Joy at plans to bring home the Broighter Gold to Limavady

Tom Nicholl, left, who found the Broighter gold hoard, with sons John, centre, and Tom. (1904PG09)
Tom Nicholl, left, who found the Broighter gold hoard, with sons John, centre, and Tom. (1904PG09)

Every wall in the home of Ronnie Nicholl from Limavady is adorned with photos reflecting happy and proud periods of his life.

From his longtime involvement in local Council politics and the Fire Service, to precious moments spent with family and friends, they’re all there on the walls.

Among them is a black and white photo of Ronnie’s dad, Tom and his brother. Beside them is their father - Ronnie’s grandfather, farmer Tom Nicholl.

Some say it is Tom Nicholl, from Tullyhoe near Ballykelly, who put Limavady “on the map” after he unearthed the famous Broighter Gold Hoard.

Ronnie remembers his grandfather well, a tall, quiet man who was hard working man and proud of his family.

“He never really talked about it much but, one day I asked him, and he told me how he was out ploughing with James Morrow and something had ‘catched on the plough’!

“He said he didn’t know what it was, and threw the objects into the root of the tree and carried on ploughing.

“He said he minded about them when he finished and went back and gave them to granny.

“She said they had been twinkling, but when she washed them in the kitchen sink, they were gleaming!”

Ronnie says growing up he wasn’t too interested in the gold, as he was too busy caring for his siblings.

“They meant nothing to me. As far I was concerned they were just a few gold ornaments,” he said.

“It was the middle of the war and I hadn’t a big lot of time to be caring about them. “

It was only in later years, during a visit to the National Museum of Ireland that Ronnie realised just how precious his grandfather’s find was.

“The man I was with asked if I’d seen it and I said, ‘no’ so he said ‘come on and we’ll go and see it’, so off we went.

“When he mentioned to one of the curators I was the grandson of Tom Nicholl, the man who discovered it, they made a right fuss of me.

“They were all over me, telling me how the gold was a big attraction and asking lots of questions about my grandfather.

“I told them I couldn’t tell them very much!”

Now, what is described as one of the most significant gold finds made in Ireland, the Broighter hoard is coming home to Limavady to mark the 400th anniversary of the town.

The ‘Journal’ exclusively revealed the news earlier this year and, when it arrives in the Roe Valley, it will be proudly on display at the new multi million pound Arts & Cultural Centre.

Ronnie says he and his family can’t help but be proud of his grandfather.

“Yes, it is a very good thing, as I know they have been trying to get it here to Limavady for years,” he said.

“People will go and see it, and talk about it so, yes, I suppose you could say I’m proud.”