Draperstown (/ˌdrɛpərzˈtn, ˌdrpərz-/)[3] is a village in the Sperrin Mountains in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It is situated in the civil parish of Ballinascreen and is part of Mid-Ulster district. It is also part of the Church of Ireland parish of Ballynascreen and the Catholic parish of Ballinascreen, and within the former barony of Loughinsholin.

Draperstown, Derry - Londonderry - geograph.org.uk - 512398.jpg
High Street, Draperstown with former courthouse at centre
Draperstown is located in Northern Ireland
Location within Northern Ireland
Population1,772 (2011 Census)
CountryNorthern Ireland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtBT
Dialling code028
NI Assembly
List of places
Northern Ireland
County Londonderry
54°47′38″N 6°46′59″W / 54.794°N 6.783°W / 54.794; -6.783Coordinates: 54°47′38″N 6°46′59″W / 54.794°N 6.783°W / 54.794; -6.783

The village lies at the intersection of the townlands of Moykeeran (from Irish Maigh Chaortain 'plain of the rowan'),[4] Moyheeland (from Irish Maigh Chaolain 'plain of the marshy stream'),[5] Cahore and Tonaght.[6]


Draperstown had its name bestowed upon it in 1818 by the Worshipful Company of Drapers, which had previously named Moneymore as Draperstown.[7]

Prior to this however the settlement was originally known as "Borbury" (from Irish: Bóthar Buí, meaning 'yellow road').[2][7] It was then recorded as being called "The Cross" in 1813 and "Moyheelan" in 1821.[7]

Despite the name given to it by the Drapers' Company, locals continued to commonly refer to the settlement with a variety of names:

  • The Cross, in reference to the crossroads where the market was held,[7]
  • Moyheelan, after the townland of Moyheeland (from Irish: Maigh Chaoláin, meaning 'plain of the marshy stream'), which it was founded in,[7]
  • the Cross of Ballynascreen, after the fact that it was the main crossroads in the parish of Ballynascreen,[7]
  • Ballinascreen (from Irish: Baile na Scrine, meaning 'the land/territory of the shrine"'),[2][7] after the Roman Catholic parish.
  • Draperstown-cross,[7] after the crossroads that were the main feature of the settlement
  • Ballynacross, of which the Irish form Baile na Croise, meaning "townland of the crossroad", is used as the present Irish name for Draperstown.[2]

The term "screen" in the popular Irish song The Verdant Braes of Screen apparently refers to Ballinascreen.


The village began to emerge around the crossroads in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Prior to that, the crossroads was the location for occasional fairs. In the 1600s, at the time of the Plantation of Ulster, the expropriated land in the Ballinacreen area was allocated to two London Livery Companies. It was divided between the Drapers Company who took possession of the land west of the crossroads (Straw, Sixtowns and Moneyneena) while the Skinners Company took possession of the land to the east. Although settlers began to arrive, the livery companies did not develop the area until later.[8]

In 1760, the original St. Columba's Church of Ireland Church was built near the crossroads. In 1798, Laughlin McNamee, a publican from nearby Moneyneena, opened a public house at the crossroads where the local fair was held. He also built several houses. A broad main street, now known as St. Patricks’ Street, typical of Irish towns, began to develop along the road to Sixtowns. At this time this settlement became known by several names including the Cross of Ballinascreen, Moyheeland and Burboy. McNamee is buried at St. Columbas's Church in Straw. In 1812, the Drapers Company built a series of buildings including a courthouse at the other side of the crossroads from the main street. The company named it Draperstown, which was adopted by the Post Office as the official name of the village.[9] The Presbyterian Church opened in 1843[10] and St. Columba's Catholic Church at Straw opened in 1853.


The town lies within the Moyola District Electoral Area of Mid-Ulster District Council which elects five councillors out of the 40 members of the council. In the 2019 Mid Ulster District Council election, the five elected councillors included three members of Sinn Féin, one member of the Democratic Unionist Party and one member of the Official Unionist Party.

It is located within the Mid Ulster (Assembly constituency) in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Mid Ulster (UK Parliament constituency). The current MP is Francie Molloy of Sinn Féin.


The town largely acts as a service centre for the surrounding farming communities. The main store in the town is the EuroSpar. There are a range of other smaller shops. There is also a livestock mart in the town for the sale of cattle, sheep and pigs. The mart has weekly sales.[11]

Churches and Local landmarksEdit

Church of the Holy Rosary

The Catholic Parish of Ballinascreen covers the town of Draperstown and surrounding district. The first church in the area dates back to at least the eighth century. It was a monastery church called Scrin Colimbkille (Columbcille's shrine) which is located in the townland of Moneyconey outside the town. The parish gets its name from this shrine the ruins of which are still visible. There are four active churches in the parish.

