All Lewis entries for Ramoan


More information on Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837)
Accompanying Lewis map for Antrim


BALLYCASTLE, a sea-port, market and post-town, in the parish of RAMOAN, barony of CAREY, county of ANTRIM, and province of ULSTER, 9- miles (N. E. by E.) from Dervock, and 132 miles (N.) from Dublin: containing 1683 inhabitants. This place, in the Irish language called Ballycashlain, or "Castletown," derived that name from a castle built here in 1609 by Randolph, Earl of Antrim, who was directed by Jas. I. to raise "faire castels" at reasonable distances on his vast estates, that the country might be the more speedily civilized and reduced to obedience. The town is advantageously situated on the northern coast, at the head of the fine bay to which it gives name, and in a beautiful valley at the foot of Knocklayd, opposite to the island of Rathlin. It consists of the Upper and Lower Town, of which the latter, called the Quay, is separated from the former by a road bordered with fine trees, which, sheltered by the hills intervening between them and the coast, have attained a stately and luxuriant growth. The houses, amounting, in 1831, to 275 in number, are in general neatly built, and in both portions of the town are several of handsome appearance. Within the distance of half a mile from Ballycastle are the elegant seats of C. McGildowny, Esq., Capt. Boyd, A. and J. McNeale, Esqrs., and several others. It was formerly a place of great manufacturing and commercial importance, abounding with various works upon a large scale, among which were extensive breweries, glass-houses, salt-works, and spacious warehouses; and in the immediate neighbourhood were extensive collieries, the produce of which formed a material article in its trade. In 1730, endeavours were made in the Irish parliament to erect it into a place of import and export, but were successfully opposed by the Irish Society and the corporation of Londonderry. It had a spacious harbour, in which 74-gun ships could anchor in safety in any weather, and upon the improvement of which £130,000 had been expended; also a pier and quay, the construction of which cost £30,000. But this high degree of prosperity, which the town attained under the auspices of Hugh Boyd, Esq., began to decline soon after that gentleman's decease, and all that at present remains of its trade is a small fishery carried on by a few boats in the bay. The harbour is now completely choked up; the pier and quay are a heap of ruins; the custom-house has been converted into a whiskey shop, the breweries are untenanted, the glass-houses have been converted into a carpenter's shops, and the mansion-house is a parish school. The collieries, which extended nearly a mile in length along the coast, and from which from 10,000 to 15,000 tons were annually exported, subsequently declined; the estate is now in chancery, and the works, which had been conducted with success from a very remote period, are discontinued. They were situated in the adjoining parish of Culfeightrin, but were always called the Ballycastle collieries, and occupied the northern face of Cross Hill, an eminence nearly 500 feet in height, of which about 150 feet are formed by a cap of columnar basalt resting on alternating of strata sandstone and clay-slate, extending 150 feet in depth, immediately under which is the bed of coal, at an elevation of 200 feet above the level of the beach. No manufactures are carried on at present, with the exception of a few webs of linen, which are woven in the houses of some of the farmers; a little fishing is carried on in the bay, but the inhabitants are principally employed in agriculture. The market is on Tuesday, and a great market is held on the first Tuesday in every month; the fairs are on Easter-Tuesday, the last Tuesdays in May, July, and August, Oct. 25th, and Nov. 22nd, for Raghery ponies, horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, linen yarn, and pedlery. Here is a station of the constabulary police; also a coast-guard station, which is the head of a district comprising also the stations of Port Rush, Port Ballintrae, Port Ballintoy, Rathlin Island, Tom Head, Cushendun, and Cushendall, and under the charge of a resident inspecting commander. A manorial court is held by the seneschal every month, for the recovery of debts and the determination of pleas to the amount of £20 by attachment and civil bill process; its jurisdiction extends over the entire barony of Carey, with the exception of Armoy. A court baron is also held in April and October; and petty sessions are held every alternate Tuesday. There is a very good market-house, and a commodious court-house, in which the courts and petty sessions are held. A handsome church, in the Grecian style of architecture, with a lofty octagonal spire, was erected in 1756, at the sole expense of H. Boyd, Esq.: the stone for building it was procured from the quarries in the parish, which were then worked on that gentleman's estate. It is a chapelry, in the diocese of Connor, endowed with £60 per ann., of which £20 per ann. is paid by the trustees of Primate Boulter's augmentation fund, and the remainder by the patron, H. Boyd, Esq., descendant of the founder. There is neither glebe-house nor glebe. The R. C. chapel is a small building and there are places of worship for Presbyterians and Wesleyan Methodists the former in connection with the Synod of Ulster and of the third class. There are several schools in the town, principally supported by the resident gentry. H. Boyd, Esq., in 1762, built and endowed with the rental of the townlands of Carnside and Ballylinney, reserving only £40 for the incumbency of Ballycastle, 20 almshouses near the church, for poor men, or the widows of poor men who had worked eight years in the collieries or other works on his estate ; they are still maintained, and are tenanted by the deserving poor of the town under the superintendance of the Primate, the Bishop, and the Chancellor of Connor for the time being, whom he appointed trustees for the management of the lands. There are some ruins of the castle from which the town derived its name also some ruins of Bona Margy, a religious house founded in 1509 by Charles Mac Donnell, for monks of the Franciscan order, and one of the latest of those establishments which were founded in Ireland; the remains of the chapel are the most perfect. This is the burial-place of the Antrim family, who have put a new roof upon a small oratory erected over the ashes of their ancestors, over the window of which is a Latin inscription scarcely legible, importing that it was built in 1621 by Randolph Mac Donnell, Earl of Antrim. In 1811 was found, by the side of a rivulet near the town, a flexible rod of gold composed of twisted bars 38 inches long, hooked at each end, and weighing 20 ounces and a half; it was undoubtedly a Roman torques, and probably brought hither by some of the Danish or Scottish ravagers of Roman Britain. There is a strong chalybeate spring near the town; and on the shores are found chalcedony, opal, jasper, and dentrites.


