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Parish of Ramoan
THE parish of Ramoan, or Ballycastle, consists of the Civil parish of Ramoan 1 and a portion of the townland of Coolmaghera belonging to the civil parish of Ballintoy.
The castle of Kinban - "the white head " - that guarded the limestone promontory from which it is named, occupies a bold position over the chasm separating that promontory from the mainland. At present little remains of the fortress except a part of the keep, the remains of the gateway, and fragments of the courtyard and of the walls that once guarded the edges of the cliff. At the base of the headland is Lag-na-Sassanach - " the hollow of the English " - where, it is said, an English force once encamped to besiege the castle, but the garrison, having sailed out at night, occupied the height above the camp and rolled over the precipices masses of rock with which they crushed the enemy. Tradition, which in matters of this kind is a very fallacious guide, ascribes the erection of the castle to the MacHenrys, and states that it afterwards became the stronghold of the MacAlisters, a branch of the MacDonnells. Sir Thomas Cusake in his letter written - " From Lessmoolin, the 27th September, 1551," describes the defacement of the castle by the Lord Deputy, Sir James Crofts : -
"Coll M'Connyll (M'Donnell), second brother to James, had a strong castill buylded upon a rock, with a strong baan (bawn) of lyme and stoon, over the sea, named the castill of Keanbaan, which my Lord causid to be defaced, and brake much parte thairof, so as now it is not defensible, which I am sure thai neid had for soe muche more displeasir doon to thaim."
Colla MacDonnell soon repaired his fortress of Kinbann and held it till his death in May, 1558.
Carnmoon is named from an ancient cairn, the site of which is entered on the Ordnance Map, but it has long since been destroyed. The site of the fortress of Dunagregar is a promontory, of an immense height above the sea, in the townland of Carnduff. It measures from east to west 40 yards, and from north to south 30 yards ; but it was formerly much larger before some of the rocks on which it stood had fallen into the sea, that surrounded it on all sides except the south, where it was protected by a strong wall and deep trench. The walls which were of great thickness have, from time to time during the last 120 years, served for a quarry until castle, trench, and paved causeway, have all disappeared. A gold ring of large size and some silver coins were found on the site. It is said that the castle was held by three brothers named McGregor. The site of the cairn, which gave name to the townland, is 585 feet above the level of the sea. James Mullan found in 1833 a bronze sword in this townland. There is in his farm an artificial cave in which there is a spring of water. There are several artificial caves in Carnmoon and in the adjoining townland of Clare. One in the farm of Mr. MacGildowney, in Clare, is very extensive and contains several rooms. A similar cave is in the farm of Mr. George McCurdy but it is now closed. About 1838,. "a gold vessel much resembling a small bell, having on its top a sort of staple or handle and weighing 4 1/2 ounces, was found in Clare Park by Alexander Stewart, a labourer. It was sold for him in Dublin for 14 guineas by Charles MacGildowney, Esq." - See Ord. Surv. MS. 2 It was probably one half of a fibula. There formerly stood in the farm of John McCurdy a castle of considerable extent named Clare Castle. It is said to have been erected by the first of the MacNeill family. - Ord. Surv. MS. "The forty acres of Clare Castle" did not belong to Hugh MacNeill, they are mentioned in the Decree of Innocence as having been assigned, in 1629, by Randal, Earl of Antrim, to trustees for the jointure of his countess.
On the summit of a bold promontory, that rises to a fearful height above the sea, stand the shattered remains of the fortress of Doonaneeny (Dun-an-aenaighe - the fort of the assembly or fair") The area on which the castle stood is a smooth level, measuring from east to west 60 yards, and from north to south 35 yards. It was surrounded by the sea on all sides except the south, where it was protected by a moat extending from east to west 80 yards, cut chiefly through the solid rock. This trench is from 20 to 26 feet wide at the top, and averages 10 feet in width at the bottom, and is from 13 to 26 feet deep. This was crossed by a drawbridge - the only entrance - which from some indications seems to have been about 7 1/2 feet broad and 20 feet long. The gate tower was 28 feet long, and the doorway seems to have been 5 feet wide; on the east side of it within the thickness of the wall is an apartment 3 1/2 feet wide, 8 1/2 feet long. On the west side of the gateway is a small watch room. Part of the bolt-hole and a loop-hole remain. The gate-tower advances 3 feet 8 inches farther than the line of the curtain walls, which extend 11 feet on either side of the gate-tower. The highest part of the wall now remaining is only 12 1/2 feet, and every vestige of the castle which stood within the fortified area has disappeared. Large quantities of human bones and broken steel swords, with large guards, have been from time to time discovered in removing portions of the castle. The chieftains of the MacDonnells made this one of their principal strongholds, and from it they could watch their galleys gliding into Port Brittas, almost at its base. It fell into the hands of the English in Perrot's expedition, and William Stanley writes to his ~' verey lovinge cozen, Sir Henry Bagenall, Knight," from the fort "of Donanany, this 5th Janewary, 1584," telling him of the attack made on the English garrison located in the abbey of Bunamargy and that, "when Captayn Bowen's company came we caused them to lodge at the fort Donanynie," and tells that the captain had of his men "nyne in the ward of Donanany." When the old fort passed by charter with their other possessions to the MacDonnells, they appointed Hugh MacNeill, one of their retainers from Gigha, or Cantire, to be its constable. In 1612 Sir Randal granted Dunaneeny, together with the Ballycastle estate, to the constable. In 1606 Sir Randal obtained by charter the right of holding a Tuesday's market at "Dunanynie." The markets and fairs were held in the fields to the south of the old fortress but all have been transferred to Ballycastle.3
In the farm of George M'Curdy, in Gortaconny, there is a cave about 64 feet in length consisting of several apartments cut through the solid rock and roofed with flag-stones. James M'Ilmoyle has several stone arrow-heads called Elf stones that were found in this townland; he keeps them "for the cure of elf shot cattle."4
A gold pin was found in l825 in a bog in Gortaconny; it was taken to America. Many other antiquities have been found in the same bog which is in the vicinity of Carnsaggart; the site of the cam is 492 feet above the level of the sea. The cairn was destroyed about 1795, and a whinstone flag which now (1838) lies in a fence along the road; it is 3 feet 2 inches long, 2 feet 4 inches broad, and 9 inches thick; it formerly was much longer but was broken when it was removed from its original position in the cairn. It rested on a number of stone supporters. It is said that "there was on the top surface of it a Latin inscription with other devices, but the inscriptions have been altogether destroyed by people rubbing other stones across it" It is said that several priests were here killed, hence the name Carnsaggart-"the Priests' Cairn." About a furlong west of it was "the Priests' Well," now closed up with stones.-See Ord. Surv. MS. The cairn was obviously a sepulchral monument; it was one of the places at which Mass was celebrated in times of persecution, hence, probably, its name. There formerly stood, on an eminence in the farm of Robert Woodside, a very large Standing Stone, which was removed to Ballycastle and built into the harbour; at the same time there was placed beside it another huge monumental stone, which was removed from Cary; and thus was fulfilled one of the prophecies ascribed by popular belief to the famous Black Nun of Bunamargy, who, a century before, had foretold their future union.-See Ord. Surv. MS There is a cave in the farm of Duncan Black, in Novally. On the ordnance Map a mound named Dunfinn is entered in the townland of Carnsampson. The MS. says: "There is, in the farm of William Bailey, a small mound called Knocknahullar (the eagle's hill), but it is now reduced to a mere ruin. In Robert Hill's farm there was a strong fort. locally called 'the Trench,' under which was a cave. The fort is now greatly disfigured by houses and gardens." In the townland of Carnealty there is an extensive cave in William Hill's farm. In another cave in John Hill's farm were found hearths and ashes; these caves are now closed up. John Hill found on his farm ancient plough irons of strange construction. There was in this farm a mound or fort, on the top of which was a pavement, 5 feet long and 2 feet broad, covered by about two feet depth of soil. In 1835 Francis Todd discovered beneath the surface of a small hill, "a vault of the size and shape of a tea-chest the top of which was covered by a large flag; in the vault was an ornamented earthen urn in which were bones and ashes. There was also found in it a book about the size of a small bible; it was bound and had on the back gilt letters He took the book from the urn and attempted to examine it but it fell into dust, and the urn and bones also mouldered down when exposed to the air. " - See Ord. Surv. MS.
