BUILT around 1860, Rascahan House in Limavady is appropriately home to a group of inquisitive historians keen on tracing local ancestry.
Launched in January 2017 Roe Valley Ancestral Researchers (RVAR) is a voluntary organisation based on the Ballykelly Road, focused on researching local genealogy and the social history of the Roe Valley.
Led by Betty McNerlin the group record and celebrate the cultural heritage of the area, helping people from near and far trace their family roots so they too can call the Roe Valley their home.
With a vast database of all local gravestones, and over 70,000 historical photographs documented, RVAR provide immediate access to families and clans that have lived in the Roe Valley.
Tourist and historians from across the globe visit and have researched and traced their ancestors back to the area of the Roe Valley.
Betty said: “We provide a vital historical service here, as well as other services to support people in the area.
“Rascahan House is really a community hub where various groups meet for a chat or use the facilities of the old house.
“Myself and Matt (Ferguson) currently live in the house and maintain it and ensure the history is preserved.
“The Roe Valley is so rich in culture yet many visitors do not know that, there is a distinct lack of genealogy tourism information for this area.”
RVAR's committee is dedicated to involvement with funders, other local researchers and community groups to ensure as much culture as possible is accessed.
Three non-profit organisations have come together to buy Rascahan House and yard, under the stewardship of Betty and team.
She added: “We have created a community education hub with a small museum and tea room.
“Our members are mostly older people (60+) who can access local history and social education programmes.
“We provide a drop-in centre, with tea and memories, time to talk, time to engage with others of the same age, share photos and family stories.
“We want to leave a legacy for our next generations.”
Co-founder of Roe Valley Ancestral Researchers, Matt Ferguson told the Northern Constitution: “We help people look into their family history and record their part in the Roe Valley.
“Everyone is welcome to come here and we can show you the benefits of the group and of our database which only costs £15 a year to access.
“We are very proud of what we do and we feel it is important having this community base where people can come and be a part of.”