Graham, John (1776-1844) (DNB00)

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GRAHAM, JOHN (1776–1844), historian, born in 1776 in co. Fermanagh, Ireland, was grandson of Lieutenant James Graham of Clones, and great-grandson of James Graham of Mullinahinch, who was a cornet at the defence of Enniskillen in 1689. The family was transplanted to Ulster from Cumberland in the early part of the seventeenth century. He graduated B.A. in 1798 and M.A. in 1815 at Trinity College, Dublin, was ordained in the established church of Ireland, and obtained the curacy of Lifford, co. Donegal. He had witnessed the celebration of the centenary of the siege of Londonderry in 1788, and had been brought up in admiration of its heroes. In 1819 he published, by the aid of Lord Kenyon, in London, ‘Annals of Ireland, Ecclesiastical, Civil, and Military,’ an account compiled from numerous authorities of the wars in Ireland, which began in October 1641. In 1823 he published at Londonderry ‘Derriana,’ consisting of a history of the siege of Londonderry and defence of Enniskillen in 1688 and 1689, with historical poetry and biographical notes. It is a clear and interesting account of the siege, based on the journals of the defenders and other contemporary records. One of the poems, ‘The Shutting of the Gates,’ is a spirited ballad of six stanzas, which attained widespread popularity in the district, and may still be heard in farmhouses between the Foyle and the Ban, where these lines are felt—

Cold are the hands that closed that gate
Against the wily foe,
But here to time's remotest date
Their spirit still shall glow.

A second edition of the book, without the poems, was published in Dublin in 1829, and the poems were printed separately in the same year. In April 1824 Graham obtained the rectory of Tamlaght-ard, commonly called Magilligan, on the coast of county Derry, and here he resided till his death, 6 March 1844. In 1839 he published in Dublin ‘A History of Ireland from the Relief of Londonderry in 1689 to the Siege of Limerick in 1691,’ a book much read in the north of Ireland. He often took part in Orange celebrations, but always expressed good feeling towards the Roman catholics, and was popular in his district, where many stories of his eccentricities remain. Sir Walter Scott wrote to him, and is said to have admired his ballads.

[Works; local information; Erck's Ecclesiastical Register, 1830.]

N. M.