RAMOAN, or RATHMORAN, a parish, in the barony of CAREY, county of ANTRIM, and province of ULSTER ; containing, with the post-town of Ballycastle (which is separately described), 4739 inhabitants. This place, called also Rathmona, signifying "the fort in the bog," is situated on the sea-shore, and forms the western boundary of Ballycastle bay. The coast, consisting of bold, precipitous cliffs, is here too abrupt to afford a convenient landing-place, except the quay at Ballycastle, which was constructed at considerable expense, though now in a dilapidated state. The parish comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 12,066- statute acres, principally under cultivation ; the system of agriculture is highly improved, but the lands in several parts being very much exposed. the wheat does not ripen well. The quality of the land differs much, but is in general productive, and the extensive mountain of Knocklaide affords good pasturage : it is one of the highest in the county, half being within this parish, and the other half in that of Armoy ; its summit is 1685 feet above the level of the sea at low water. There are considerable tracts of bog near the Coleraine road, and of waste land in the line towards the Giants' Causeway, and near the base of Knocklaide. Coal of excellent quality is found here, but no mines have been opened, though the collieries in the adjoining parish of Culfeightrim, usually known as the Ballycastle collieries, were formerly worked to a considerable extent. Superior freestone, in colour and grain equal to Portland stone, is quarried here, but not to any great extent. The spinning of linen yarn, and the weaving of cloth, are carried on in some of the farm-houses. A market and fairs, and courts leet and baron, are held at Ballycastle. Clare Park is the elegant seat of Chas. McGildowney, Esq. ; Glenbank, of Mrs. Cuppage ; and the glebe-house, of the Rev. Leslie Greery.

The living was formerly a vicarage, united to that of Culfeightrim, the rectories of which, since 1609, were appropriate to the chancellorship of Connor, till 1831, when, on the decease of Dr. Trail, the last chancellor, it became a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Connor, under the provisions of the act of the 5th of Geo. IV., cap. 80, and now constitutes the corps of the chancellorship, with cure of souls, in the patronage of the Bishop. The tithes amount to £400 : the glebe-house was built in 1809, at an expense of £480, of which £369 was a gift, and £110 a loan, from the late Board of First Fruits ; the glebe comprises 26 acres of good arable land, valued at £39 per annum, The church is a small edifice, and was rebuilt in 1812, at an expense of £369, a loan from the same Board : it contains some very ancient monu-ments. There is also an endowed church, or chapel, at Ballycastle, In the R. C. divisions the parish is called Ballycastle ; it contains two chapels, one in the town, the other at Glenslush. There are two places of worship for Presbyterians, in connection with the Synod of Ulster, one of which is in the town, and the other near the church ; both are of the third class : there is also a Methodist meeting-house. About 400 children are educated in five public schools, of which the parochial school is principally supported by the rector ; and in five private schools are about 180 children. There are also six Sunday schools. At Ballycastle are alinshouses founded by Hugh Boyd, Esq., who also endowed a charter school, now discontinued, near the church, with 12 acres of land. On the summit of Knocklaide is a tumulus called Cair-n-an-Truagh, said traditionally to be the burial-place of three Danish princesses. There are several raths in the parish, some terminating in a pointed apex, and others flat on the top like a truncated cone ; of the latter sort, one, within a quarter of a mile of the town, is called Dun-a-Mallaght, the "cursed fort." The castle of Doonaninney stands on a bold headland, 300 feet above the level of the sea, commanding the channel and the isle of Rathlin : two miles westward are the noble and romantic ruins of Kinbane, or Kenbann, castle, built on a projecting cliff of limestone rock, running out several hundred feet into the sea, under some bold headlands, which rise 280 feet above the ruins, In the town of Ballycastle are the remains of the edifice which gave name to the place ; an uninteresting gable is all that exists : about two miles hence, on the Glenslush water, are the ruins of a very extraordinary castle, called Goban-Saor, which once was the residence of the powerful chieftain O'Cahan : and immediately adjoining the quay of Ballycastle are the interesting ruins of the abbey of Bonamargy, founded by Mac Donnell, in 1509, which was perhaps the latest erected in Ireland for Franciscan monks ; the chapel is in tolerable preservation, being the burial-place of the Antrim family. According to Archdall, St. Patrick founded a religious house here, called Rath-Moane, in which he placed St. Ereclasius. Vast quantities of beautiful pebbles are found along the shore, among which are chalcedony, opal, dentrites, and belemnites. On the lands of Drumans, on the side of the great mountain of Knocklaide, is a spring, the waters of which are strongly chalybeate, and may be conveyed to distant places without any diminution of their effect.

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