

After John Nevin’s death, his family commissioned a set of ornamental china jugs in his memory - said to be a set of three. His descendants donated the smallest of these jugs to Ballymoney Museum many years ago, along with his sword and spurs, while in 2014 a local man, James McMullan donated another.

Donor, Prof Eric Calhoon along with Museum Officer Jamie Austin.

The three jugs on display in Ballymoney Museum.

Museum staff were therefore delighted to be contacted by Professor Eric Colhoon, who had travelled from Australia with the third John Nevin jug to donate to the museum. The jug had been in his family since the 1940s and had come down through the Camac family, who were a farming family that lived at the Coole near Derrykeighan.

Thomas Nevin Camac was the son of the Camac family at Coole and had two sisters, Elizabeth and Ellen, of which Ellen was the donor’s grandmother.

When Thomas and his sisters died, the jug was passed onto the donor’s father, who later fell and smashed the juginto over 40 pieces. Professor Eric Colhoon took the pieces to a conservator who restored the jug - only one small part near the base of the jug is not an original part.

Ballymoney Museum are so thankful to Professor Colhoon and his sister Fiona for looking after this rare piece of history so well and for generously donating it to be part of the John Nevin collection on permanent display.

To view the John Nevin jugs and other items, visit Ballymoney Museum, Monday- Saturday 9.30am-4.30pm (closed 1-1.30pm).

For more information email or phone 028 276 60230.


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