Ordnance Survey Memoir For The Parish Of Culfeightrin*

The Society wishes to thank the Officers of the Royal Irish Academy for kindly permitting the publication of this Memoir, and the Staff of the Northern Royal Ireland Public Record Office for its assistance in transcribing the text.

The Society has already published the Ordnance Survey Memoirs for a number of parishes within the Glens, namely Layd and the Granges of Inispollan in 1968, Ardclinis in1973, Rathlin in 1975, and Tickmacrevan in 1976. This year we present those for the parish of Culfeightrin. These consist of Lieut. T. O. Robe’s Statistical Report written in July, 1831, and James Boyle’s Description written in July, 1835. Both are given here in their entirety. Unlike those previously presented, the Culfeightrin  Memoirs include a long, detailed and illustrated report on the “Ancient Topography” (archaeology) of the parish, written by Thomas Fagan. (For a number of reasons this has been omitted.) 


Ordnance Survey field memoir for the parish of Culfeightrin:  Statistical Return by Lt. T. C. Robe, Royal Artillery, 21 July, 1831

  Culfeightrin 001



Name: The name of Culfeightrin is involved in much obscurity.  Bryce, Esq., gives two derivations as probable, viz., Cul Eac Trann  and Cul Faeacrainn, signifying the bank or defence of the foreigners.

The parish is much better known in the neighbourhood as Carey parish and many of the lower orders of inhabitants appear scarcely to know the name of Culfeightrin. Carey is likewise the name of the barony and is said to be a corruption of ‘Cah a Righ’ (the battle of Kings) or ‘Cahir Righ’ (the King’s chair). There is a small mound opposite the church which called by the same name, and it is generally said that the barony takes its appellation from that spot.

Situation: It is situated in the north-east of the county of Antrim in the barony of Carey, occupying the whole line of coast from the mouth of the Glenshesk river to that of the Glendun, and comprising the whole space between these rivers to their sources near the summit of Orra mountain, with the exception of the narrow strip occupied the Granges in Layd, viz, the north side of Glendun.

Boundaries: It is bounded on the north and east by the sea, on the south by Layd and the Granges belonging to that parish, and on the west by Loughguile, Armoy and Ramoan, of which the Glenshesk river is the boundary.

Extent: It. extends from north to south about 7 British miles, exclusive of the two projecting pieces, one of which runs up to Orrah mountain and the other to Cushendun. From east to west the extent is about 8 miles It contains 26,473 British Statute acres.

Divisions: It is divided into 72 townlands.

*Royal Irish Academy, Box 8, Antrim VIII

Surface and soil: At the south-west corner stands the mountain of Slieve- na-Orra, 1,683 feet in height (the parish does not run quite up to its summit). From this the summit of the Glenmakeeran ridge of mountains is the south edge of the parish and subordinate but considerable features run far into the interior, the principle Of these are Carneighaneigh and Carnleagh, and the latter the ridge extends to the sea, where it forms the bold and beautiful promontory of Fairhead (the north-eastern point of the parish, or, more properly speaking, of Ireland).

This headland is well worthy of the attention of the traveller, being probably one of the most stupendous cliffs in the United Kingdom: its height from the sea is 643 feet, the upper half being very nearly perpendicular, and formed of gigantic columns of basalt, some of them nearly 40 feet in diameter. Owing the great size of the columns, the peculiar formation is not so immediately perceived as at the Giants Causeway, but on viewing the face of the cliff, which may be done in several places from projecting points, the divisions of the columns are easily traced, and some of them appear to be partially divided into a number of smaller ones.

They do not appear to be divided into joints like those at the Causeway, but the generality of them are unbroken in their whole length. The shape of the columns may be traced on the top in many places, particularly a little to the east of the Station, which is at the highest point, but the heath with which they are partially covered renders them somewhat obscure. The outer range in many places is separated more than a foot from the rest, and the chasm thus formed extends a considerable depth, and sheep are not infrequently lost by falling down these places. Some of these enormous columns are separated singly from the rest, but are still standing, and as in some instances, they slope outwards where they present a most terrific appearance. One of them appears to have given way at its lower extremity and to have subsided perpendicularly — there is still about 200 feet of it left; it leans against the face of the cliff. Assuming one of these prodigious columns to be only 10 feet square, which is very far below the usual size, and 300 feet long, it would give 30,000 cubic feet in one mass, the weight of which, at the specific gravity of 2.8, would be 2,344 tons; and if the column was 20 feet square, which is more nearly the average, the weight would amount to the immense quantity of 9,376 tons.