In the townland of Turraloskin was an old cemetery, called Kilnacrue, where were the ruins of a small chapel, and, about 7 yards from them, a stone 5 1/2 feet high, called the Priest's Stone, which bore the figure of a cross. Reeve's Eccl. Antiq. p. 386. Cill-na-cru-" horse-shoe church or graveyard," was so named from the shape of its cemetery which contained about a rood of ground and was surrounded by a broad wall of dry stones. It is in the farm of Samuel Hill, and is situated in a valley, about a furlong north-west of the old road from Ballycastle to Ballymony. The stone on which the cross is incised is to the south of the site of the church. The cross is incised about half an inch deep on the south-west side of the stone and is 3 feet long and 13 inches across the shoulders. At the foot of the cross stood some stone construction beneath which were found five oval shaped stone.each about the size of a large egg and quartered on the surface like the petrified sea-urchins. Between the church and the cross stood the supposed ruins of three altars, each about one yard square on the top. On the north-east side of the cross were the remains of several small houses in which were paved hearths and ashes. About 50 yards south of the cross is the Kille Well to which is ascribed the virtue of stopping vomiting and of curing several other diseases "This well flitted 50 yards from its original site, about 80 years ago, in consequence of a woman having washed her feet in it." About 30 yards west of the cross is one of the usual artificial caves but it is at present closed. The farmer who destroyed these ancient erections placed the cross over a ford but was afterwards obliged to re-erect it on its old site. "He and his family express much regret for having meddled with the old graveyard for he is the principal sufferer having sustained many losses and being tormented with bodily pains Informants - Samuel Hill, Robert Thompson, Adam Boal and others." - Ord. Surv. MS., written A.D. 1838.
In Moyargat Upper there is, in the farm of Andrew Sharpe, a cave, said to be about 40 yards in length, consisting of several apartments connected with the usual pipe-like passages; the walls and roof are the natural rock but the connecting passages are built with sandstone. A well within the entrance of this cave supplies the neighbouring village with water. In Moyargat Lower is a remarkable well named Falkeel Well; in this townland there is a cave more than 120 yards in length divided into sundry rooms, each from 3 to 5 feet high and 4 feet wide; its walls are built with field stones. In it were found five hearths on which were ashes; it must therefore have been occupied during some temporary dangerous time by a large number of people. There is an artificial cave in the townland of Cape Castle containing several apartments but it is at present (1838) closed up; it is in the farm of Samuel Purdon. A beautifully carved, two handled, square meather, each side of which was at the mouth 5 1/2 inches and at the bottom 4 1/2 inches broad, and in depth 9 inches, was found in 1835 about two feet under the surface of a bog in this townland; it is at present (1838) in the house of James Montgomery, of Cloughanmurray. It is difficult to discover the origin of the name Cape Castle. It may be named from a block of stone ("Ceap," a Standing Stone) near the boundary of the townland and a castle 700 feet distant; both of which are in Cloughanmurray. The Standing Stone is a grey stone standing above the ground 6 feet 10 inches high, 4 feet broad at the base and 1 foot at the top, and varies from 1 foot to 1 1/2 feet in thickness; it is said that the larger part of it is beneath the ground. Near this stone formerly stood a similar stone, which was carried away many years ago. The castle was named Cloghduinmurray; it was erected on a mound and seems to have been extensive, but its foundations were never fully explored; the ascent to it seems to have been by steps from the east side. One of the sides of the castle, which was about twenty feet high, was thrown down by a great storm in the year 1797. On the west side stood several ancient houses; the whole was formerly almost surrounded by a morass. In Daniel Todd's farm there is a cave of considerable extent but it is now closed up; in a small hill over the cave was found, in 1831, a compartment, 6 feet long, 2 feet deep and 2 feet broad, enclosed by flat stones, it was filled with rich black earth. In the farm of Peter Sharpe, in Toberbilly, was a square fort, 12 yards by 12 yard; enclosed by a parapet of earth and stones but now (1838) much disfigured About 50 yards south-east of it, on the summit of a small hill was another fort nearly circular, 16 yards in diameter, but its parapet is completely destroyed. Close to these sunk on their ends in the ground, but the purpose for which they were so placed cannot be conjectured. These remnants of the past are situated south of, and close to the road from Ballycastle to Armoy. "The Standing Stone" in Ballylig is situated on a high ground; it is 6 feet 4 inches high, 3 feet broad, and 2 feet thick. On a small hill in the farm of Daniel McIntyre, in Drumans, is a Standing Stone 5 1/2 feet high and 6 feet thick, Within a few feet of it is a cave of the usual construction, a portion of which has been destroyed and the remainder closed up. - See Ord. Surv. MS.
John Boyd, in 1830, found in his farm in Broommore an earthen cinerary urn ; and again, in November, 1838, he found another in the same place. Several similar urns had been previously found in that place; the mouth of each urn was covered with a fiat stone. Hugh Mullan, about 1830, when labouring land that had not been previously tilled, found a horn containing silver coins; he also found large brooches and amber beads of large size and of various shapes. At about half-a-mile north of Knocklayd there is, on a lofty hill in the farm of Robert Clowey, a circular earthen fort; it is 15 yards in diameter on the top which is from 6 to 10 feet above the bottom of the moat; the latter averages 14 feet in width. A cave leading in a southern direction from the fort has been discovered about 30 yards from its base. The principal fort, however, in Broommore is on a lofty eminence in the farm of Charles Boyd, 310 feet above the level of the sea. It was of circular form, 30 yards in diameter on the top. Its summit rose from 10 to 15 feet above the surface of the hill on which it is situated; within the area was a raised platform composed of earth and stones. The fort had within its earthworks an extensive cave, but it is now completely disfigured by excavations to obtain the stones used in the construction of the cave.5 At the base of the fort on the north west side is a stone 3 1/2 feet high, 2 1/2 feet broad, and 1 1/2 feet thick. - See ord. Surv. MS.
In the farm of John McIlmoyle, in Ballydurnian, there was a little graveyard locally named "the Kille;" it contained a rood of ground and was enclosed by a fence of stone and clay but it is now "reclaimed," except a small portion occupied by a cairn of stones. Interments in this graveyard were discontinued about the year 1760. The site is in a valley south of, and close to, the Ballycastle and Armoy Road. In Broombeg there is, in the farm of John McClarty, a Standing Stone 4 feet high, 4 1/2 feet broad, and 1 foot thick. In the same mountain grazing is another monumental stone, now sloping to the N.W., it is 6 1/2 feet -long, 4 1/2 feet broad, and 2 feet thick. In the mountain grazing of James Waters are the remains of a "Giant's grave" enclosed by stones standing from 1 to 3 feet above the surface; it stands nearly north and south and is in the inside 9 feet long and 2 feet broad. On a hill in the same farm are the ruins of an ancient house, standing east and west, supposed to have been a church; it measures in the interior 30 by 20 feet; the walls are from 3 to 5 feet high and built of earth and large stones. In Loughlin M'Curdy's farm is a whinstone slab 4 feet long, 2 1/2 feet broad, and 1 foot thick, on which is incised, about a quarter of an inch deep, a beautiful cross, the perpendicular line of which is 9 inches long, and the horizontal line 6 inches. The slab is at present lying but it formerly was standing. - See Ord. Surv. MS.
There is a cave of considerable extent and constructed in the usual manner in the farm of D. Fullerton, in Drumawillin. The former Protestant Church occupied the site of the ancient church of Ramoan. The foundation of this church by St. Patrick is recorded in the Irish Tripartite Life - "He founded Rathmudhain and left the priest Erclach in it." The festival of St. Erclach was held on the 3rd of March but unfortunately nothing more is known of his history. Colgan states that the present name is a corruption of Rath Modhain-the fort of Muadain - but the present pronunciation moan fairly represents Muadhan, who, Colgan thinks, was Muadhan the father of Enan the founder and patron saint of Druim-indich in the vicinity. If this church was originally built within a rath all traces of the rath have disappeared. The Taxation of Pope Nicholas values "the church of Rathmohan" at £10. The Terrier enters "Ecclesia de Rathmoan hath 20 acres of Glebe; it pays Proxes 20s,, Refections 20s., Synodals 2s. The Ulster Visitation Book reports in 1622"-" Ecclesia de Ramoan decayed." The ancient church was pulled down previous to the erection, in 1812, of the late Protestant church; the walls were, it is said, 3 feet in thickness and it was longer than the Protestant church which afterwards was erected on the site. A chalice was found in the church and a freestone font of large size. On the outside of the south sidewall of the ancient church was a freestone slab, on which was engraved a cross. Ramoan Well was about 3 furlongs north of the church. Stations used to be made at it but they ceased about 1820 and the well was subsequently closed up.
