DERRY — The big celebration officially began in Derry in April, honoring the 300th birthday of the original Nutfield settlement.

The kickoff Founders Weekend drew crowds to the historic First Parish Church in East Derry, known as the original meeting house in the area, for a long list of historical activities, tours, demonstrations, family ancestry, research opportunities and guest speakers.

First Parish is playing a big role in the Nutfield anniversary all this year, and is undergoing a major renovation project.

During Founders Weekend, a Nutfield Gala was held at the Derry Opera House where more guest speakers spoke of the history of the area and connections between America and Northern Ireland.

Gala guest speaker Richard Hanna, representing the Ulster-Scots Agency, told gala guests it was a privilege to be included in the Nutfield celebration.

“We consider all of you as our kinfolk,” Hanna said.

Derry’s first poet laureate Robert Crawford also read an original poem for the occasion, “At Beaver Lake.”

More anniversary events followed including a “Living Treasures” luncheon, a Sons of Union Veterans and Allies in a Civil War military encampment at Forest Hill Cemetery in East Derry, and the 135th birthday of the Molly Reid Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, honoring the group’s founder Annie Bartlett Shepard, grandmother to astronaut, first American in space and East Derry native Alan B. Shepard Jr.

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