New group brings the history of Rosemount area of Derry alive for young generations

Nostalgia page on Facebook has gained attention all around the world

A social media page about the rich past of the Rosemount area of Derry is bringing the history of the area to a new generation.

A decade ago, Rosemount man Dalton Kehoe founded the Rosemount Historical Society to collect photo- graphs and stories from people who grew up in what was once called  Rosemount Village.

In 2010, he hosted an exhibition held by the society in Brooke Park which attracted 500 people.

And earlier this year, the Glen Development Initiative used many of the images to create a 'Story of Rosemount' tourism trail featuring information boards on all the alleyway gates.

Now, a fresh generation of Rosemount residents have joined the 'Memories of Rosemount' Facebook page, which was founded by Frances Coyle Green and features many of Mr Kehoe's photographs.

"A lot of the younger people wouldn't join a page about a historical society but then when they see the old pictures with their mammy or their granny in them they are delighted," said Mr Kehoe.

"They'll say to their mammy 'look at the photo of you' and she'll say 'tell him to take that down I look awful in it'," he joked.

The page has attracted followers from England, America, Canada, and even Luxembourg, who once lived in Rosemount.

Mr Kehoe's parents, Burt woman Bridie Deehan and Liverpudlian RAF man Thomas Kehoe, met in Brooke Park.

The couple raised their 10 children in a small house in the old Osbourne Street, which they shared with Dalton's uncle.

"You hear about people who lived in a house that was two up and two down, well we slept in beds with two at the top and two at the bottom," he recalled.

When the new Osbourne Street was built on derelict land behind the Rosemount Factory, Mr Kehoe's family moved in and their former home in the old Osbourne Street was demolished.

Rosemount was always a very religiously mixed area, but with the outbreak of The Troubles in the 1970s a lot of protestant families moved to the Waterside.

"The saddest thing that ever happened in Rosemount was that a lot of the Protestant families left," he said.

Every December, the Rosemount Historical Society hosts a sit down meal in Brooke Park Leisure Centre where residents old and new from both sides of the community can meet up and reminisce.

The get together could not take place this year because of the coronavirus restrictions, but instead a book of stories about the area is being put together.

Mr Kehoe is very well known in Rosemount and he knows many of the residents by name from his time as a message boy for Taylor's Chemist when he was a teenager.

Around 1970, Taylor's Chemist was blown up by a bomb which had been left behind in a school satchel.

"We had only just got out of the building and we were standing across the street when it blew up and the explosion was all multicoloured because of all the chemicals in the pharmacy," he recalled.

Another dark day for the area was when Davy Campbell, the owner of Spar on Park Avenue, was kneecapped by paramilitaries.

"They had tried to bomb the shop twice before and both times Mr Campbell carried the bomb out into the street," said Mr Kehoe.

"So this time they pulled him out into the middle of the road and kneecapped him so he couldn't take it out.I saw it happening and I will never forget it."

The Post Office at the corner of Rosemount Avenue and Academy Road held the record for being the most robbed in the North.

But the tight-knit community have great affection for the area and many have lived there for decades.

"There's lots of families that have been here a long time like the McGuinnesses, the McDaids and the Harkins," said Mr Kehoe.

"It's a sought after area and houses are handed down through the generations.

"The oldest living resident is Mary McCallion who is 96 and still living at home where she is looked after by her children."

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