Human remains and other indications of a cemetery were found on the south side of the main street of Ballycastle in the premises which, in 1838, were the property of Hugh Jolly, but if a church ever occupied the site nothing is known of its history. Among the earliest records we have of Ballycastle are the accounts of the great defeat which Shane O'Neill there gave to the Scots in 1565. In these accounts the place is named Nyw Castell and Baile-Caislein from a new castle erected, perhaps on the site of some ancient Celtic dun; or perhaps the castle was called new, in comparison with the older fortress of Dunanyie. Of this battle we have accounts both in the State Papers and in the native annals. A letter written to the Lord Justice by Shane O'Neill "from the town of Somhairle (Sorley Boy), called Baile Caislein," and another written by his secretary, "Gerot Flemynge," to Sir Thomas Cusake, tell the entire story, that O'Neill first encountered the Scots at the pass of Knockboy near Broughshane, camped that night at Clough, and on the following day marched for Red Bay, the castle of which he took and burned. It continues :-
On that night James M 'Donnell accompanied by his brothers and all their forces arrived in Ireland. He entered the neighbouring harbour (Cushendun) with a large fleet of galleys, and immediately he and Somhairle united their Irish and Scottish forces. We advanced on the day following without opposition to the town of Somhairle, which is named Baile Caishlein and remained there all night in camp, as there was no time to attack them that evening. Early next morning we advanced upon them, drawn up in battle array and the fight was furiously maintained on both sides. But God, best and greatest, of his mere grace, and for the welfare of Her Majesty the Queen, gave us the victory. James and his brother Somhairle were taken prisoner; and a third brother Angus, surnamed the "Contentious," and John Roe 6were slain, together with two Scottish chiefs, namely the son of MacLeod and the son of the Lord of Carrig-na-Skiath. A young chief of Isla was slain, whose father was brother to James aforesaid. The sons of Alexander Carrach and the sons of Alexander Gallta, besides many of the Scottish nobility were captured, great numbers of their men killed, amounting in all to six or seven hundred. Few escaped who were not taken or slain.
Shane O'Neill's letter was written while his hand was still red with the blood of the Scots, but Fleming's, written some days afterwards tells that his master : -
"Killed of the Skotts at that present tyme to the nomber of vii. hondreth that they can make compte of. After which conflicte O'Nele campid that night at Nyw Castell foresaid, where the said James McConill (M'Donnell), being prisoner, offrid O'Nele all the goodes, cattels, creaths (herds of cattle), stoodes (horses) and lande that he had in Irelande and Scotland and to sett himself at liberty, affirming by othe that he would never seeke to revenge the same, whose answere was, that the service he went aboute was not his but the prince's, and that it lay not in himself to doe anything but according to her direction. In the morning after he removed thence and came to Downesrick (Dunseverick)."
The Annals of Lough Cé record this battle as "the victory of Glenn-Sheisg by O'Neill." The Four Masters under the year 1565 enter:-
"A great defeat was given by O'Neill (John, the son of Con, son of Con, son of Henry) to the sons of MacDonnell of Scotland, namely, James, Aengus and Sorley. Aengus was slain, and James was wounded and taken prisoner and he died of the virulence of his wounds at the end of a year. The death of this gentleman was generally bewailed; he was a paragon of hospitality and prowess, a festive man of many troops, and a bountiful and munificent man. And his peer was not at that time among the Clann-Donnell in Ireand or Scotland; and his people would not have deemed it too much to give his weight in gold for his ransom, if he could have been ransomed. Many others were slain in this defeat of Glenn-taisi."
There is a difficulty about the precise site of this battle. The Annals of Lough Cé say it occurred in Glenshesk, and Mr. Hennessy, in a note to his translation of those Annals, says that the Four Masters incorrectly write it Glenn-taisi ; but Mr. Hill, who is a native of the vicinity, remarks that it must have been in the glen on the west side of Knock-layd, through which the Tow river flows. Fleming says that O'Neill camped in Ballycastle, "having his enymies withen a mile in sight camping before him," and that at 5 o'clock next morning he attacked them. Mr. Hill says - " If the Scots had encamped in Glenshesk it is not easily understood how the O'Neills could have reached Ballycastle without a collision. But if the Scots moved forward and encamped at the foot of Glentaisi, or Glen-tow, they were thus removed to a considerable distance from the line of O'Neill's march." The glen through which the Tow flows has at present no name, and Mr. Hill supposes that the name of that river is a modern form of Taise. The place, however, where "John Roe,1' who was slain in the pursuit, is said to have fallen, is in Glenshesk, on the east side of Knock-layd. If Mr. Hill's supposition be correct, Glentaise is named from the lady Taise " of the Fair Side," and the fortress there built for her, was probably the great fort in Broommore.
After the McDonnells had become masters, through the patent of James I., of the entire North of Antrim, one of their earliest grants conveyed the lands constituting the Ballycastle estate to Hugh MacNeill. That grant is dated on the 9th of November 1612, and reserves to Sir Randal McDonnell and his wife, lady Alice O'Neill, the right of residence, should they wish it, at either or both of the villages of Dunynie and Ballycashan, (Baile Cashlein). They availed themselves of this privilege some years afterwards, and erected a castle on the site of the former castle, which had given name to Ballycastle.
The Ordnance MS. states that in 1838, there was, over a back-door in the house of Mrs. Blair, on the south side of Main Street, a date stone, which had been taken from the ruins of the castle. On that was an inscription in raised letters, but the only portion of it that could be read was WRKGS. 1625, which was probably the date at which the Earl erected the new castle. He died in Dunluce in 1636, and his countess, the lady Alice O'Neill, with their two daughters removed to the new Castle at Ballycastle. Here she resided, enjoying the rents of her extensive jointure lands, until the year 1642, when she suddenly found herself in the very centre of the bloody deeds, which were committed by both parties, at that period of the great rebellion. The Cromwellians hungered for her jointure lands, and accused her of conniving at, and encouraging dreadful murders, alleged to have been committed at her own gates in Ballycastle. Mr. Hill with his usual impartiality vindicates her character; he says-" A party of the Irish, after the battle of the Laney, went to Ballycastle and took possession of her house, but, as they did not turn her out, and as they prevented some Protestants from taking shelter therein, it was supposed that she had connived with the Irish. This charge was not sustained by any witnesses, and it was rebutted by her own statement, and by the sworn depositions of Henry O'Hagan, Esq., a gentleman who was present in the castle at the time. Any suspicions of connivance on her part vanish when we come to know the motives which actuated her enemies. Without a knowledge of the times, however, one might be led to judge harshly of the Countess, as we once did, giving expression to our suspicions in a tract entitled The Stewarts of Ballintoy, but which expression we now freely retract." MacDonnells, p. 357. The following is O'Hagan's affidavit. (MS. T. C. D.):-
"The examination of Edmund O'Hagan, of Ballycastle, in the parish of Ramoane, in the county of Antrim, Gent., taken before us at Coleraine, 12th March, 1652.
Whoe being duely examined, saith that he was the Countess of Antrim's waiting man for many years, and lived at Ballycastell with her ladyship. That the day after the murder of the British at Portnaw, to this Examinants best remembrance, William Glover, James Stewart, and Thomas Stewart, with some ten Scotchmen, of the town of B. Castell, came unto the gate of the castel, that James McHenry, Esq., who since was killed at Ennis, as he hath heard, mett with the said William Glover without the gate, where they were talking together, this Examinant being present, but not so neare as to heare what they said; that James Stewart and Thomas Stewart went in at the wickett of the gate, the Broad gate being shut, as, it was accustomed to be, and William Glover and the rest of the Scotch staid without. That soon after the said James Stewart and Thomas Stewart were entered into the castel, the said James McHenry went in at the gate and this Examinant followed him; that as soon as they were gone in they found the Porter of the gate and the said James Stewart and Thomas Stewart quarreling, and the two Stewart's swords were drawne, upon which the said James McHenry and Donnell Grome McDonnell (since likewise killed) with the men which he had in the castel to keep the castel (for his own or what end he knows not) disarmed the said James Stewart and Thomas Stewart, and being demanded upon what ground the said two Stewarts drew their swords after they were within the castel gate, he says he believes it was to force the Porter to open the gate and make way for William Glover and the Scots without the gate to come in. That soon after the two Stewarts having their swords restored to them went out of the castell. And the Examinant being demanded if any of the British came after into the castel for safety of their lives, he saith that all who came thither were received in and their lives saved. And being demanded who those were, he saith John Murghlan, a smith; John Hunter, a carpenter; John Kidd, a mason; Alester Begg Stewart, afterwards the said Countesses Monlterer, and some other men and women whose names he doth not remember. That he did not see or know of any murdered at Ballycastle but one Jennett Speir, who was killed on the backside of the said Countesses stable, neare the castel, but by whom he knows not. That Allester McColl McDonnell and James McHenry came to visit the Countess at Ballycastell, after the murder at Portnaw and in the Layney, soe often as they pleased, and that this Examinant sometimes did see them and others there, and further he saith not.
