Rare United Irishmen Nevin jug donated to museum

James McMullan with the Nevin jug. INBM24-15
James McMullan with the Nevin jug. INBM24-15

Ballymoney Museum has recently received an exceptionally rare donation with links to the United Irishmen and the Rebellion of 1798 - a jug which commemorates the life of John Nevin of Derrykeighan.

John Nevin was an officer in the secret, illegal army of the United Irishmen and he was well known to the magistrates and yeomanry of this region during the 1790s.

He trained his men at Derrykeighan, near Dervock, under cover of darkness. The local magistrate, Edmund Alexander McNaghten, was determined to bring him to justice to prevent him from recruiting more of his Presbyterian neighbours and friends to the rebel ranks. Several attempts were made to arrest Nevin but he always managed to escape.

After the rebellion failed in Ulster, John Nevin was smuggled out of the country and later made a new life in Tennessee, USA. When he died there in 1806, his family commissioned a set of three ornamental china jugs in his memory, measuring a quart, a half-gallon and a gallon. Descendants of John Nevin donated the smallest of these jugs to the museum many years ago, along with his sword and spurs.

Until recently, the whereabouts of the other jugs was a mystery and it was a great surprise when Mr. James McMullan brought the gallon jug into the museum and offered it for donation to the collection.

Keith Beattie, the Museum Manager, expressed his gratitude for the generous donation: “Our sincere thanks to Mr. McMullan for this wonderful addition to our collection.

“This beautiful jug is a rare and important artefact from a time of great upheaval in North Antrim. Many tales about Nevin have been recorded and it’s exciting to now have on display two of the jugs associated with this well known historical figure.”

The two Nevin jugs are on permanent display at Ballymoney Museum, Ballymoney Town Hall, Townhead Street. Opening hours are Monday-Thursday & Saturday 9am-5pm and Friday 9am-4.30pm.


9 June 1798 - the day when Manxmen burned down the toon!

Tuesday, 9 June is the anniversary of the fateful day when the Crown forces, led by Lord Henry Murray and the 2nd Corps, Royal Manx Fencibles arrived in Ballymoney and burned the town. The town was deserted as the inhabitants had left to join the insurgent army which was gathering at Kilraughts. Finding the town empty, Murray ordered the Manxmen to set fire to any house owned by a known rebel. Two rebels were later hanged from the clock tower in the centre of Ballymoney.