The Society wishes to thank the Officers of the Royal Irish Academy for kindly permitting the publication of these Memoirs, and the Staff of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland for its assistance in transcribing the text. There are three memoirs for this parish as for those already published. The first is by Lieutenant Robert Boteler and is dated April 1833, the second by James Boyle October 1835, the third is a rough draft by Boteler. The first two are here published in their entirety. Those details in the third which do not appear in either of the other two are added to the first at appropriate places in square brackets. The sections on Ancient. Topography are omitted as before.
* This article first appeared in ‘The Glynns’ Volume 9 (1981). It is presented here with additional photographs and hyperlinks.
STATISTICAL RETURNS FOR THE PARISH OF SKERRY BY LIEUTENANT R. BOTELER ROYAL ENGINEERS 20 APRIL 1833
It is situated near the centre of the County of Antrim and in the north end of the Barony of Lower Antrim, it is also one of those parishes forming a tract of country anciently called the territory of Hy-Tuirtre, and is three miles east of Ballymena, twenty-two miles north of Belfast and close to Broughshane. It is in the Diocese of Down and Connor, and Province of Armagh, and is a rectory united to the Parish of Racavan; the newspaper the Northern Whig, says the tithes under the Composition Act, are worth £119. Evin, in the Life of St. Patrick says that the Apostle of Ireland passed out of of Hy-Tuirtre by Fersaid Tuama, a ferry on the River Bann, now Toome. Hugh Boy O’Neill in the fourteenth century, crossed the Bann and seized this land and some adjoining tracts and ever since his time, this part of Ireland is in the Irish Annals and old English deeds known by the name of Clannaboy i.e. Clann Hugh Boy, the clan or descendants of Hugh Boy O’Neill and their patrimony.
Boundaries: It is bounded on the north by the parishes of Dunaghy, Ardclinis and Tickmacrevan, on the N. E. by Tickmacrevan, on the S. by the parish of Racavan and on the W. by the parish of Kirkinriola.
Extent: It extends from north to south about six British statute miles and from east to west about 10 miles. The parish contains 20,176 British statute acres.
Surface and soil: The north of the parish is a continued range of mountains commencing in the west at Carncormick 1,424 feet above the sea and extending eastward nearly to the sea; the highest point.
Surface and soil: 1,424 feet above the sea and extending eastward nearly to the sea; the highest point (Quoile) is 1,456 feet and is about 1 1/2 miles east of Carncormicke north of the parish is a continued range of mountains commencing in the west at Carncormick.
They have a bold appearance and from the diversified manner of their formation, rocks and heather intersected by deep glens and ravines present to the traveller a highly finished and romantic landscape.
At the south end of Carncormick and rising from its base is a small ridge of mountain forming Carncoa and Knockboy mountain and extending southwards 4 miles. This southern and western part of the parish are principally cultivated and though the soil is sterile and rocky the labours of the husbandman are gradually overcoming the difficulties of nature. Rising in the midst of the most cultivated parts, may be discerned rocky hillocks, whose gigantic aspect and generally wild appearance prove what obstacles must have been opposed to the husbandmen.
Produce: The general crops are potatoes, flax and oats. In succession generally potatoes, oats and oats. Potatoes are the general preparation crop throughout this country. Barley is sometimes cultivated in this country. [The oats ripen in September the potatoes are dug and pitted in November.]
Turbary: Turbary is most abundant and of a very excellent description.
Balsalt and Greenstone: There are a number of basalt and greenstone quarries throughout the parish; the same rocks are also to be found in rolled masses in almost every part of it but principally in the mountains and their glens. It is used for building and making roads. On the boundary between the townlands of Ballymena and Clonetrace there are a number of rude basaltic columns in blocks 9 inches thick, the highest column about 9 feet and extends 35 feet.
Amygdaloid: There are considerable quantities of amygdaloid to be found throughout the parish principally at the east end.
White clay stone: Hard white clay stone, porphyry appears close to the schoolhouse in Ballycloughan townland. It is quarried and used for windowsills.
Gravel and Sand: Large beds of deluvial (?) gravel with layers of very fine sand occur in Kinbally principally and other townlands. It is raised in great quantities and sold for building, making walks etc.
Manufactures: The manufacture of brown linen which formerly was carried on to a considerable extent but has much declined of late years, is still continued. In the townland of Correen there are bleaching mills and and in Knockboy there is a beetling engine and bleach mill but the green is given up.