  • The new Church of the Holy Rosary located on the Derrynoid Road opened in 1979. This replaced St. Mary's Oratory which had opened in 1928.
  • The older St. Columba's Church which is located on the Sixtowns Road at Straw opened in 1853.
  • St. Patrick's Church in Sixtowns opened in 1854.
  • St. Eugene's Church, Moneyneany opened in 1902.[12]
St Columba's Church of Ireland

There are two other churches both of which are listed buildings. These are:

  • St. Columba's Church, Church of Ireland, Tobermore Road, built 1888. The original church on this site was built in 1760, before the town itself.
  • Presbyterian Meeting House, 47 High Street, built 1843.

The Courthouse, 20 High Street, built 1839 is also a listed building.[13] It is now used as a library.[14]

In 1979, the core of the village was designated a Conservation Area.[15]


Draperstown is classified as a village by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (i.e. with population between 1,000 and 2,250 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 1,638 people living in Draperstown.[16] Of these:

  • 24.4% were aged under 16 and 15.0% were aged 60 and over
  • 48.9% of the population were male and 51.1% were female
  • 96.7% were from a Catholic background and 2.8% were from a Protestant background
  • 4.3% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.

The village had a population of 1,772 people in the 2011 Census.


The town lies at the junction of the B40 (High Street and Derrynoid Roads), B41 (Tobermore Road) and B47 (St. Patrick's Street and Sixtowns Road). There is a regular bus service through the town. Ulsterbus routes 112 and 112a are from Magherafelt to Draperstown via the B40. Route 403 is from Magherafelt to Omagh passing through Draperstown via the B40 and B47.[17]

Draperstown railway station opened on 20 July 1883, closed for passenger traffic on 1 October 1930 and finally closed altogether on 3 July 1950.[18] The Draperstown branch ran from Magherafelt with an intermediate station at Desertmartin.

Irish LanguageEdit

Although the dominant language of the residents of Draperstown has been English for the past century, in the surrounding rural areas the Irish language was widely spoken up until the late nineteenth century. Indeed, there is evidence that it was still spoken in some households in the 1930s and later. Although the most prominent native Irish speaker was Éilis Ní Dhonnghaile (1857–1935) of Labby, records of other Irish speakers included the Murray sisters in Moneyneena (1931), Peig James (1943) and Hannah James (1947); Matthew Regan, Draperstown (1942); and Mary Anne Doherty, Moneyneena and Antrim (1965).[19] There have been attempts to promote the speaking of Irish in the area with the opening of an Irish language nursery and primary school. Pupils from the primary school can proceed to the Irish language secondary school Gaelcholáiste Dhoire in Dungiven.


  • Naíscoil na Speiríní, an Irish language medium pre-school, in which all subjects are taught in Irish.
  • Gaelscoil na Speiríní, an Irish language medium primary school, in which all subjects are taught in Irish.
  • St Mary's Primary School
  • St Colm's High School



According to the Ulster Towns Directory, the following were the ten most common surnames in the town in 1910: Bradley, Connor, Donnelly, Henry, Kelly, Murray, McKenna, McNamee, O'Kane and O'Neill.[20]

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Gaun forrit". Special EU Programmes Body. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d The Placenames Branch (Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs) [1]
  3. ^ Toner, Gregory. Place-Names of Northern Ireland, p. 85. Queen's University of Belfast, 1996; ISBN 0-85389-613-5
  4. ^ "Moykeeran". PlaceNamesNI. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  5. ^ "Moyheelan". PaceNamesNI. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  6. ^ "Map of boundaries". PlacenamesNI. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Toner, Gregory; Place-Names of Northern Ireland, Volume Five, County Derry I, The Moyola Valley, 1996. ISBN 0-85389-613-5
  8. ^ "History". Draperstown. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  9. ^ Lewis, Samuel (1837). A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  10. ^ "Our history". Draperstown Presbyterian Church. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Draperstown Livestock Market". Irish Tractor. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Parish history". Parish of Ballinascreen. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  13. ^ "Natural Stone Data base". Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  14. ^ "The Diamond, Draperstown". Geograph. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  15. ^ "Draperstown Conservation Area". Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  16. ^ Ward Information for Draperstown at NINIS Website
  17. ^ "Find a timetable". Translink. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  18. ^ "Draperstown station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 12 October 2007.
  19. ^ "Éilis Ní Dhonnghaile (1857–1935) of Labby, Draperstown". Gaelic Resources - Ciarán Ó Duibhín University of Highlands and Islands. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Ulster Towns Directory 1910: Draperstown". Library Ireland. Retrieved 28 December 2020.