Looking over the edge of the cliff, the lower part, which at a distance appears to be a regular slope of about 40 degrees, is found to be an assemblage of huge fragments of basalt which have fallen down from time to time and are thrown together in the greatest possible confusion, and from their generally rectangular form give an idea of some immense building having been thrown down; from the great height at which the spectator is placed, the mass of ruin appears to be nearly flat, but it is on going amongst these fragments that their vast magnitude displays itself in all its grandeur. To pass along the foot of the cliff is a work of great difficulty and danger, even to experienced cragsmen, for these enormous stones, some of them above 100 feet long and so hard as to have resisted the efforts of time in effecting more than partial decomposition of their surface, of course, leave large interstices between them, and the adventurous person whose curiosity tempts him to visit this part will frequently have occasion to leap from one rock to another, with the consciousness that if he miss his footing, search for him be fruitless. There are two paths by which the descent may be made, one to the east of the Station, called the Greyman’s Path; it is a fissure in the cliff and very narrow and walled in on each side by perpendicular columns.  The descent of the first part is very steep and dangerous to persons unaccustomed to it, but the country people make no difficulty of coming up it with creels or seaweed on their backs.  Near the top a column has failed across the fissure and forms a natural architrave.  The stone is broken across in the middle, but has fallen down and choked up the passage; if he saw it in that state, some person must have taken a great deal of trouble to replace it, as it certainly was there in March, 1831.   But the fact is, it never has quitted its place since it first took it, and when it does so it will defy human ingenuity to place it there again.  The other path is near the western end of the cliff, where the lake called Lough Doo (Dubh) discharges itself.  This path is much more practicable than the other, but still a difficult one, and from the foot of this a passage may be effected with a little toil to the collieries, from whence there is a good road to Ballycastle.

The basalt of Fair Head is very coarse grained, the crystals of hornblende being very distinct and frequently of a considerable size.  In some places it is highly magnetic and possesses a polarity in a very great degree.  The places where I have observed this the strongest is at the south-west angle of the column on which the Trig (nomentrical) station is situated, where the rock is a good deal decomposed.

There are three lakes at Fair Head. The one called Lough Doo (Dubh) above-mentioned is worthy of remark as it is nearly at the summit of a bold cliff and the ground falls away from it within a very short distance all round, leaving no apparent adequate means for keeping up its supply. There is ‘a constant, but never great, discharge from it. There is another lake to the east of this called Lough na Cranagh ; this is at a much lower level. East of this again is Lough Fadden, the highest of the three.

The remainder of the parish is described in a few words. From Head westward to the Glenshesk river the country slopes gradually, intersected by several streams and presenting a bold cliff along the coast, where the collieries are situated and which will be hereafter mentioned. This is the most improved and inhabited part of the parish. The soil is very poor and sandy. From Fair Head southward round the coast the country is very steep and rough, with very little actual cliff beyond Murlough Bay, but the ground slopes down to the sea. It is very poor and difficult of cultivation.

Produce : Potatoes and oats and a small quantity of flax.

Turbury: Very abundant and of a very excellent description.

Mica slate or gneiss:  This is the prevailing rock over the southern part of the parish, its northern boundaries extending from Coolyvially to Murlough Bay.  It contains numerous subordinate beds of porphyry, primitive limestone, hornblende rock, etc., and is of a great variety of colours and degrees of fineness.  The principal beds of porphyry, are between Torrcorr and Cushendun; this substance is of a red colour and partakes much of the character of granite.  It was called by Captain Pringle granite porphyry.  It is composed chiefly of felspar in distinct crystals and contains numerous small crystals of mica of a very dark colour  and some quartz. Some of the crystals of felspar are as much as inch long and half an inch wide. There is a very fine bed of it on the shore at Castle Park. It would bear a high polish but is not quarried.

The primitive limestone occurs chiefly at.and in the neighbourhood of Torr Point. It of a dark grey colour, some of it very fine grained and in some varieties the concretions are very large and have a satin lustre which would.be very beautiful if polished, though being very much softer than the fine grained variety it probably would not bear so high a polish. It is not quarried at anyplace. The hornblende rock is found in a great number of localities.

Sandstone : The finest point in the geological series where this is: found is in Aughnaholle and Loughan, where it immediately overlies the mica slate, and is of a deep red colour. This, or a similar bed occurs again in Murlough Bay, where it forms the lower part of the cliff and rests on the mica slate, which is also of a deep red. The continuation of this bed is not traceable beyond the north end of the Bay, owing to the mass of ruin at Fair Head which conceals it, but on the west side of the Head it is again met with a little fighter in colour and supporting this range of basaltic column‘s. From this point it extends along the west towards Ballycastle and gradually becomes of a much lighter colour, changing to a light yellow and white. In these latter beds the coal occurs. This sandstone is extensively quarried for architectural purposes, for which it is very well adapted. Ballycastle church is built of it. It also made into grindstones, tombstones, etc., and the white sort into scythe stones.

Coal: There are several beds of coal, but only one which is of sufficient thickness to be worth working. They have been worked for a long period and are now nearly exhausted. It used formerly to be exported to the amount  of 10,000-15,000 tons annually, but now it is with difficulty that a. sufficient supply for the consumption of the immediate neighbourhood can be obtained, and none is sent away by sea. A few cart loads are sent to Coleraine and Ballymoney weekly.

This coal-field is divided into 11 portions or collieries by dykes. Of these 11, only two are now worked at all, and these in very slovenly manner. From the exhausted state of the beds and the collieries being let on leases: of only seven years! it is not probable that any material improvement will take place in the manner of working. In several of the collieries the bed of coal is at a low level and dips beneath the level of the sea (but in the inland direction), these, from the porous; nature of the sandstone, soon become filled with water, and of them would require a very considerable outlay of capital. The coal is bituminous and burns very fiercely without caking‘, and leaving only white ash. The manner of working is by levels or adits driven into the face of the cliff. The price of the coal is 10 shillings per ton at the pit.

