GLENS OF ANTRIM

[Extracts from the Glens of Antrim list by C E B Brett, published by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society in 1971.]

The List covers Ballycastle, Carnlough, Cushendall, Cushendun, Fair Head, Glenaan, Glenarm, Glenariff, Glenballyemon, Glencloy, Glencorp, Glendun, Glenshesk, Glentow, Murlough Bay, Red Bay, Torr and Waterfoot.

 

CUSHENDALL

Cushendall is splendidly sited in the curve of the River Dall, with Lurigethan towering above it to the South, the small but steep hills of Tieveragh and Court MacMartin to the north. In 1835 James Boyle wrote of it: "it is within the last hundred years that Cushendall became entitled to the denomination of a town or village, as about that time it consisted of about 6 or 8 of the most wretched description of cabins which stood in the vicinity of a Mill." But now, in 1835, it "consists of two streets intersecting each other at the centre of the town and contains 113 houses, of which 16 are three storey, 49 are two storey and the remainder one storey cabins. They are all built of stone and the two and three storey houses are mostly all slated and of a tolerable description.... several good two storey houses are now being built in various parts of the town; they are all of stone and seem intended for people in business." The stone has in almost every case become overlaid with stucco or rendering, and to-day Cushendall is a little town of great charm, its centre having much coherence and character, but rather seedy-looking; it would greatly benefit from a judicious (but not excessive) scheme for co-ordinated repainting.

The town as it stands is very largely the creation of the eccentric East Indian Nabob, Francis Turnly, who altered the course of the river to make it more romantic, and built many of the more notable buildings. Unfortunately, his occasional residence, 'The Cottage', in the wood above Shore Street, "a neat little two-storey house with a flat roof beautifully situated", is no longer recognisable. The other "gentleman's seat" in the vicinity, Glenville House, which stands in a dominant position above the town, has unhappily been mutilated very recently, though it is still imposing from a distance.

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MILL STREET

Turnly's Tower

1809; a truly remarkable romantic building, providing at once the pivot and focus for the central crossing of the town, and built by Francis Turnly, the East India Company nabob, of Drumnasole and Richmond Lodge, Holywood. "Though eccentric, and perhaps demented, he erected extraordinary improvements in the buildings and roads on his property." "The tower was the great object of Mr. Turnly's thoughts; among his papers were instructions given to Dan McBride, an army pensioner, whom he appointed its guard. It was always to be provisioned for a year; it was to have a permanent 'garrison of one man', who was not to leave it night or day; it was to be armed with one musket, a bayonet, a case of pistols, and a pike, thirteen feet long, having a cross of wood or iron on its handle, so that it could not be pulled through the hole guarding the doorways." It was erected "as a place of confinement for idlers and rioters", but is now, in part, used as a dwelling.

The Tower is 20 feet square, tapered, and rises four storeys to a height of 40 feet, topped by modest battlements; on each of its four faces there are projecting windows, with a murder-hole in the base of the lowest. It is built of a rich red sandstone rubble, one wall being slate-hung. In the base of the east wall is inset a modest fountain capped by Mr. Turnly's initials. The doorway is narrow and round headed; the door itself is most medieval, sheathed in iron with knobs on it.

Boyle, in 1835, wrote "It is not at all ornamental in its structure and is said to have been built after the model of some Chinese tower". To a modern eye it appears entirely Romantic and Western European.

Refs: O'Laverty p.539; P.G, p.559; Boyle

[The Tower, generally known as the Curfew Tower, was purchased and restored by Hearth Revolving Fund in 1992-93, and subsequently sold. Its present owner, the writer Bill Drummond, established in 1999 a residency in the Tower for artists, which is managed by the In You We Trust.

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Court House and Market House

Perhaps c. 1836; described by Lewis in 1837 as 'a convenient building', but not mentioned by Chaytor or Boyle, nor shown either on the original Ordnance maps nor on the revision of 1857. It is, however, mentioned in the Griffith valuation of 18S9. Puzzling as this is the style of the building, taken with the mention in Lewis, lead one to think that here perhaps (as occasionally elsewhere) the Ordnance Surveyors sinned by omission. A sensible and dignified two-storey five bay building of well-dressed reddish sandstone. The lower storey comprises a wide central segmental-headed market arch and two flanking round-headed doorways; above are five window-openings, now blocked with corrugated iron. There is a single-storey addendum of the same stone, designed as a weigh-house and known as "the pork store". The group is set back behind its market yard at the turn of the main street, its back well set on the river bank. Now neglected and under threat of demolition, it has been - and easily could still be - both of ornament and utility to the village.

[The Court House was not converted to a library - sadly a modern building now stands in its place in the village. However the old building was taken down and removed to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra, where it may be seen today].

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SHORE STREET

Northern Bank


A very strange building indeed. The original building on the site, extended by T.J.O'Neill in 1914, was accidentally burned in 1922; it looks as though its successor incorporates part of the original shell. The building is generally of blue-painted stucco, with cream details including glazing in the style of the 1850's; but beneath uncommonly wide eaves there is a strange chocolate-cake-filling layer of brick and tile work, incorporating the name of the Bank and large ornamental red-tile beauty-spots.
Ref: IB 1914 166

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