H. Coote, Richard Brazier."
The castle was seized by Scotch troops and afterwards held by the Cromwellians. The old Countess returned to the neighbourhood after the Restoration. One of her letters written from Bunamargie is dated May 1661, and in another written in the same month, she prays her "Dear Cousin, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Stewart, now in Dublin," - " I hope you will strive to get my old dwelling, Ballycastle, to me again." The castle, however, had been too long occupied by soldiers to be ever re-occupied as a mansion. The eastern gable remained until about 1848, when it was removed by an order from the Court of Chancery lest its fall might occasion loss of life. After the wars of 1641 Ballycastle was almost entirely deserted. In 1699, the tenements of the town, occupied only an extent of three acres. In 1722 the village and the demesne connected with the castle were re-let to James MacCarroll for £22 12s, His proposal to Lord Antrim is as follows :-
"The standing rentt of the above town and Demens pay yearly, as will appear by the Rent Rowle and the persons names whom the Rentts are paid by - £16 12s. I propose the above-mentioned Rentt and Six Pounds advancitt yearly, which amounts to in all Twentv. two Pounds twelf shillings, with undenayable security for the Rentt and ffees; proposed by me This the 9th August, 1722. James MacCarroll."
From a population return of the parish of Ramoan in the year 1734 it appears the householders of Ballycastle numbered sixty two, of whom sixteen were Catholics, thirty-two Episcopalians, and fourteen Presbyterians.
The Catholic families were O'Raliff, McAlinden, Matthews, O'Mooney, McAlister, Chism, O'Mullan, Shannon, McConnell, McCormick, O'Mullan, McCarroll, O'Hegarty, Murphy, O'Donaghy, Kelly.
At that date Portbretts, now the Quay, had only four householders - John McAuley, a Catholic; and John Boyd, Archibald Boyd, and Robt. Bear, Episcopa1ians.- From a newspaper cutting; written probably by Rev. G. Hill
Ballycastle owes the great progress which it made in the middle of the last century to the untiring industry and enterprise of Hugh Boyd. This gentleman was the son of Hugh Boyd, rector of Ramoan, and Rose McNeill, the heiress of the grant made in 1612 by Sir Randal McDonnell to Hugh MacNeill, constable and gentleman of Dinynie Castle. The names of the several lands recited in that grant are-" The townland of Ballrentinny, the quarterlands of Brumemore and Liscallen, the quarterlands of Drumnacree, Ballyvarnyne5 Drumand, Ballyenige; the forty acres of Clancashan (Ballycastle), the five acres of Craigmore and the five acres of Portbretts (the Quay), together with the constableship and keeping of the market towns or villages of Dunynie and Ballycashin.7 For this, Hugh MacNeill stipulated to pay "nyne pounds" rent yearly and a fair proportion of the rent payable to the King out of Route and Glynns, and to appear at every general Hosting with men and arms in proportion to the extent of his lands. He was to do suit and service at the Courts Leet and Courts Baron on the landlord's estates and grind his corn at the landlord's mills.8 These lands passed by inheritance to the great grandson of the original grantee who was also named Hugh MacNeill. This gentleman had two children, a son and a daughter; the son did not inherit. One account states that he died before coming of age, and another that he was of unsound mind. The daughter, Rose McNeill married Hugh Boyd, rector of Ramoan, and was succeeded by her son, Hugh Boyd. He obtained in 1734 a lease of the collieries, and in 1736 he obtained a deed of the village of Ballycastle. In a short time he changed the village into a prosperous town, having manufactories of salt and soap, iron-works, weaving and bleaching establishments, tan-yards, a glass house and brewery. The great works, however, of his life were the collieries and the erection of Ballycastle harbour. A little inlet, at which the Rathlin mail-boat yet lands, was from the earliest age a somewhat important harbour. This was named Port Brittas - perhaps "the British Port "-because it was the port whence the Dalriadans sailed for Britain when they colonized Scotland. In 1612 it was considered so important that Sir Randal, in granting it to Hugh MacNeill, reserved the Custom duty on "wynne, oill, and aquavitae," brought into Portbretts. It was, no doubt, a miserable harbour, and in 1584 Wallop bitterly complains to the treasurer-at-war of "the iniquity of Marketon Bay," where they had to land their victuals on a raft. The original winding course of the river Mairge was changed, and, instead of falling into the bay at where the Outer Dock was afterwards constructed, the united waters of the Mairge and the Tow river; were made to flow through the Inner Dock. Aided by the Irish Parliament, to the amount of £23,000, Mr. Boyd constructed piers in the creek, with the view of facilitating the export of coal for the supply of Dublin. At the time of his death in 1765 the town had twenty vessels actively employed in trade, but from that period the harbour was permitted to fall rapidly to decay. The violence of the tides overthrew the piers and the harbour was choked with drifted sands. The provisions in his will for the supply of coal to the glass-works and for dredging the docks were utterly neglected, and everything about the quay has gradually returned to its primitive state, except the Mairge river which even yet is artificially compelled to deposit its sand in the still water of the Inner Harbour, as if for the purpose, at no distant day, of obliterating the works of him who changed its course.
On an eminence about a quarter of a mile east of the town of Ballycastle is the rath of Dunnamallachd - " the fort of the curse "-an earthen mound which seems originally to have been circular, about 11 yards in diameter on the top, and rising from 10 to 30 feet above the surface of the ground on which it stands. The fine old mound was much injured by Hugh Boyd, Esq., M.P., who erected on its summit a "Tea House" which has long since disappeared. Dunrainey fort, situated about 120 yards south-west of the monastery of Bunnamargy, has been in the civil parish of Culfeightrin since the course of the Shesk was changed, but as the ancient boundaries are still observed in the Catholic arrangement, the fort is in the Catholic parish of Ramoan, because the river which was the boundary formerly flowed on the east side of it and even passed through a part of the present graveyard. Dunrainey seems to have been originally circular, about 30 yards in diameter on the top, which was from 20 to 30 feet above the level of the field; but a great part of it, particularly towards the north-east, was carted away about the year 1810 by Samuel H. Reid, who occupied the farm in which it is situated. It was from this fort, it is said, the Irish and Scotch discharged the fiery arrows into the thatch of the monastery, and burned that building, in the reign of Elizabeth, when it was occupied by an English garrison.
In the farm of Robert Stewart in Drumavoley, there was an ancient graveyard named Killalonan, which is now completely removed and its site under roads and tillage; great quantities of human bones and rude headstones have been removed from the site. Two Holy-water fonts well executed in freestone, the bowl of each of which was about 10 inches in diameter, and 7 inches in depth, were found among the graves; they were used by the finder for feeding pigs, and perished in that ignoble use. Here were also found under a flat stone two ancient keys of strange construction; there were also found some quern-stones, and silver and copper coins. The site of the church is about half a mile south-west of Bunnamargy church. Close to this site is a cave of the usual construction, but its extent has not been investigated; several "Danes' Pipes" were found in it. A monument, consisting of a stone 6 feet long, 3 feet broad, and 3 feet thick, raised about 1 foot above the ground on several other smaller stone; is in a rocky eminence, called Cregagh, in the farm of Richard McGaula, about one statute mile from Ballycastle; within a few feet of it is a similar stone but without supporters. Near these are the ruins of some building, 19 feet long and 8 feet broad in the inside, divided into two apartments; the walls, of earth and large stone; are from 1 to 3 feet high, and from 3 to 5 feet broad To the west of the stones and the ruined building is an enclosure, 28 yards long and 18 yards broad, the fence of which was composed chiefly of large stones sunk closely together on their ends in the ground, and varying in height from 1 to 5 feet. The dilapidation, the growth of bog, whins, and heather, make it difficult to say what was the original shape or design of this group of remains. - See Ord. Sur. MS.
On a hill in the farm of Hector McNeill, in Kilcreg, stand the ruins of a fort that was 40 yards in diameter, but it is now completely disfigured. There was an artificial cave under it, in which were found "Danes' Pipes" lettered on the shanks The ancient graveyard called "Killcraig," which gives name to the towniand, stands on a rocky eminence in the farm of Daniel McBride; it contained about a quarter of a rood of ground, and was enclosed by a fence of stones and clay, but it is now overgrown with whins. In various parts of the mountain farms- in Kilcreg, Broombeg and Ballydurnian are small enclosures, structures named "Danes' Houses," and Cairns but all so overgrown with moss and whins that their original use can only be conjectured. - See Ord. Sur. MS.
In the farm of Hugh Laverty, in Drummeeny, about one mile south-west of Bunnamargy, are the remains of an ancient graveyard named Kill-Enan, situated on a gentle eminence a little west of the River Shesk. It contained about half an acre and was enclosed by a broad fence of stone and clay. The principal part of the graveyard was occupied by stone-lined graves. Near its centre stood the remains of a church which measured externally 30 by 21 feet. The walls were built with well shaped stones, but apparently without lime; portions of them, from 1 to 4 feet high, yet (A.D. 1838) remain, but are overgrown with nettles and brambles. At the east end of the church is an altar, a flat freestone flag, about 5 feet long and 2 feet wide, supported about 4 feet high on a number of freestone slabs. Many of the old grave stones had crosses engraved on them, but the graveyard is now under tillage and nothing remains but the walls of the church ; in them lies a font stone of mountain freestone, 2 feet 8 inches long, 1 1/2 feet broad, and 9 inches thick the basin, hollowed in this, is an oval of 16 by 11 inches, and 4 inches in depth.
