Ulster Folk & Transport Museum

The Old Rectory

Ballycultra Town building 25

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This is an original building. The large, stone-built, two-storied house was built in 1717 and came from the townland of Lismacloskey, about one mile east of Toomebridge on the old road to Randalstown, County Antrim. It was dismantled and moved to the Folk Museum in 1971.

There are no known records to show when the house was built. However in 1972 scientists at Queen’s University, Belfast, analysed the growth rings in samples of oak timber taken from the roof and fixed the date of construction as 1717.

The house is remarkable for its age, with its steeply pitched thatched roof and impressive chimney breast. The wall oven in the kitchen is a feature associated with early English Planter settlement. In the early 1830s a building extension at one gable end, behind the hearth added two new rooms to the house; an upper bedroom and a downstairs room, the parlour.

The McCullagh family lived in the house for most of its history. McCullagh family tradition yielded the name of an earlier resident of the house, a Captain Archibald McCallion who had fought as an officer in the British forces during the American War of Independence.

The Reverend Robert McCullagh was the first McCullagh to live in the rectory. He was a Church of Ireland clergyman and curate of the parish of Duneane, Toome, County Antrim. He died of an apoplexy in 1824, on the day his twelfth child Frederick was born.

Frederick McCullagh inherited the house and farm and lived there until his death, in 1911. In the early 1900s the household consisted of Frederick’s widow, Abigail, and two unmarried daughters; Emily Jane, a National school teacher and Margaret, a clerk in the Post Office. There was also one young household servant, Bridget Donnelly.

The property passed out of family ownership in the 1930s when it was sold to a local farmer.  By the 1950s the house was unoccupied and used as a farm store.

Look at the steeply pitched thatched roof, impressive chimney breast and the wall oven in the kitchen.  The oak press, table and two of the armchairs in the kitchen predate the house and were made in the 1600s.