Limestone : There are three descriptions of Limestone, viz., primitive (already mentioned) mountain- of carbonacous limestone and chalk. The mountain limestone occurs in a bed below the coal along the shore. Its thickness is about 4 feet in two distinct strata. It is very full of fossil remains of enenrinitis and it is not made use of.

The chalk occurs in extensive beds commencing in Murlough Bay and extending south to Cushleake and Aughnaholle, forming a belt in the mountain of Carnleagh and likewise in Carneighaneegh. It is also highly probable that it occurs in Glenmakeeran mountain and thence on to Orrah, but the surface is covered with so thick a coating of bog as to prevent its being seen. Numerous pieces of it, however, are found in the torrents coming from those mountains. It is quarried in considerable quantities for burning and used as manure.

Mulatto stone: This occurs in a thin bed in Murlough Bay, separating the the chalk and sandstone. It may be seen in great perfection at the foot of the cliff in Torglass in so close contact with the sandstone that specimens may easily be taken of the two in conjunction. These bear a striking resemblance to a piece of brick with mortar adhering to it.

Basalt: That at Fair Head has been described. A range of similar columns, though rather similar, occurs in Ballyvoy, and is seen in the upper part of the cliff above the colliery.

The summits of Carnleagh and Orrah are covered with a cap of the common sort of basalt and so are probably Carneighaneegh and Glenmakeeran mountains.

Basaltic Dykes : There are several of these dykes at the collieries, one of them called Carrickmore Dyke is at the eastern end of the coalfield. It may be seen crossing the beach and running through two large rocks called by the same name. The rocks appear of a different nature from the common basalt much resembling indigo blue clay.

Another of these dykes about a mile to the westward immediately below where the road goes up the cliff. It is called North Star Dyke. It runs out to sea a considerable distance and the sandstone has been washed away from it on both sides, leaving the dyke resembling an artificial pier. These dykes not only throw out the coal measures, but the coal itself adjoining them is reduced to a cinder, in some instances to the distance of 9 feet. A remarkable alteration likewise takes place in the chalk When a dyke traverses it. The chalk is rendered much harder, perfectly granular and translucent on the edges, and, in fact, resembles sta . . . . .marble.  Attempts have been made with some success to work this where the effort can sufficiently pay, and some of it was made use of in Rathlin Church.

Minerals : Iron ore occurs in small quantities in the coal formation, but there is too little of it to be made use of.

Sulphate of barytes or heavy spar is found in a stream in East Torr, close to the road leading to Cushendun. There is a considerable vein of it. It is not made use of.

Towns and Villages: There is no town in the parish and no village deserving of the name. Coolnagoppag is the largest group of cabins. There are neither fairs or markets in the parish.

The Parish Church is a little more than a mile from the bridge over the Glenshesk river on the road to Cushendall. It is a neat, stone building lately erected. The parish is now a rectory since the death of Dr.Traill, Chancellor of the Diocese (Down and Connor). It is held by the Rev. 0. Hill, who was vicar of Ramoan and this parish until the event above mentioned (February, 1831),  when the Union of these parishes with Loughguile, Armoy and others ceased and each was raised into a separate rectory. There is no glebe house.

The RC. Chapel is a little beyond the church on the same road. These are the only places of religious worship.

Manufactories: There are none, except a small quantity of coarse linen made by the peasantry. Salt was formerly manufactured near Ballycastle, but the trade has now been discontinued and the buildings have fallen to decay.

Roads : A principal road is that from Ballycastle to Cushendall over the mountain. Part of it is not kept in very good repair, but on the mountain it is a very good road. There is also an old road to the same place which is very much out of repair, and a road by Torr Point and round the coast leading likewise to Cushendall; the hills on this road are so steep and there are so many of them as to render it almost impassable for carriages. There is a good road along the shore as far as the collieries, and a tolerably good one up the Glenshesk.

Rivers : The Glenshesk forms the Western boundary of the parish; it is a mountain torrent, not navigable. The Carey river runs into this a short distance from its mouth; this is. likewise a mountain stream with  numerous ramifications collecting the waters from almost the whole surface of the parish. It is not navigable and it is scarcely even used for turning mills.

Bogs and Woods: Two-thirds at west of the parish is covered with mountain bog. There have been some plantations lately made at Ballinagard, but, with this exception and a, few ones at Cushendun, there is no wood.

Population: To be obtained from the census now making.

Antiquities: The Abbey of Bona Margy; close to the bridge over the Glenshesk. It was founded in 1509 by Charles McDonnel, and is one of the latest Monastic Edifices erected in Ireland. It is now only used as the burying place of the Antrim Family, and the Graveyard is likewise much used by the lower orders, particularly the Roman Catholics. The walls of the building are still standing, but they possess little or no architectural beauty.

The old Church of Culfeightrin stands about a mile S.E. of Bona Margy, there is nothing worthy of remark in it.

There is a single tower of a castle in the townland of Castle Park near Cushendun. It does not appear to have belonged to an extensive building. It is called Castle Carra.