About 60 yards south-east of the graveyard stood a circular earthen mound, but it is now (1838) nearly destroyed. On the top of a small hill, about 100 yards south west of the graveyard, was found a vault (kistvaen) above 3 feet long and 2 feet broad and 2 feet deep, containing charcoal and a small earthen urn. Near the graveyard on the north-west side are the ruins of an ancient bridge that accommodated a paved road, leading in a south-western direction from the graveyard to another paved road that formerly led along Glenshesk hills from Ballycastle to Ballymena.9 The bridge was 10 feet wide, and constructed of flat stones fastened in the ground on each side of the river and notched together over the centre of the stream. In the graveyard were found amber beads and the head of a metal statue. Aeneas Laverty has an ancient stone mallet, which he found in the stream near Kill-Enan. It is artificially constructed of whin-stone; the head is 6 1/2 inches long, 4 inches broad, and 3 1/2 inches thick; the handle protrudes from the head at about two-thirds its length, and is 6 inches in circumference at the juncture with the head, and 4 1/2 inches.in length. There was also found a rasp made of the same kind of stone, and cut on the face in the same manner as the steel rasps used by smiths. Near the old church was found in 1833 a circular stone box, well constructed, 6 inches in depth, and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. - From Ord. Surv. MS.
On a beautiful eminence in John Thompson's farm, about 150 yards north-west of Kill-Enan Church, are the ruins of another church locally called Cloughneeingoban - " the castle of the daughter of Goban," - said to have been erected for nuns by the daughter of Goban Saer. The church measures in the inside 28 feet 8 inches by 15 feet 2 inches; the walls are from 4 to 10 feet high and 3 feet thick, of whinstone, well faced with quorns of freestone and grouted with mortar of a superior quality. The west gable is nearly destroyed, and the other walls are reduced to skeletons by the removal, during the last 70 years, of the well-faced stones. The door was in the western gable; a narrow window was in the eastern gable, and it is supposed there was a window in each of the north and south sidewalls, near the eastern end. About 80 yards north of the church are the ruins of some ancient enclosure like a Giant's Grave, 40 feet by 40 feet, divided into compartments, some resembling graves and enclosed by large stones sunk on their ends; but the whole structure is reduced to complete confusion by the removal of many of the stones and by the construction of a fence through nearly its centre. About 10 yards distant from the east of the church was an earthen mound, of which very little now remains. Between the church and the mound there was the commencement of a very extensive cave nearly central between the two churches. The first compartment, which extended 27 feet southward, has been destroyed about 1830. At its southern extremity there was found one of the narrow passages usual in caves, which, when discovered, was closed by a flat stone. This passage led to an apartment on a lower level, which extended eastward and was connected at its eastern extremity with another running southward. The three compartments of the cave were each, including the low and narrow connecting passage, 27 1/2 feet in length; but the apartment itself was in each case about 23 1/2 feet long, 6 feet high and 4 feet broad; the walls were built of dry stones and roofed with flagstones, generally of freestone, about 5 feet long. In the compartment running north and south, which still remains, there is a roofing flag, at the entrance to the compartment running westward, of freestone, 5 1/2 feet long and 2 1/2 feet broad, and 1 foot thick. On the under surface (that visible from inside of the cave) is inscribed a Latin cross, formed by double incised lines; the length of the cross is 2 1/2 feet, and the breadth across the arms is 17 inches. All the particulars of the churches and other remnants of antiquity in this remarkable place are taken from the Ordnance Memoir MS., written in 1838 by Thomas Fagan. Dr. Reeves was informed by the tenant of the ground that there were in the cave "two stones, one with a crucifix carved on it and another with a cross." There certainly was only one cross but it was carved in double lines; there is used as a flagstone, in McCaughan's house adjoining, a slab on which is rudely inscribed a cross, but it is the stone which Hugh Laverty found in the disused graveyard.
This interesting spot seems to have been an important place in Pagan times, hence its mounds, funereal urns, and rude stone monuments; but Kill-Enan perpetuates the important success of St. Patrick, when he converted the local chieftain Muadan and directed that toparch's son, Enan, to build a church amid the most sacred monuments of local paganism. The foundation of the church is told in the following passage translated from the Tripartite Life as given by Colgan - " Moreover, in the region of Cathrigia (Cary) he founded the church of Domnach Coinri where he placed the two Connennans, his disciples. Also the church of Druim-lndich (Drumeeny) where he placed St. Enan; and Cuil-Ectrann (Culfeightrin) over which he placed Fiachrius as bishop." In the Trios Thaum, p. 182, Colgan has the following note :-" St. Enan seems to be the son of Modain, who is commemorated on the 24th of March, since Rath-Modain (Ramoan), so called perhaps from his father - that is Modain's Fort - is in the same region." He is styled in the Calendar of Marianus O'Gorman - " Enanus egregius, diuturnae quietis, et Muadani filius." Of the remaining history of St. Enan we know nothing; Colgan conjectures that he may be a St. Enan, who flourished under St. Comgall, which is impossible. We will again meet the name when treating of Ardclinis. It is by no means certain that the townland Drumeeny - Druim Indech, is named from St. Enan; it is not improbable that it was named from an Aenach, an assembly, fair, or public games, which like the great games of Greece were held by the Irish at some funereal mound. There can, however, be no doubt that Kil-Enan is named from St. Enan the disciple of St. Patrick; and it may be supposed, that, when it became dilapidated, the church formerly called Cloughneeingoban and lately Gobbin's Heir Castle was substituted for it. Dr. Reeves's antiquarian knowledge enabled him at once to see that the term Castle was a complete perversion, as every feature of the spot is indicative of an ecclesiastical character, and to point out that Goblin's Heir is a corruption of Goban Saer (Goban Saor, 'Goban, the Artificer') the title of the celebrated architect, to whose skill the traditions of the country ascribe the erection of so many churches and round towers. The superiority of the masonry of this church was obviously the reason why popular belief ascribed it to the Goban Saer When Mr. George Langtry visited the ruins in August, 1870 (see Kilk. Journ. 1870-1), he found the north wall removed to within two feet of the ground and the eastern gable gone except a fragment of three feet at each end. The cave, whether constructed before the days of St. Patrick or not, was obviously used by the ecclesiastics when danger threatened. A deer's skull, with a portion of the horns attached to it; and some bones of other animals were found in the cave when it was discovered.
There is, in the farm of Charles McComb, in the townland of Ballyveely, a little valley running down to the river Shesk, called Bealnafaula (Beul-na-fola-" the mouth, or pass of blood,") so named because it was the scene, it is said, of a great battle between the McDonnells and McQuillins, in which the latter were defeated after great slaughter on both sides. It is likely that the battle fought in this glen, which occurred probably ages before the advent of either McQuillins or McDonnells to Glenshesk, gave name to Ballyveely (Baile fhola"the town of blood,") and to Coolaveely-" the corner of blood," on the opposite side of the Shesk. In the same farm was a cairn of stones locally called "The Giant's Grave," which seems to have been circular, 8 yards in diameter, and enclosed by standing stones but at present it is reduced nearly to the level of the field and overgrown with scrog-wood. On an eminence, 60 yards west of the cairn, stands a monument consisting of three very large stones rising from 3 to 6 feet above the surface of the interior which is nearly square, 4 1/2 feet by 4 feet; it was formerly covered, probably by one or more stones like "The Stone House," in Tycloy, parish of Skerry (see vol. iii. p. 449.) Two of the stones which form the side-walls are so arranged as to form a door facing the east, 2 1/2 feet at the top and 1 1/2 feet at the base. Close to this are several caves said to be extensive but they are closed at present. There are also near it the ruins of ancient stone fences, of great thickness, composed chiefly of stones of great size. About 80 yards north-west of the Cairn, or " Giant's Grave," there formerly stood on the summit of a rocky height a Standing Stone 5 feet high, which has been taken down several years ago. On a lofty eminence, in the farm of Andrew Neill, on Ballyveely Mountain, about half-a-mile north-east of Knock-laid, stand the ruins of a cairn locally called the Gallows Hill. The cairn was an oval of 25 by 21 feet and its summit was about 5 feet higher than the surrounding ground. Beneath the cairn was a chamber or cave; passing east and west, walled by dry stone work and roofed with long flat stones; it was 20 feet long, 3 feet wide, and nearly 2 feet high in the inside. This chamber or passage is now (1838) nearly destroyed by the removal of the large stones for building purposes. There seem to have been other chambers under the cairn. It occupied nearly the centre of a circular enclosure 40 yards in diameter; but the moat and parapet are now reduced to a mere ruin. It is said that the hill had been a few hundred years ago used as the place of execution for the culprits of the four neighbouring parishes. About 2 furlongs north-east of the Gallows Hill is a small hill apparently artificially raised by earth and stones, at the east side of which is what is called a "Druid's Altar." It is a block of stone 4 feet long, 3 feet broad and 2 feet thick raised about a foot on a number of smaller stones. Several other large stones show themselves a little above the surface near the "Altar." The hill seems to contain subterranean chambers but it has never been explored. - See Ord. Surv. MS. This seems to he a partially ruined sepulchral cairn.
