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The town of Limavady is a market town in County Derry, with Benevenagh as a backdrop. It is 27 km east of Derry City and 23 km south west of Coleraine. It had a population of 12,135 people and is a pretty and compact town.
During the past 50 years the town has experienced sustained growth, related to significant development of modern industry and its perception as an attractive residential town. Limavady is a prosperous service centre for the Roe Valley, but as a retail centre it is subject to increasing competition from Derry, Coleraine and to a lesser extent Ballymena.
Limavady and its surrounding settlements derive from Celtic roots, although no-one is sure about the exact date of Limavady’s origins. Estimates date from around 5 AD. Early records tell of Saint Columbkille, who presided over a meeting of the Kings at Mullagh Hill, which is just outside Limavady, now part of the Roe Park Golf Resort, in 575 AD.
Celtic Ireland was divided into kingdoms, each ruled by their own family or clan. In the Limavady area, the predominate family was the O’Cahans. Their mark is found everywhere in the town and surrounding area. O’Cahan’s Rock is one of Limavady’s main historical points. This is where, according to local myth, a dog belonging to one of the Chiefs jumped the river to get help from nearby clans after a surprise enemy attack. This gave Limavady its name, Limavady being the anglicised version of Leim an Mhadaidh, which means leap of the dog . This rock, along with other relics of Limavady’s history, can be seen at Roe Valley Country Park.
Limavady is most famous for the tune Derry Air, collected by Jane Ross in the mid-19th century from a local fiddle player. She later used the tune for the song Danny Boy. Between the 12th and 17th centuries the area was ruled by the O Cahan clan. This world famous song Danny Boy is taken from a melody composed by O Cahan bard Rory Dall O Cahan. The original version concerns the passing of the Chief Cooey-na-Gall whose death brought an end to a long line of O Cahan chiefs in Northern Ireland.
The town hosts international events such as the Danny Boy Festival, the Limavady Jazz and Blues Festival and the Roe Valley Folk Festival.