There is a very singular fort or enclosure in the townland of Altagore.  It is circular, the interior being 66 feet in diameter. The north wall is about 8 feet high, built of large loose stones without mortar, and about 20 feet thick. The stones of the interior face are laid with considerable regularity, and having a slight slope, the exterior is not so perfect, being in most places merely a heap of loose stones. This is probably in a great measure occasioned by the stones of the adjoining land having being thrown there.  In one place it is less encumbered with these small stones, the original foundation of the building may be observed composed of large stones laid in a curve concentric with the interior and near there, on top of the wall, is the opening of a covered passage, descending through the thickness of the wall, into the interior, in a curve occupying about one- sixth of the circle.  This passage appears to have had rude steps at the exterior entrance and to have been a gradual slope afterwards, but as some of the roof had fallen in it could not be explored.  The roof and the sides of the passage, which is about two feet wide, are composed of large stones; being partly filled with rubbish, its height could not be ascertained.  The height of the roof stone of the interior entrance above the ground is about 4 feet; the entrance is nearly closed up.  There are some stones left projecting in one part of the interior wall which serves as steps.  In the interior, which has been lately cultivated, there are a few young trees near the edge where the wall appears to have been removed to make an entrance.  The inhabitants of the neighbourhood could give no account of it further than that they call it the ’Castle’.  It is situated about 20 chains north of where the road crosses the large stream dividing Altagore and Tornamoney.

Altagore Cashel





There are several other Forts or Mounds in this Parish, but they differ little from the numerous ones found all over the country; few of them have a parapet. One of these, Cahir Righ, has been already noticed. There is an indistinct tradition among the peasantry of a great battle having taken place near this which gave occasion to the name Cah a Righ, but E. McGildonney, Esq., an old inhabitant and also the proprietor of that part, says that Cahir Righ is the correct name. On the very summit of Carnleagh Mountain just below the Trig station there is a small cave built with broad stones. There is no tradition concerning it. Most of the “Guides to the Coast of Antrim” mention one of these caves at Fair Head and give it the name of Put’s House. This error must have been copied from one of these works into the others, for in the numerous visits I have made to Fair Head I never could discover either the cave itself or any person who could give me any information respecting it.

(Signed) T. C. ROBE, Lieut, Royal Artillery. July 26, 1831.

Ordnance Survey Memoir for the Parish of Culfeightrin, Co Antrim.

by James Boyle. July, 1835


Hills: A lofty range of mountains forming the northern extremity of the great Antrim range extends from north to south across this parish. Slieve-an-Orra, 1,676 feet above the level of the sea, is close to the southwest boundary of the parish and from it a ridge extends northwards to the sea, but is intersected by the Carey Warner which almost forms separate features of that part of it along the coast, and part of the ridge on its south-west

The southern side of this ridge is formed by the steep mountain or bank in the Granges of Layd and Innispollan, which also forms the northern side of Glendun valley. The summit or highest points in the ridge are near the south—east boundary of the parish, from which it extends to Carnlea. Near the coast, ‘the average height of this ridge above the sea is about 1,300 feet. The principal points in it commencing at the south are Slieve an Orra, 1,676 feet; Greenan Top, 1,249; and Carnlea (about 1 from the sea and in the northern side of the Carey Water), 1,250 feet above the level of the sea. North-west of these 1s Carneihaneegh, 1,056 feet above the level of the sea. There is rather a rapid fall westward of above 650 feet the summit of this ridge, but after that the fall becomes gentle and gradual and finally terminates in a bank at the Glenshesk river which forms the western boundary of the parish.

Several small valleys or gorges are formed between the several points above mentioned by the rivers which flow down the north-west side of this ridge and almost separate features are formed between these streams. That stream called the Carey Water forms a sort of valley across the northern- end of the ridge and nearly separates the feature extending along the coast from that on the opposite side. There are several smaller or gorges formed by the streams which flow down the western side of the feature north of the Carey Water.

* Marginal annotation. This is rather confused. Refer to Mr Ligar to simplify it.

Southward of the Carey Water another gorge or valley is formed by the Glenmakeeran river which, flowing in a, north-west direction down the side of the ridge, unites near its base with the Carey Water, forming a second almost distinct feature.

A third lesser gorge is formed by a small tributary stream of the Glenshesk river which flows almost parallel to the former streams.

Glenshesk valley, which extends along the western side of the parish from north to south, is the most northerly of the 8 beautiful glens which are to be met with on the coast of this county. This glen extends for a distance of 7 1/2  miles from Slieve an Orra mountain at its southern end to Ballycaste Bay at northern extremity, Where the river by which it is watered and from which it takes its name discharges itself. Its eastern side is formed by the extremity of the mountainous features just before described, which, though lofty and wild at its southern extremity, becomes gradually lower towards it mouth, Where it terminates in a low bank. Part of the opposite side of the glen is formed by the mountainous feature extending northwest of Slieve an Orra and the remainder by the lofty mountain of Knocklayd.