Tradition asserts that there was an ancient burying-ground in Kilrobert but no traces of it can at present be discovered. About a furlong west of the leading road that passes through this townland there is in the farm of Michael McMullan a Standing Stone 6 1/2 feet high, 3 feet broad and 1 1/4 feet thick, called Cloughberragh; a number of similar Standing Stones formerly stood near it but they have been from time to time removed. About 2 furlongs south of Cloghberragh, in the farm of Edward Reilly, stands another stone 4 1/2 feet above the surface, 3 feet 10 inches broad and 9 inches thick; this stone is in the fence of a lane. There is in the farm a cave which was discovered in 1826 but it is now closed. Neal McMullan in reclaiming some ground discovered, in 1818, a gold gorget quite thin and ornamented round the edge; he sold it in Belfast for £8. There is in the farm of James McCaula a cave said to he of considerable extent but it is now closed up. - See Ord. Surv. MS.
In Aghaleck (Achadh-leice)-" field of the flag-stone," about 30 yards west of the road, is a Standing Stone of sandstone, 4 feet broad and 1 1/2 feet thick; it is named Capann-ir-vor-" the giant's cap." Ten yards west of it is another large stone sunk in the ground, and 13 yards south-west of it is a Standing Stone now sloping to the south-east, it is 5 1/2 feet long, 3 feet broad and 2 feet thick. These stones seem to have formed part of some ancient monument now disfigured. There is a cave in the farm of Bryan Keenan 21 feet long, 4 feet high, and 4 feet wide, but at present closed. John White found in a bog in this townland a bronze flat celt, 6 inches long and 3 1/4 inches broad at the edge. - See Ord Surv. MS.
In a bog a little north-west of the church of Glenshesk, in the townland of Corvally, is a Standing Stone of triangular shape 5 1/2 feet high, 1 foot 9 inches broad on one side and 1 1/2 feet on each of the other two sides ; twelve feet south-east of it is another that rises 2 1/2 feet above the surface; and twenty-seven feet north-east of the large stone stands a third.10 They are said to mark the spot where were interred the remains of James Anderson who was murdered for betraying the McQuillans to the McDonnells. About 120 yards south-west of these stones stands a similar stone. In this townland there are along the base of Knock-layd, the foundations of several very small ancient houses - called "Danes' Houses;" the walls are very broad and built of large stones and clay. In the farm of John Boyd there is the site of an ancient graveyard called Killephaul. The graves are stone-lined and sunk about two feet beneath the surface. In a portion of the site three earthen urns, filled with calcined bones and ashes, were found. Here are two caves of the usual construction; in one of them, situated a few perches from the graveyard, ornamented earthen urns containing bones and ashes were found some years before 1838. - See Ord. Surv. MS.
There is lying in a bog in Doonfin a stone column 8 feet long, from 1 to 2 feet broad, and 1 foot 8 inches thick; it is supposed to have once been a monumental stone, for near its base was found a pavement of stones such as frequently is found around the base of such stones. It is a little north-west of the public road. On a lofty hill overhanging the river Shesk is the fort of Doonfin rising from 3 to 8 feet above the surrounding ground. Its summit is an oval, measuring 15 by 10 yards, and commanding a beautiful prospect of the adjacent glens, hills and mountains.
Doonfin is associated in all the local legendary tales with Fionn MacCumbail (Finn MacCool). It was here, it is said, he slew his favourite hound, Bran. The ferocious animal, excited by a weary and unsuccessful chase, was rushing back ready to destroy his master and thousands besides, when the aged warrior hurled his unerring dart and Bran rolled in the contortions of death into the Shesk. Fionn never afterwards prosecuted the chase but he solaced his sorrows by composing on Doonfin beautiful lamentations for Bran which are yet (1838) repeated in Glenshesk.11 South of Doonfin there is, in the towniand of Ardagh, a high hill, Slievenamaunfuin - "the mountain of Fionn's wives," so named from two white stones, that stood within a few feet of each other on the east side of the hill, said to be two of Fionn's wives enchanted into stone. These stones are now removed from their original positions; one of them is lying on the site and the other is placed in a fence.
On the banks of the Shesk in the farm of Thomas Casley, in Ardagh, are the ruins of an ancient building called "the Friars' House".It seems to have been 40 feet by 20 in the inside; what remains of it now are portions of the sidewalls 40 feet in length, 3 feet in breadth and from 1 to 2 feet in height built of stone and lime. A number of ancient cherry trees still bear fruit, and some fertile spots along the Shesk are said to have been the flower and fruit gardens of the friars, and are now called "the Vinyard." Adjoining to it was an ancient fishpond. It was here the Franciscan friars established their "Locus Refugii," when expelled from Carrickfergus and Bunnamargy. A list of "suspected men in Ulster " in the reign of Charles II. is preserved among the Carte Papers, Bodleian Library, vol. xxxiv, p.290, and among these suspected are "Hugh O'Dornan, chief of the friars of Glenwalch (a mistake for Glenshesk) in ye Barony of Carry, and ye rest of ye friars there." Primate Oliver Plunket in his report on the state of religion in Down and Connor in 1671, says-" In the Convent of Carrickfergus, in the diocese of Connor, there are ten Franciscans of whom only five are priests. Amongst these Hugh O'Dornan and Daniel O'Mellan are distinguished in preaching. There is a certain Paul O'Haran who is well versed in literature." Hugh O'Dornan was elected Guardian of the Franciscan Convent of Carrickfergus in 1645 and held the office until February 4th, 1648. He held the same office from Sept. 8th, 1661, until October 18th, 1669, and he was again elected to it, August 23rd, 1675, and held it until March 14th, 1681. We may therefore presume that the "Friars' House," in Glenshesk, was erected shortly after the Act of Explanation which reinstated the Marquis of Antrim in his estates. About a quarter of a mile, south-west of the "Friars' House," are the "Friars' Wells," or Tobar-na-mbrahar, three springs in a line of twelve yards along a "bridle" road at the base of a lofty hill. About a quarter of a mile west of the Friars' House is a stone 5 feet long, 3 feet broad, and 1 foot 8 inches thick, having a circular basin 10 inches in diameter and 7 1/2 inches in depth, hollowed in it. This stone is raised about 1 1/2 feet above the ground by several stones placed under its ends. It is seated on a rocky eminence in the farm of John McCaula close to the village of Ardagh. On the east side of it 4 1/2 feet square was enclosed by rows of stones sunk on their ends. Close to it on the north-east side are traces of ancient houses and small enclosures, 5 1/2 feet square on the inside, bounded by flat stones fixed on their ends and rising from 1 to 4 feet above the surface.-See Ord. Surv. MS. A few perches south of Ardagh townland, across the Sroanboy burn, is the Grave of McQuillin, where, it is said, the last chieftain of that name perished. Ardagh is named in The Four Masters Ard-achadh-" the high field," as the site of an important battle, fought A,D. 1095.: -
"A great victory was gained at Ard-achadh, by the Dal.araidhe, over the Ulidians, wherein was slain Lochiama Ua Cairill (O'Carroll), royal heir or Ulidia; and Gillachomhgba~1 (servant of Comgal]) Ua Cairill; and a great host along with them."
Knocklayd or some place in its vicinity was the scene of a great battle which is recorded by The Four Masters under the year 622.
"The battle of Lethed-Midinn (pronounced Lehed-Midiun), at Drung, was fought by Fiachna, son of Deman, Lord of Dal-Fiatach, against Fiachna, son of Baedan, King of Ulidia. The battle was gained over Fiachna, son of Baedan, and he fell therein."