Beetling Engine (Photograph Courtesy: National Museum of Scotland)
In the same townland there is a spinning factory belonging to Alexander Davison Esq., in which a number of young persons are employed. Spinning at home is no longer profitable and is followed more from habit and as a resource from idleness than for the sake of its small profit.
Workers at a Bleach Green. Courtesy: National Library of Ireland.
Roads: From the town of Broughshane standing outside of the parish and close to its boundary, diverge a number of roads running through the parish, the principal of which is east along the south of the parish being the road from Broughshane to Carnlough and Glenarm. It is generally kept in good repair. The road from Broughshane to Newtowncrommelin and Cushendall leaves Broughshane at its east end running north through the west side of the parish, where before crossing the north boundary it is joined by that from Ballymena. They are kept in generally good repair. The road from Broughshane to Clough leaves the former town at its west end and runs north through the west side of the parish and west of the Newtowncrommelin road. There is also a mountain road running nearly east and west through the parish. It is principally used as a communication between the upper part of the Braid district and Clough. It is kept in good repair besides those aforementioned. There are a number of crossroads connected with the main roads for the convenience of the inhabitants going to the neighbouring markets and fairs. There is a new line of road projected from Broughshane to Cushendall through the mountains.
Rivers: The principal river is the Braid which rises in the S.E. of the parish and forms its boundary, running west for about 11 miles before leaving the parish; it is subject to sudden rises from its vicinity to the mountains and in summer is nearly quite dry; from the situation of the river a number of millstreams and water courses leave it for keeping the bleaching machinery in motion.
The Braid River
On each side on its course westward it is joined by a number of minor rivers and streams, which swell it to a considerable size before leaving the parish.
The Braid near Ballymena
About four miles west of leaving the parish after passing Ballymena it joins the Main Water which flows into Lough Neagh below Randalstown.
The River Main(e) at Randalstown
The Clough Water River The Clough or Ravel Water rises between the parishes of Ardclinis, Skerry and Dunaghy close to their junction, and flowing west forms the boundary between the two latter for about nine miles. In its course it is joined by minor streams which swell its waters to a considerable size, like the Braid it is subject to sudden floods.
The Clough-Water River
[The banks of the Braid from its source down for about two miles are wild and uncultivated but improve as you get near Cleggan, from this on to where it joins the Main Water they are tolerably well cultivated. In the vicinity of Broughshane being well-wooded they have a picturesque appearance, the other parts are very tame.] Besides those there are the small rivers of Cleggan and Ballymena which rise in the north of the parish . . . .? the Braid.
Bogs and woods: The south of the townland of Cleggan, a part of Longmore, Aghafatten and Ticloy are planted. They have been chiefly planted within the last forty years by Earl O’Neill as a preserve for game and at the same time to beautify his hunting lodge. There are also plantings and woods in the townlands of Tollymore, Knockboy, Ballymena and Correen. The principal parts of the mountains are a flow bog of a very soft nature, parts of which are nearly impassable.
Population: The southern parts of this parish are chiefly peopled by the numerous descendants of the Scottish settlers whilst the glens of the mountains are inhabited by the native and original inhabitants of the country among whom the Irish or Erse language is spoken more with a view of preserving it than for any other purpose as the English is spoken by them all. The Scotch inhabitants as they are called speak a mixture something like Lowland Scotch.
Gentlemen’s Seats: In the townland of Tollymore is the seat of the Hon. Major General John O’Neill, M.P. In the townland of Cleggan is the hunting lodge of Earl O’Neill who resides there but for a short time during the shooting season. It is built in the cottage orne style and is prettily situated and surrounded by plantations of a considerable extent.
Cleggan Hunting Lodge (photographed in the 1970’s)
In the townland of Knockboy is the residence called Knockboy of Alexander Davison Esq. In the townland of Correen, Whitehall the residence of James White Esq. In Ballymena townland is Oaklands the residence of Counsellor White. He has left it and it is at present uninhabited. The Rev. William Stewart, Presbyterian minister of Broughshane resides in Knockboy townland. In addition to those the Rev. William Crawford rector of Skerry has built an extensive house in Carnkern townland.
Schoolhouses: There are 5 schoolhouses in the parish principally erected by the Kildare St. Society. In one of them in the townland of Loughconelly, divine worship is occasionally celebrated according to the rites of the Established Church.
