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If you’re planning a visit to Magherafelt then Laurel Villa is the place to stay, its excellence reflected in the award of 4 STARS under N. Ireland Tourist Board’s new classification scheme.
Magherafelt is a thriving, friendly town with a population of about 11,000 people. It has great shops, restaurants and bars and the Magherafelt District Council’s leisure facilities are second to none. A new indoor arena at Meadowbank is state-of-the-art and is one of the largest in Europe.
Magherafelt has a reputation as a great place to live with good community relations, excellent schools and colleges and one of the lowest crime rates in the country.
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Magherafelt has a fascinating history. It was formerly known as Teach Fiolta which translates from the Gaelic as The Monastic House of Felta or Fioltis.
There was almost certainly an Early Christian church here and St. Patrick is said to have visited the place. Indeed some scholars believe that Magherafelt was the place Patrick was referring to when he wrote in his Confession that he heard the Voice of the Irish, who lived beside the Wood of Foclut, calling him back to walk among them. Magherafelt is mentioned in the Ecclesiastical Taxation of Ireland 1302-6 when it was valued at half a mark. The site of this ancient church is marked by the ruins of a later Planters’ church that can be seen within the walls of the old graveyard to the rear of The Bridewell – just 200 yards from Laurel Villa.
The Salters’ Company
Magherafelt Town’s present layout owes much to its development by the Salters’ Company of London at the time of the Plantation of Ulster from 1615 onwards. Just a short walk from Laurel Villa is Broad St. This was the first street of houses built by the Londoners and it is often cited as a great example of early 17th. century town planning. It also features in one of Seamus Heaney’s poems. Although the Salters’ Company no longer have a direct involvement in the town, there are a number of company crests still visible on buildings in the neighbourhood, including one at the Rainey Endowed School, founded in 1710.
Some Historical Snippets
Magherafelt has been described in the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1836 as a very sociable place where the locals were very attentive to strangers. The Memoirs also tell us that the Knipe Brothers from Magherafelt were the tallest twins in Ireland. Other writers have immortalised the town, including the poet John Hewitt who, in the poem Ulster Names declared that Magherafelt breeds the best of men I’ll not deny it – and there is a famous traditional ballad called Magherafelt May Fair (often quoted by Seamus Heaney) which records the famous hiring fair which took place in the town.
Agnew’s Ice Cream Parlour is gone
but the memory – and taste – live on
Magherafelt today offers something for everyone. Shoppers can choose from a number of small independent retailers including some exclusive ladies’ boutiques. There is also a selection of larger national outlets and the newly renovated Meadowlane Shopping Centre is regarded as one of the best in N. Ireland. Magherafelt is also fast becoming a mecca for beauty, health and well-being services. We can arrange appointments for any of these services.
Magherafelt Restaurants and Bars
For a small town, Magherafelt has a huge number of good eating places including the Terrace, Gardiner’s, Bryson’s Bar, Simplicity, Sizzler’s, Rossini’s and Mary’s Bar. To find out what’s on the menu at Sean and Helen Owens fine restaurant, follow this link to Gardiners Restaurant. We will be happy to book a table there or indeed at any Magherafelt restaurant of your choice – are all within a few minutes walk from Laurel Villa.
Magherafelt’s nightlife is very varied and plentiful. Top-class live gigs are a feature of Bryson’s Bar and there are regular traditional music sessiuns in the Terrace Hotel. Mary’s Bar won Bar of the Year 2011. Dorman’s is one of the most popular bars in all of the North while the Flax Inn will suit those interested in a quiet pint of Guinness and a bit of craic. Again a comprehensive list of all Magherafelt pubs is included in our Guest Information folder.