Dr. O'Donovan supposed Lethed-Midiun to be Knocklayd, Midinn is a name which is not met elsewhere in Irish literature, there is, however; a legendary individual Midhe, the son of Brath, son of Detha, who is mentioned in the Dinnseanchas, as the first of the Milesians who lighted the sacred fire on the Hill of Uisneach in Westmeath. On the summit of Knocklayd stand the ruins of a grey cairn which seems to have been 15 yards in diameter but is now completely disfigured by modern erections. This cairn is named Cairn-an-truaih, perhaps from truagh "woe," but in popular pronunciation the last word is changed frequently into truir and the name translated - " the cairn of the three." There is a legend about three Norwegians buried beneath it, while another version of it tells that a Scottish lady, named McLeod, and her two children are there interred. At the eastern base of the mountain is a Standing Stone 7 feet high, 5 1/2 feet broad and 5 1/2 feet thick, which was enclosed by a circle of stones, 24 feet in diameter; some of which yet remain. In 1823 three two-edged, sharp-pointed bronze. swords, 1 foot 6 1/2 inches, each having two rivet-holes, were found stuck perpendicularly in the subsoil on the summit of the mountain. - See Ord. Surv. MS
In times of Persecution the Catholics of Ramoan attended at the celebration of Mass at the Friary in Ardagh. Mass was celebrated in Kilcraig, and at Carnsaggart in Gortconny. Towards the end of last century the principal Mass Station was a garden in Broombeg which at present belongs to William McClarty ;12 that garden was offered in 1794 as a site for a chapel but the Catholics preferred to have their chapel in Ballycastle. Hugh Boyd, Esq., on the 16th of January, 1795, granted to the Rev. Roger Murray a lease in perpetuity of a plot of ground in the north-cast of what had been called Whitty's Park and which had been in the possession of Patrick O'Scally. On this Father Murray erected a little chapel which was afterwards enlarged and re-dedicated in 1838. Father McAlister determined on erecting a new church and converting the old chapel into schools; he obtained from the late Mrs. Keats Boyd 13 5 acres of ground, one of the most beautiful sites for a church that could be found, commanding a delightful view of the beautiful scenery around Ballycastle and of the distant hills of Cantyre. The site is an elevated piece of table-land, immediately adjoining, but rising high above, the streets of the town. The plans for the new church were prepared by the Rev. Jer. R. McAuley, Archt., who was at that time curate of Cushendall. The foundation stone was blessed and laid, June 7th, 1870, by Father McAulay by permission of Dr. Dorrian, who was then attending the General Council in Rome. In a cavity prepared in the foundation-stone was placed a bottle in which were deposited a few coins, some of which bore the date 1870; two hymns - one in honour of St. Patrick, the other of St. Brigid, and the following scroll : -
"Quo tempore Revmus. Dom. Dom. Patricius Dorrian, Dunensis et Connoriensis Episcopus Concilio Vaticano aderat ; Revus. Dom. Jeremias Ryan McAulay, Vicarius de Cushendall, qui ichnographias confectas donaverat, ad istam functionem, Revdo. Dom. Patricio McAlister, parocho, rogante, delegatus primarium hunc lapidem benedixit et in fundamento ecolesiae SS. Patricii et Brigidae apud Ballycastle, collocavit; inspectante frequentissimo populo, qui una cum aliquot sacerdotibus occcasioni honoris causa occurrerat feria tertia post Pentecosten, die Septima Junii anno rep. sal. 187014
"14 Oxford Terrace, St. Leonard's-on-Sea,
5th May, 1869. "REV. Sir - I thank you upon Mrs. Boyd's behalf, as well as upon my own, for your kind expression of acknowledgment for the assistance given to you in obtaining a site for a new Roman Catholic Church. I can assure you that Mrs. Boyd has been actuated by no other motive than one of common justice to her Roman Catholic tenants in acceding to your request. When I told her that I objected to the proposed site, as named by the late Mr. Boyd, she gave me authority to act as I should think proper, at the same time remarking that all her tenants, irrespective of creed, should receive from her the consideration due to them. I have now the pleasure to enclose herein, at her request, a cheque for £50 on the Northern Bank, Ballycastle, in your favour as her donation to your building .- I am, Rev. Sir, yours faithfully "Jno. Gower O'Neill.
"The Rev. P. McAlister, P.P., Ballycastle."
Sir - I desire through the medium of your journal to acknowledge, with feelings of sincere gratitude, on behalf of the Catholic people of this parish, the receipt of £50 from Mrs. Amy Boyd towards the building Fund for the new Church of SS. Patrick and Brigid, Ballycastle This liberal contribution is the more highly appreciated as it is the spontaneous offering of the generous donor. The very excellent site (a plot of five acres of ground) on which the new church is to be built, is also the gift of Mrs. Boyd. The liberal sentiments expre"ssed in the appended letter. which accompanied the donation, do honour to Mrs Boyd and to her worthy and benevolent son-in-law, and will, no doubt, be read with much pleasure by the tenants of the Ballycastle estate.-I remain, sir, your obedient servant,
Ballycastle, May 10, 1869.
The church was solemnly dedicated under the invocation of St. Patrick and St Brigid on Sunday, August 9th, 1874, by Dr. Dorrian The dedication Sermon was preached by Dr. Conroy, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois High Mass was celebrated by the Rev. John Carroll, P.P., Armoy. Father J. Lennon was Deacon, Father H, Henry, Sub-deacon, Rev. Mr. Watters, Master of Ceremonies, and Father P. Magorrian, Assistant at the Throne. The collection on the occasion amounted to £530. The style of architecture is the Gothic of the twelfth century. The western facade is very imposing; over the double door, with its enriched jambs and head, a label moulding springs, enclosing a triangular space for sculpture. Above this is a triple lancet window, the centre light of which is 21 feet in length, and each light is 2 ft. 2 in. broad. The north and south aisles are lighted by coupled lancets, with quartre-foils at the springing. The sanctuary has a large triple light window. The lady chapel is similarly lighted. At the western corner of the south aisle the commencement of a tower of sixteen feet square is carried up only so high that it is for the present roofed in by a prolongation of the roof of the aisle; it is, however, intended to be surmounted by a broach spire rising about 120 feet. The church is in the clear about 104 feet in length and 50 feet in breadth; it consists of a nave and aisles. The north aisle, which is intended to have at the west end a Calvary, is terminated at the east end by a chapel of Our Lady containing a beautiful altar, the reredos of which is sculptured to represent the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary of the B. V. Mary. The triple window over the altar displays a beautiful lily in the stained glass of each of its lights. The Rosary Altar is privileged in perpetuum. This chapel cost £200. The south aisle terminates at its west end with a baptistry, and at its east end with sacristies. In length, the nave is divided by columns and arches into five bays, of sixteen feet each. The sanctuary, twenty-one feet six inches wide by twenty-four feet in clear, contains a beautifully designed and costly sculptured altar. The external finish of the church is in quarry picked broken freestone ashlaring, with cut-stone polished dressings. The roof is open timbered, the timbers being all planed, stained and varnished.
The church of Glenshesk, in the townland of Corvally, was erected by Father Hugh McCartan. A slab inserted in the gable bears the following inscription
Erected A..D. 1827.
The site was the generous gift of
The grounds, which occupy a statute acre, were planted and ornamented by the Cuppage family.
Father M'Alister altered, in 1875, the old church of Ballycastle into a School-house; and in 1879 and 1880 erected the Parochial House on the grounds attached to the new church.
After the change in the religion of the state the necessities of the Catholic Church compelled her to unite the parish of Ramoan with the union of Armoy and Ballintoy, and it was only in 1825 that it was severed from that union. In that year Dr. Crolly was waited on in Mr. Edmund MacGildowney's - at the Quay, Ballycastle, by some of the Catholic inhabitants of Ramoan, in order to solicit him to appoint a separate parish priest. The Bishop requested them to walk with him through the warren, and they there debated the question. They undertook to pay at least £40 per annum for the support of a parish priest, and he undertook to provide them with one in a few days. Father McCann surrendered the parish of Ramoan, and Dr. Crolly, about the 1st of August, 1825, appointed a friar named McCarril, who had officiated for some time in Kilcoo. Father M'Carril does not appear to have suited the new parish, and left in a few months.
The Rev. Hugh McCartan was then appointed. Father McCartan was born in the year 1800, in Drumena, parish of Kilcoo , entered the class of Humanity in the College of Maynooth, January 18th, 1818 ; was ordained by Dr. Murray, in Maynooth, in 1823, and was appointed parish priest of Ramoan, in 1825. He erected the church of Glenshesk ; and in March, 1828, he was appointed parish priest of Derryaghy.
Father McCartan was succeeded by Father John McMullan; he was born in Erynagh, parish of Bright, in the year 1798; entered the Rhetoric Class in the College of Maynooth, September 13th, 1822 ; was ordained by Dr. Murray in Maynooth, at Pentecost, 1826 ; was curate of Derryaghy, from which he was appointed in March, 1828, parish priest of Ramoan. He died January 2nd, 1830, and was interred within the church of Ballycastle. "On Saturday, the 2nd inst., the Rev. John McMullan, P.P. of Ballycastle. This estimable, pious, and charitable ecclesiastic, had not attained the 32nd year of his age when he was called by his Creator to receive the reward of his virtue. The mildness of his manners, and the unaffected piety, by which he was characterised, conciliated to him the affections of all who knew him. By his death, the poor have sustained a loss not easily reparable." - The Guardian, Belfast, January 12th, 1830.
