St Johnston and Carrigans Donegal



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During the Siege of Derry 1689 King James II passed through the St Johnston and Carrigans area on his way to Derry which at that time was encapsulated within the city walls and under siege.  About the start of the siege, St Johnston was used as the headquarters for King James II army.  It is rumoured that the King spent a night or two in Steravage on the outskirts of the town but it is more plausible that he in fact stayed at Mongavlin Castle.  It is reasonably certain that he was the guest of Archdeacon Hamilton during the Seige of Derry.  James would have sent proposals of surrender to the garrison by his host.  Of course, these proposals were rejected.

But it does seem that Robert Cowan of Monreagh Presbyterian Church had the king for a guest.  It is a bit hard to explain how the king would go to Monreagh when he was only in the area for ten days at most and his schedule would have been tight.  Robert Cowan's son, John, from St Johnston had taken men to Derry to fight against the king.  Descendants of these Cowans, Robert and Jane lived in the town of St Johnston until the 1930's.

A Rev Mr Whitloe, a Church of Ireland clergyman of Raphoe, took a letter to Derry from the king which contained the words, “Given at our quarters at St Johnston 17th day of April, 1689, at four o clock in the afternoon in the fifth year of our reign.  By our Majesty’s Command”.  The exact place where this letter was given from is unknown.  It is likely to have been a camp outside the town. The camp would most probably have been located in a high part of the town.  In Derry, landowners were burning crops to stop them being of any use to the enemy.  Steravage just on the outskirts of the town is a good candidate. 

The army of King James burned the town down and murdered many of the locals as they departed the locality.