The features enclosed or contained between the streams before mentioned all present a similarity of character and appearance, except that extending along the coast. There is a back slope inwards from the northern side of this feature which extends along the entire coast of the parish. It preserves its distinct appearance from near Torr Head to the western extremity of the parish where, becoming gradually lower, it terminates. Towards the eastern side of the parish it becomes less distinct until it can be no longer traced. The northern side of this feature is abrupt and rugged, and in many places perpendicular in its descent. It forms the coast of this parish and a description of it under that head will be found in its proper place?

Lakes : There are 4 lakes in this parish, namely, Lough-na-Cranagh in Cross townland and near the coast at Fair Head. Its elevation above the level of the sea, is 401 feet and it extends over an area of 24 acres, 2 roods, 20 perches. Its extreme depth is 187 feet and it seems to have been formed by the lodgement of water in a rocky hollow. A small stream flows into it and there is also one flowing from it which tends to preserve an equality of depth in the lake throughout the year. This wake abounds with very fine trout which were originally carried there.

Lough Doo, in the same townland, is next in size; it is close to the edge of the cliff and is 487 feet above the level of the sea. It extends over 9 acres, 1 rood, 24 perches, and its extreme depth is about 6 feet. It also is environed with rocks. Three trifling streams from springs flow into it and one which ‘falls over the cliffs flows from it.

Lough Avoon, in the townland of Ballyvennaght, is 713 feet above the level of the sea and extends; over 9 acres, 0 roods, 39 perches. In summer it becomes almost dry, except in one hole where it is said to be unfathomable and from which the water which flows from the lake into it make its exit through the cliffs into the sea a distance of more than 3 miles. This lake is formed in a hollow by several small streams, which flow into it.

* Marginal annotation: This complete section is side lined for rewriting.

Lough Faden, which is in the townland of Knockbrack, is 612 feet above the level of the sea and extends over 5 acres, 3 mode, 16 perches. Its extreme depth 7 feet. It seems to be formed by springs and  the lodgement of water in a rocky hollow from which there is no visible outlet.

Rivers: The principal rivers in this parish are the Glenshesk, which taking its rise in the eastern side of Slieve-an-Orra mountain, flows from south to north far about 8 miles forming the western boundary parish and discharges itself into the sea at Ballycastle bay. It does not make any injurious or beneficial deposits and is usefully situated for drainage, irrigation and water power. For a  further description of this river, see Rivers: Parish of Ramoan.

The Carey river, which takes its rise near the west side of Glenmakerran mountain in this parish, and at an elevation of about 1,200 feet above the level  of the sea: from this it flows north-west in a serpentine manner for 5 miles and descends to a level of 140 feet above the level of the sea after receiving the contributions of numerous small streams in its course. At this point it is joined by the Glenmakerran river, by which it considerably  augmented, and after still pursuing a north-west and serpentine course for 2 miles it discharges itself into the Glenshesk river one-third mile from the sea at Ballycastle bay after descending to an elevation of about 10 feet above its level. Its average fall is 1 foot and 30 feet. It’s course (about 2 miles from its source) is interrupted  by a ledge of rocks which produces a waterfall about 16 feet high. From the height of its source and those of the numerous tributary streams which join it, it is subject to sudden and very violent floods which very rapidly and subside equally so. But little injury is done by them, as the banks of the river are generally high and sufficient to confine it. In a few places, however, mischief is sometimes done by it, particularly in autumn when the crops are on the ground. Its bed is in some places rocky, but for the most part gravelly. It does not make any deposits nor impede communication. It is valuable for machinery, drainage and. irrigation. is very impetuous in its floods and its velocity considerable, as is indicated ‘by the size and quality of the stones washed down by it. Its extreme depth (in summer) is 2 1/2 feet. Its extreme breadth 37 feet and average breadth 17 feet. Its banks vary in height from 4 to 120 feet and the scenery along them is in many places very wild and beautiful.

The Glenmakerran river rises in the north side of the mountain of the same name in this parish and at an elevation of about 1,250 feet above the level of the sea. It flows for 2 1/2 miles in a, north-west direction. After this it pursues a northerly course for 1 3/4 miles, but again strikes off in a north-west direction which it keeps for 3/4 mile when it discharges itself into the Carey river at a distance of 2 1/3 miles from its mouth and at an elevation of 140 feet above the level of the sea. Its average fall is 1 foot/24 feet. Its extreme summer depths 2 feet; extreme breadth 34 feet and average breadth 13 feet. It is capable of being applied to machinery, drainage grid irrigation.  It is subject to sudden aha impetuous floods, which subside rapidly. Its velocity in these floods is very great. Its bed is for the most part gravelly. It sometimes deposits gravel on the few small holmes along it and washes the soil off them. It does not impede communication. It’s banks, particularly  towards its mouth, are high and steep and serve to confine the river

during floods. Except near its month, there is nothing interesting or pleasing in the scenery along it.

This parish is supplied with spring and river water. There are not any hot or mineral springs in it.

The bogs in this parish extend over two-thirds of its surface, occupying all the mountainous parts of it, and they are to be found, at elevations  from 100 to 1,000 feet above the level of the sea and vary in depth from 3 to 15 feet. Large quantities of timber have been taken out of and are daily found in them. In Glenmakerran, three layers of very fine fir timber are found in a. bog of from 8 to 14 feet deep. They seem in each layer to have been broken at the same height and the trunks are almost invariably found to the westward of the stumps. The soil is greyish clay.