Father Charles Hendron succeeded Father McMullan; he was born in Castle Street, Belfast, in 1789; entered the Class of Humanity in the College of Maynooth, April 7th, 1810; was ordained on the 30th of November, 1816, by Dr. Troy; officiated as Curate in Belfast, from which he was appointed parish priest of Derryaghy towards the end of 1824; resigned that parish in March, 1828, and was appointed parish priest of Ramoan in January, 1830. He died on the 10th of March, 1840, and was interred in the church of Ballycastle. "The body was placed in a grave at the foot of the sanctuary to mingle with the ashes of his predecessors." - Vindicator.
When the old church was changed into a school, Father McAlister transferred the remains of Fathers McMullan and Hendron to the graveyard attached to the new church, and erected over their grave a cross on the base of which is inscribed : -
Rev. John McMullan,
Born near Downpatrick, A.D. 1800
Appointed P.P. of Ramoan, March, 1828,
Died November, 1830.
And his Successor, Rev. Charles Hendron,
Born in Belfast, 1789.
Appointed PP., of Romoan, 1830,
Died March, 1840.
Their remains were translated from the old Chapel where their bodies had been first interred into this cemetery on the 17th of February, 1875. R.I.P.
The Rev. George Dempsey was born in the parish of Maghera, or Bryansford, Co. Down. He studied in the college of Kilkenny. A note in the handwriting of Dr. McMullan referring to the dates of the ordination of priests is : - " In March, 1811, Hugh O'Neill and Patrick Bradley, of Connor, and George Dempsey of Down." They were ordained by Dr. McMullan in Downpatrick, on the 11th of March, 1811 (see Vol. i, p. 30). Father Dempsey officiated as curate in several parishes ; one of these was Maghera or Bryansford, where he was appointed administrator under Father Murray in 1824; he was Curate of Glenarm when he was appointed in 1840 to the curacy of Ramoan, and after the death of Father Hendron he succeeded to the parish. He retired on a pension at Easter, 1848, and went to reside with his relatives at Blaris, near Lisburn, where he died, February 11th, 1850. He was interred in the grave of his uncle, Father Edward Dempsey, in the church of Lisburn. The Rev. James McGlenon succeeded Father Dempsey. He was born in the Tievendarragh, parish of Loughinisland; studied in the Diocesan College; entered the Logic Class in the college of Maynooth, August 25th, 1839; was ordained in Maynooth by Dr. Murray, June 10th, 1843 was appointed Curate of Downpatrick, September 22nd, 1843; was appointed Administrator of Ramoan, April 20th, 1848, and became parish priest on the resignation of Father Dempsey. He was appointed parish priest of Duneane, September 3rd, 1862.
The Rev. Patrick McAlister succeeded Father McGlenon. He was born in Bonecastle, parish of Down, was baptized by the Rev. Cornelius Denvir (afterwards Bishop of Down and Conner) on April 12th, 1826; studied in the Diocesan College; entered the Logic Class in the College of Maynooth, August 27th, 1848; was ordained in Clarendon St. Chapel, Dublin, by Dr Whelan, Bishop of Bombay, September 18th, 1852; appointed Curate of Ballymena, November 18th, 1852; sent on a temporary mission,as locum teneus to Glenravel, while Father Conner was engaged in building St. Patrick's Church in the Braid, where he officiated from December, 1853, till March, 1854; returned to Ballymena and, after a few months, was appointed Curate of the Lower Ards, April, 1854; was appointed Curate of Ahoghill in October, 1856, but sent to take charge of Ballymoney until Father McErlain, the recently appointed parish priest of that parish, could go from the Diocesan College to it, which did not occur until March 10th, 1857; was curate of Ahoghill until May, 1858, when he was appointed Administrator of Holywood and Ballymacarrett, while Father Killen, the parish priest, was administering the parish of Belfast for Dr. Denvir. Father McAlister caught scarlatina in Holywood when discharging his duties and was sometime off the mission through sickness. He afterwards officiated two months in Saul, three months in Ballymena and four months in Glenravel; after which be was re-appointed to the curacy of Holywood and Barlymacarret; from that mission he was appointed parish priest of Ramoan, Septemter 2nd, 1862. At a meeting of the parish priests held in the chapel of the Diocesan College, November 6th. 1885,immediately after the funeral of the Most Rev. Dr. Dorrian,15 Father McAlister was elected Vicar Capitular of Down and Connor. On the 26th of November, 1885, the parish priests again assembled in the same place and under the presidency of the Primate elected the Rev. Alexander McMullan, P.P,, Duneane, by 8 votes as Dignus, the Rev. John McErlaine, P.P.., Ballymoney, by 9 votes as Dignior, and the Rev. Patrick McAlister by 24 votes as Dignissimus for selection by the Pope for the vacant bishopric.16 His Holiness having appointed Dr. McAlister, his Lordship was consecrated in St. Patrick's, Belfast, on Sunday, March 28th, 1886. The consecrating prelate was the Most Rev. Dr. Nulty, Bishop of Meath, who was assisted by the Most Rev. Dr. Donnelly, Bishop of Clogher, and the Most Rev. Dr Woodlock, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise.17
My Lord, - It is with sentiments of the deepest filial affection that we, your own beloved parishioners, desire to bid your lordship a hearty welcome to-day, and to express our thanks that Almighty God, although depriving us of a loving pastor, has been pleased to place the mitre of this illustrious diocese on the head of one so learned so patriotic, and so holy.
My Lord, your life for the past 23 years has been entirely devoted to our service, you have raised in our midst a magnificent Church, of which we are justly proud, and which, together with the Parochial House and Schools, you have given us, shall long remain a monument of your energy and zeal. But your Lordship's efforts to promote the glory of God did not rest here you also endeavoured constantly and earnestly, both by word and example, to instil into our hearts a great love for God, and an undying devotion to our holy Faith.
My Lord, we had vainly hoped that after giving the brightest days of your life to us, those which yet remain might have been ours as well. But the hand of God has raised you to a more exalted position and we sincerely pray that He may grant you long years of health and happiness to rule your faithful people.
We beg you will he pleased to accept, as a slight token of our deep love for you, the accompanying Pectoral Cross and Chain, and that you will ever regard us as your own especial care, and Ballycastle as your home.
Signed on behalf of the parishioners of Ramoan
E. F. McCamhridge.
His Lordship, in the course of his reply, said -
My dear friends, it is with feelings of deep emotion that I receive the address of welcome and the present which your generosity has offered me to-day. For both I beg to tender to you, and through you, to the people of this parish, my most sincere and cordial thanks. It is true I have spent the last twenty three years of my life amongst you. It was a great happiness to me to work for a people, who always showed a ready willingness to co-operate in the promotion of every good work which I undertook. To this spirit of generous co-operation is mainly due the success of those works. I had fondly hoped, that where I had lived so long and so happily I would have been permitted to end my days. The disappointment of that hope has, I assure you, my dear friends, caused me more genuine grief than any occurrence of my life, and that grief is increased by the reflection that I did so little for the Parish or Ramoan. The gift which you have presented to me I -esteem very highly on account of its intrinsic value and artistic beauty; but much more because it is the gift of the people, whose esteem I value most, and whose welfare beyond that of all ,others shall ever be dear to me. When I wear this chain and cross at the Holy Altar I will not forget you - the donors. I will commend you to the prayers of Saint Patrick and Brigid, and ask those Holy Patrons of our parish and our country to obtain for you the grace to be always true to faith and fatherland To-day I wish to bring back to your recollection, that when I undertook to build your church and its altar, the primary object I had in view was to erect a becoming sanctuary, where our Divine Saviour, in the Sacrament of His love, might deign to dwell in your midst, and to bless you. And, as in my present position, I need much the aid of your holy prayers, I ask you, my dear friends, when you pay your visits to our Lord on the altar, to commend me to the mercy of His Sacred Heart.
The chain and cross, which were manufactured to the order and special design of Messrs Campbell & Company, Jewellers, Belfast, are exquisitely finished. On the centre of the cross, which is Celtic in form, are enamelled the arms of Down and Conner, while on the right and left arms are engravings of Saints Patrick and Brigid, the patrons of the parish of Ramoan. On the circle of the cross is the motto "in hoc signo vinces" and on the back the following inscription, "This Pectoral Cross and Chain The gift of his parishioners to the Right Rev,. Patrick McAlister, on the occasion of his Episcopal Consecration, March 28th, 1886.
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