Places of Worship: A Roman Catholic chapel, is the only place of worship in the parish, and is situated in the townland of Breckaugh [at the foot of the mountains,] the other Scots have their places of worship in Broughshane, a small town close to the southern boundary of the parish. [The chapel is capable of holding about 200 persons.]
Natural curiosities: On the boundary between Clonetrace and Ballymena townlands formed by a small but rapid mountain river and about half a mile above the point where the same two townlands and that of Elginny meet, is a remarkable waterfall below which the river has cut its passage in a very singular manner through the solid basalt rock. At the waterfall the river becomes about 6 feet wide only, running over a step 8 or 10 feet below the top of the rock and falling from 15 to 20 ft where a dark and narrow passage extends for about -60 yards, its breadth varying from 5 to 6 feet. So regularly are its sides formed that it scarcely appears otherwise than as a work of art. After extending the distance above described the passage gradually opens and the cliff loses itself in the sides of the steep bank bounding the river. About 200 yards lower are some basaltic columns similar to those at the Giant’s Causeway although not so regular.
Antiquities: There are the ruins of an old Church situated on a rocky hill in the townland of Magheramully 11/2 miles ( . . . ) and said to have been built in one of the early centuries. There is a tradition that St. Patrick about the 5th century kept sheep on the hill above named for a king of Ulster, and that an angel appeared to him after which the print of his (St. Patrick’s) feet or knees were left in the rock. There are marks now extant which are shown for them. In the old graveyard belonging to the church were interred many of the ancient family of the O’Neills. Between the old church and the road to Glenarm is a round abrupt hill on which some old tombstones and earthen vessels containing ashes were found about 30 or 40 years ago.
In the townland of Lough Loughan and within 3/4 of a mile of the old church is a well much venerated by the Roman Catholic inhabitants for certain virtues it is said to possess; it is called Tubbernasool or the eye well.
In the townland of Knockanally is a fort or mound called Knockanaffrin or Mass Hill; it is said that mass was once performed there.
In the townland of Ticloy and N.E. about 300 yards of the point where the boundary between it and Killycarne crosses a mountain road is what appears either a druidical altar or perhaps more probably a tomb formed by masses of rock rudely piled and forming a species of house closed on three sides and at the top. By the people in the neighbourhood it is called the Stonehouse and the townland to which it gives its name is pronounced as Ticloich which is said to signify a stonehouse; the last syllable is pronounced like the German Euch, strongly gutteral.
West of the above is the site of another about 20 yards (?) distant the masses used are not so large as in the other and those that appear, stand about 3 feet out of the ground; the latter has been much destroyed by the farmer occupying the land having removed some of the stones to help build a fence with. In both the rock used is of the same nature as that composing some cliffs within about 300 yards of them. In the first described house some bones were said to have been found in the inside at the farthest extremity of it.
The Rev. William Crawford, rector of Skerry, says in making some improvements in the townland of Carnkern was discovered what appeared to be an ancient burial place in which was found earth of a heavy black kind. The derivation of the word may thus be traced to Cairn a grave while Karne will I believe be found to signify the same as serf or vassal. The place was certainly of ancient note and set down in the map of the Down Survey. In the townland of Killycarne there was formerly an ancient burial ground but no traces of it are now extant.
Those, with a number of ancient earthen forts scattered throughout the parish are the only antiquities of note.
Note: At the doorway of a cottage in Loughconelly townland and close to the Glenarm road I remarked a tombstone the characters of the surface of which were too much defaced to afford any information as to its date etc. On referring to the owner of the cottage he mentioned the circumstances alluded to.
TABLE OF SCHOOLS
EGLISH: A pay school held in a very bad house, probable cost £12; the master Hugh McKendry, Roman Catholic, annual income £10. The average number of pupils attending during the previous three months was 38 Presbyterians, 20 males, 18 females. By the Roman Catholic return 38 Presbyterians, 22 males 16 females.
RATHKENNY: A pay school held in a house of stone and lime in very bad repair, its probable cost £12 or £14; the master William. Johnson Presbyterian, annual income £10. Pupils (attending as above) 30 Presbyterians 18 males 12 females.
KILLYGORE: Pay school held in a barn worth £10, the master James Johnson, Convenanter, annual income £10. Pupils 33 Presbyterians, 3 Roman Catholics, 22 males 14 females.
CLONETRACE: Pay school in a stone and lime building worth £30, the mistress is Mary Mcllroy of the Established Church, her income is 3 shillings a quarter. Pupils 12 Presbyterians, 7 males, 5 females.