The bog on the top of and in the neighbourhood of Fair Head also contains some large timber. Oak and a little sally are the only kinds. This bog seems to have been at one time very deep and to have been several times cut over. It is not more than at the most 4 feet deep at present, and the oak stumps rest on the substratum (basalt). These stumps are very large and beam evident marks of fire. Very few trunks are found; those which are die at some distance from the stumps and three or four are sometimes found together. The timber in this bog is found within a few feet of the edge of the cliff. There is no timber in the bogs towards the north-east of the parish. They are not very deep and sand is frequently found underneath them. The principal sub soil is reddish clay, but towards the western extremity of the parish mica slate* is the usual substratum. These bogs are very little explored or cut owing to their being so expensive and uninhabited.

The only remains of the woods which once abounded in this parish are the small patches of head birch and holly brush wood which are to be found in the valley of Glenshesk and on the banks of the Carey river. These patches are very small and the brush wood very low and stunted.

The quantities of timber formed in the bog are also evidence of the former existence of woods in the parish.

There are 12 1/2 miles of coast along the eastern and northern sides of this parish. Nine miles of it extend from Cushendun bay at the south-east to Fair Head at the north extremity of the parish, and 3 1/2 miles from Fair Head to Ballycastle at the north-west extremity of the parish. Its general  direction is from south-east to north-west.

The bays are Ballycastle Bay, the eastern side of which is farmed by that part of the coast extending from Ballycastle town to Fair Head. This bay affords but little shelter to shipping, the only protection being from the east and south-east Winds, and it is quite open to the west and north-west which prevail here. The seas here, even in moderate weather, are very heavy owing to the confluence of several tides between Ballycastle and Rathlin Island. When the wind is from the west or north-west, the sea here is tremendous and small boats cannot live in it.

Murlough Bay is a trifling indentation of the coast 1 1/2 miles southeast of Fair Head. It affords no protection to vessels and is only remarkable for the beauty of its scenery. The water is deep enough to permit the steamers to come so close to the shore that a stone may be thrown aboard from it in fine weather.

Cushendun Bay is at the southern extremity of the coast of this parish by which its north and west sides are formed. The high land on this coast terminates here and affords a little protection from the north and north-West Winds The western side of the bay is a sandy beach about 3/4 mile long and forms the bay by retiring a little from the general direction of the coast This bay is exposed to the north-east, east, and south-east winds.

The headlands are Benmore or Fair Head, 3 1/2 miles from Ballycastle town, the north-east point of this parish and also of Ireland. This headland is well worthy of attention, being probably one of the most stupendous cliffs in the United Kingdom. Its height above the level of the sea is 636 feet, the upper half being very nearly perpendicular and formed of gigantic columns. of basalt, some of them 40 feet in diameter.* Some of these enormous columns are standing separate from the rest, and where they slope outwards they present a terrific appearance. One of these appears to have given way at its lower extremity and to have subsided perpendicularly? There is still 200 feet of it remaining leaning against the cliff. Assuming one of these columns to be 20 feet square and 300 feet long (which is about their average size), it would give 120,000 cubic feet, the weight of which at the specific gravity of 2.8 would 9,376 tons. Looking over the edge of the cliffs, the lower part which at a distance appears to be  regular slope of about 40 degrees, is found to be an assemblage of huge fragments of basalts which have fallen down from time to time and are thrown together in the greatest possible confusion, and from their rectangular form give the idea of some immense building having being thrown down. From the great height at which the spectator is placed, the mass of which appears to be nearly flat, but it is on going down among these fragments that their vast magnitude displays itself.

There is a very remarkable feature in this headland called “The Grey Man’s Path,” and about which number-less absurd and fabulous stories are told. It is a sort of natural gorge or gut in the precipice by which with a little scrabling a descent to the base of the headland or from it to the top may be effected. It is very narrow in passing through the cliff and near the top at height of about 10 feet from the path a large column, cracked in the centre, has fallen across, which adds considerably to the general effect.

Three and three-quarter miles south-east of Fair Head and 2 miles south-east of Murlough Bay is the promontory of Torr Head, celebrated as having been the place on the summit of which the Scots who had migrated or invaded this country used to light their beacons for the purpose of alarming and calling to their assistance to their countrymen in Argyleshire.

Marginal annotation: Query. * Cancelled marginal annotation by R. K. D[awson] : “This is merely a wider feature of Torr Head and must be considered part of it.”

The coast between Torr and Fair Head and also from Torr to Cushendun is rugged and broken, varying in height from 880 to 200 feet above the of the sea.

The scenery along every part of the coast is magnificent, but particularly at Murlough Bay. Here the traveller or tourist will be much astonished to find in the face [of] a rugged and almost inaccessible cliff (exposed to all the keenness of a sea breeze and a northerly blast) the  richest soil, the finest crops and. the most luxuriant foliage’s. Two or three families have chosen this sequestered spot for their residence, and the fruits of their industry can at one glance be seen in their winding paths sheltered by shady Sycamores, their comfortable dwellings and neat gardens, and the general air of cheerfulness about their habitations. Larch and sycamores are found growing up to the very top of the cliff, and both nature and art have combined to render it picturesque and beautiful. In fine weather steamers from Derry to Liverpool pass close to the shore.

