By Julie Huss
DERRY — An Irish film crew worked in Derry and Londonderry last week as part of a documentary on one well-known resident.
A BBC crew from Northern Ireland came to work on a three-part documentary series on the history of Ulster Presbyterians in the area. That brought them to First Parish Church and also to Presbyterian Church in Londonderry.
The life of the Rev. James MacGregor, one of Derry's earliest settlers, was a point of interest. The spiritual leader arrived in Derry from Ireland with his band of families, settling in what was then called Nutfield in the early 1700s to begin new lives and practice their Ulster Presbyterian faith.
Many of those earliest settlers are buried in historic Forest Hill Cemetery, including MacGregor.
The BBC film will document this area's history and its ties to Northern Ireland.
First Parish planned a special service and spaghetti dinner to welcome their Irish guests Friday night.
Town historian Richard Holmes said it's important to maintain ties between Derry and Londonderry and the original ancestral homes in Northern Ireland.
Those earliest settlers were lucky to have someone like MacGregor leading the charge in the new land, he said.
"The fact that he came here and there wasn't even a road here," Holmes said. "He had to be tough."
MacGregor went on to have 10 children.
The BBC visit is only one indication of a recent interest in connecting the two countries that share names like MacGregor, Cargill, Nesmith and Morrison.
Earlier this year, visitors representing Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, came to Derry to extend an invitation to anyone who might like to visit their country in 2013 to learn more about their ancestors and history.
Next year, Derry's namesake town in Ireland will celebrate being named the first United Kingdom City of Culture.
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