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A Pioneering Survey Of Heritage In Inishowen By Mabel R. Colhoun

A Pioneering Survey Of Heritage In Inishowen By Mabel R. Colhoun

A Pioneering Survey Of Heritage In Inishowen By Mabel R. Colhoun
Mabel Remington Colhoun was a pioneering female involved with archaeology at the turn of the 20th Century, who spent over fifty years of her life devoted to researching, recording and surveying heritage in the Inishowen landscape.
Mabel Remington Colhoun

Mabel R. Colhoun And Archaeology In Inishowen

Her life’s work in the area is best illustrated in “The Heritage of Inishowen: Its Archaeology, History and Folklore” published in 1995 following her death in 1992. What is so significant about Mabel’s work is it was the first of its kind in the region and to date her research has been a guide to many who wanted to expand on the current knowledge of heritage in the peninsula.
Malin Head Shore

View Of Signal Tower At Malin Head, Inishowen

Mabel R. Colhoun And The Inishowen Connection

Mabel’s ancestral home originated in the area of Knockglass, Malin, Inishowen a short distance from Ireland’s most northerly point at Malin Head pictured above. Her grandfather was a farmer from that region and her father later moved from Inishowen to Derry City where he set up a successful building company called the Colhoun Bros Ltd. Mabel herself was born at North Lodge Derry in 1905. With this in mind Mabel was born and raised in the city, but from an early age had spent many childhood summers in Inishowen with her family.  

Mabel Colhoun Inishowen Portrait

Portrait of Mabel R. Colhoun, Image Colhoun Archive, Tower Museum

On The Road To Archaeology In Inishowen

Mabel, pictured above, was raised in a household passionate about history, archaeology, built heritage and nature.With this in mind it is no surprise that Mabel herself would become heavily involved in these areas. Mabel acquired her initial training in archaeological field work in the 1930s & 40s on digs across Northern Ireland. As you can see below Mabel documented photographically the progress of excavations at Dungiven and Tamnyrankin in Northern Ireland. Using the skills Mabel gained on these digs and from the persuasion of experts in the field; Esytn Evans and Oliver Davies, Mabel would begin her own survey of the Inishowen Peninsula in 1940.
Archaeological Excavation

Archaeological Dig At Tamnyrankin Co. Derry, Image from Colhoun Archive, Tower Museum

During the war years, when their was a petrol shortage in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Mabel would travel to archaeological sites by bicycle. This would mean a distance, of in some cases, 32 miles to travel from her home in Deanfield, Derry to sites in Malin Head, Inishowen. A staggering commute considering Mabel would have had to carry survey equipment, notebooks and maps. You can see from the image below that Mabel was dedicated to learning as much as possible from heritage sites in Inishowen. The image is taken from the “Skull House” as it is described locally at Cooley Graveyard in Moville, Inishowen.
Mabel R. Colhoun Cooley

Mabel R. Colhoun investigating Cooley “Skull House” Moville, Inishowen

Mabel Colhoun Exhibition ~ Tower Museum

The Tower Museum, located in neighbouring Derry City have launched a fascinating exhibition which remembers and celebrates the life and work of Mabel Remington Colhoun.

Mabel Colhoun Exhibition

Mabel Colhoun Exhibition ~ Tower Museum

The exhibition displays a fantastic collection of Mabel’s personal belongings, artefacts, teaching resources and much more. It is a truly exciting time as we are discovering even more about a remarkable pioneer and our rich Heritage in the North West.

Heritage In Inishowen


Mabel Colhoun Archive