This is the chosen spot for many a picnic and pleasure party during the summer.

The view of the coast of Scotland is very fine and includes those parts of it between the island of Islay and the Mull of Galloway. There are few finer drives than by the old coast road which, though hilly, will still repay the tourist for his trouble. The climate is and the air pure. Seed time commences about the end of March and harvest sets in about the 20th of August. The mists in the glens and towards the neighbourhood of the mountains hinder the crops there from ripening so early, and they are generally three weeks later than those mentioned.




Towns : There is no town in the parish.

Cushendun is a small village in a townland of the same name situated on the sea coast at Cushendun Bay at the south-east corner of the parish. It consists of two parallel rows containing 13 houses, seven of which are two-storey and slated. They are of a tolerable description. Three of the two-storey houses are occupied by a chief officer and six coastguards. There are two grocers and two spirit dealers, and the rest of the inhabitants are mostly engaged in agriculture. Cushendun is cheerfully situated, and the neighbourhood is frequented in summer by gentleman’s families who have bathing lodges there. It is 4 miles from Cushendall and 11 from Ballycastle. The Glendun river flows passed it and vessels of 50 tons can come a short way up it at high water.*

Escort is a cluster of about 20 cabins of a wretched description, It is situated near the signal staff near Torr Head. The inhabitants are of the poorer class.

In Coolnagoppoge townland, 2 1/2 miles east of Escort, there is another collection of cabins

* Cancelled. Marginal annotation [by R. K. D.[awson] : “It cannot be considered a navigable river”.

** Marginal annotation by R. K. D.[awson] “It cannot be East”


Public buildings: The parish church, which stands in Ballynaglogh townland two miles from Ballycastle on the road to Cushendall, is a neat well-finished building 40 feet long and 20 feet wide and capable of accommodating 100 persons. It is built of stone. The windows are Gothic and have cut mouldings, and there is a handsome little cut stone spire over the doorway. This church has been recently erected.***

*** Query date, cost, etc

The Roman Catholic chapel is situated in Barnish townland, one quarter mile further from Ballycastle than the church and on the same road. It has just been enlarged and improved and is now a handsome building adorned at its angles with light and tasteful pinnacles. It is still unfinished inside. Its extreme dimensions are 56 feet by 20 and it will accommodate about. 400 persons.

Bath Lodge, the residence of the Rev. Mr Hill, the rector of the parish, is a plain two-storey dwelling house situated on the seashore in Broughanlea townland and one and a quarter miles from Ballycastle.

Churchfield, the residence of the Rev. Robert Casement, curate of the parish, is situated in the townland of the same name 1 3/4 miles east of Ballycastle. The house is two-storey, plain and prettily situated.

Cushendun House, the residence of Robert Smyth, Esq., is a comfortable two-storey house situated in a townland of the same name and one-third mile from the sea. There is some planting about the house. Its situation is very pretty.

Glenmona, the summer residence of Michael Harrison, Esq., is a very neat modern bathing lodge situated in the same townland and near the sea.

Glen’s Cottage, the summer residence of Major James Higginson, is a roomy two-storey house in the same townland within one-half mile of the sea. There is some planting about it.

The summer residence of Major General O’Neill, M.P., is situated near the coast in Castlepark townland and one-third mile from Cushendun. The house is a modern two-storey edifice and very commodious.

Mills: The corn mill in Bonamargy townland is propelled by a breast water wheel 14 feet in diameter and 2 feet 2 inches broad.

The corn mill in Carey Mill townland is propelled by a breast water wheel 12 feet in diameter and 1 foot 4 inches broad.

The corn mill in Ballyindran is propelled by a breast water wheel 13 feet in diameter and 1 foot 10 inches broad.

The flax mill in Ballypatrick townland is propelled by a breast water wheel 12 feet 6 inches in diameter and 2 feet broad.

Communications: The principal road in this parish is that from Cushendall to Ballycastle. There are 6 1/2 miles of it in this parish and

its average breadth is 23 feet. It is unavoidably very hilly, passing as it does over a ridge 1,000 feet above the level of the sea, but it is in good repair.

There is a second road to Torr Head and round the coast to Cushendall. The hills on this road are so steep as to be almost impassable. It is not in good repair.

There is another road from Ballycastle about 2 1/2 miles along the coast to the collieries’ [it is in tolerable repair).*

There is also a tolerably good road from Ballycastle up Glenshesk, of which *there are 4 miles in this parish.

All these roads are kept in repair at the public expense.

An improved line from Ballycastle to Larne through Cushendall is now being made under the direction of the Board of Works. By this road the steep hills on the mountains between Ballycastle and Cushendall will either be avoided or their ascent rendered less steep. It is expected that this road will be open by the first September, 1835.

There are several small bridges and pipes in this parish, most of which are in sufficient repair. The bridges over the have been described in Ramoan parish and those over the Glendun river in Layd parish.


