Magherafelt is a thriving, friendly town with a population of about 11,000 people. It has great shops, restaurants and bars and the Mid Ulster Council’s leisure facilities are second to none. An indoor arena at Meadowbank is state-of-the-art and is one of the largest of its type 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.
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 – the story of his life – 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.