Early improvements : The earliest improvement which my have taken place in the manners of the inhabitants of this parish has probably been the migration and settlement of the Scots which commenced about the year 1500, when they came over with the MacDonnells, and from the almost exclusive prevalence of Scottish names it would seem that the original occupiers of the soil have been dispossessed. The most prevalent name is that of McAuley, which is borne by one-third the population. The most prevalent name next to it is McBride. Glenshesk valley is almost peopled by these two families, particularly the former, all of whom have located in it. The other prevailing names are those of Campbell, Stewart, McIntyre and McDougall, etc., names which are still the most prevalent in Argyleshire.

Mr Hamilton is of opinion that the coal strata on the coast of this parish were mined and the coal used as fuel at a period antecedent to the Brehon laws. Several shafts were discovered in the year 1770, if which none of the persons then employed had any knowledge until they were accidentally opened. The size of the coagulated masses found in these ancient excavations strong evidence that many years have elapsed since they were worked.

In 1750 the late Mr Boyd created a spirit of improvement in this neighbourhood. Salt pans and other manufactures were established on the coast. The collieries were worked with great activity and a general improvement was observable in the surrounding country. Since his death the manufactures have wholly fallen away. The coal mines have become less productive and the only results of his laudable exertions which remain are to be found in the improvement which this transitory flow of capital and industry made in the character and circumstances of the people.

It is thought that the coast guards have been the means of an improvement in the habits of the people in the mountainous districts along the coast of this parish, as the habits of the 1atter were until that period very rude and primitive.

Obstructions to improvement: Mr Boyd, the proprietor of the collieries, being a lunatic, the estate is in Chancery and no greater lease than seven years can be obtained from the Chancellor. This is: the great obstruction to the improvement which would arise from the working of the collieries, but on such a lease no one would venture to expend the large capital which would be required, many of the beds being in an exhausted state, and in some of the collieries the beds being at a low level dip beneath the sea and would from the porous nature of the sandstone soon become filled with water. The drainage of these would require a very considerable outlay of capital.

Local government: There are neither magistrates nor police in this parish. There are 12 coast guards. This parish is in the manor of Ballycastle, the court of which is held in the town of that name. No outrages of any kind have been committed even within a distant period, nor is there any parish where life or property are more secure. Illicit distillation still exists, but not to half the extent it formerly did. This is owing to the activity of the Revenue Police. There is not now any smuggling. There are not any insurances of any kind.

Dispensary : Patients from this parish are to the Ballycastle dispensary, but no separate list of them is preserved. No infectious disease of any kind has been lately prevalent in it, and it is therefore difficult

to say how far the establishment of such an institution may have affected the health of the people, though their comforts are certainly increased by it.

Schools: The people seem anxious for information and to have their children instructed. The change or improvement in their morals is certainly in some degree perceptible. Very few persons under 25 years of age are unable to read and many of them possess a great taste for knowledge (see table of schools).


Religion: The religious persuasions are the Protestant, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic. By the revised census of 1834 there are 430 Protestants, 5,012 Roman Catholics and 30 Presbyterians in this parish.

The rector is supported by his tithes. The Protestant curate receives a salary of £75 per annum from the rector and the priest is supported by his flock.

Habits of the people : The houses of the lower class are all one-storey, thatched, and built of stone. Those in the more cultivated part of the parish are tolerably comfortable and consist of from two to three apartments. They are rather cleanly and receive light from two or sometimes three glazed windows. The house in the more remote and mountainous districts are not near so cleanly or comfortable and seldom consist of more than one apartment. There are several very comfortable farmers houses, the planting about which gives them a very comfortable appearance. Meal and potatoes, with a, little fish, form the only articles of food. In the mountainous districts meal is used. Tea is becoming an indispensable article, particularly with the older persons. Turf, which is very abundant, is the only fuel. Their dress is very good and comfortable, particularly in the more cultivated districts. They marry rather early and are rather long lived, though are no remarkable instances on these heads. Dancing forms their principal amusement and of it they are passionately fond. A dancing master is kept in constant employment by them and many of them come to the fairs of Ballycastle for no other purpose. St, Patrick’s and St. John’s are their only patron’s days. Their traditions respecting them are absurd and ridiculous. The only custom now existing is that of burning fires on St. John’s eve. There are not any peculiar games or legendary poems or tales, except those so known respecting the engagement between the MacDonnells and the McQuilIans on Slieve an Orra mountain. The Irish cry has been discontinued within the last few years. There is not anything peculiar in their dress.

They are very honest and peaceable and industrious and hospitable. The Roman Catholics are very superstitious, having a firm belief in all manner of ghosts, fairies and enchantments.

Emigration : A considerable number, perhaps 30 on an average, emigrate in spring to the United States of America. Fewer have emigrated this than last year. They are mostly of the labouring class. Very few return.

A great number, perhaps 100 on an average, of the young men and women go annually to the Scottish and English harvests, but return when they are over and in time for the Irish harvest.  So many do not go now as formerly, there not being the same encouragement either as to wages or employment.


Remarkable events: There is not any record of any remarkable person being born, nor any remarkable event having occurred in this parish.

It may be remarked that it is said the chief of the McQuillans was killed in this parish near Slieve an Orra after the fight on that hill, and pieces of armour and weapons, bones etc., have been occasionally found in Glenshesk valley. 

      Culfeightrin 001









Leave a Reply