ELGINNY: Pay school, in a very bad house worth £10, Arthur McGill, Roman Catholic is the master, annual income £10. Pupils 9 Presbyterians, 5 Roman Catholics, 8 males 6 females. Roman Catholic returns say 12 Presbyterians and 3 Roman Catholic .12 males and 3 females.
CORREEN: Pay school held in a very bad house worth £12, the master is James Galway, Presbyterian, annual income £12. Pupils are Established Church 2, Presbyterians 24. 19 males and 7 females. By the Roman Catholic returns there are 2 Established Church, 26 Presbyterians, 19 males and 9 females.
AUGHAFATTAN: Pay school held in the master’s own house worth £20. He is Charles O’Kane, Protestant, annual income £15. There are 25 Presbyterians and 1 Roman Catholic attending, 17 males and 9 females. By the Roman Catholic returns there are 15 males and 11 females.
BALLYLIG: Pay school held in a very bad house worth £12 or £15, the master is Alexander Rickey, Presbyterian, annual income £12. Pupils 17 Presbyterians 3 Roman Catholics, 14 males 6 females.
THE ORDNANCE SURVEY MEMOIR FOR THE PARISH OF SKERRY
by James Boyle, October 1835.
Section 1: Natural Features, Modern Topography and Social Economy
Hills: This parish includes the large mountainous feature which extends in a southerly direction from Collin A 1,419 feet above the sea (over which the northern boundary of this parish passes) and forms a portion of the Antrim range of mountains. This feature is sub-divided into numerous minor features by the streams which flow down its southern side. The direction of the ridges or features thus formed is from north to south and by a succession of these its slope southward is formed. They are in general abrupt and many of them rocky, but become more gentle in their fall as they approach the Braid River which forms the southern boundary of the parish and the average elevation of which is about 250 feet above the sea.
The fall westward is more gentle and gradual than that towards the south and finally terminates at an average elevation above the sea of 300 feet. . . .
The slope northward to the Clogh River though regular is very rapid, being 900 feet from Carncormick, 1,431 feet above the sea to the nearest point of the river just mentioned, a distance of about 1 1/3 miles. The average elevation of the Clogh River while forming the northern boundary of this parish is about 750 feet.
The summit of this great feature . . . is very much diversified by being intersected by the deep glens and ravines formed by the numerous streams flowing down it. The appearance of the mountains is bold and wild and their numerous glens and gorges, and valleys on their northern and southern sides gives them a romantic effect, and present a highly finished and picturesque landscape.
The principal points are Carncormick (towards the north of the parish) 1,431; southeast of it and in the centre of the parish Ballymena 1,176 feet, northeast of the latter is Sworne’s Hill 1,321 and south of these is Knockramer 1,106 and Neill’s Top 1,040 feet above the level of the sea.
The beautiful valley of the Braid extends along the southern side of this parish, its southern side being formed by a parallel ridge to that in this parish and its eastern extremity being formed by a neck (about 1,000 feet above the sea) in Tickmacrevan parish and near the coast. This neck: serves to connect the features just mentioned, and also forms the western extremity of the valley of Glencloy in the latter parish.
The wild glen of Glenravel watered by the Clogh River extends along a part of the northwest side of this parish. It is narrow and its sides lofty, uncultivated and wild.
The Clo(u)gh – Water
A little valley extends along the west side of the parish. Its eastern side is formed by the mountains in this parish and its western by the lower ground in Kirkinriola parish which falls gently towards it.
There are numerous gorges and ravines in the parish, some of them are worn to a frightful depth by the impetuosity of the mountain torrents.
Rivers: The principal is the Braid which rises in the adjoining parish of Tickmacrevan at an elevation of about 650 feet above the level of the sea. It flows S. W. for 8 miles along the southern boundary of this parish and descends to a level of 170 feet being an average fall of 1 foot in 88 feet. It finally, after an entire course of 12 miles discharges itself to the Main river 10 miles from its mouth and at an elevation of 110 feet above the sea. Its average breadth is 38 feet and average depth 18 inches. Its bed,gravelly and stony; its banks are low and it is in many places wearing them away and changing its course. It is subject to frequent and sudden floods which generally inundate almost level country through which it flows but seldom do much mischief. On the 7 November 1834 the highest flood remembered for 40 years caused by the heavy rains took place in this, as well as in all the rivers in the neighbouring district of the County. Three bridges on this river and in this parish were broken down, quantities of stone washed on the fields and the soil carried off. The injury done by this flood by washing away corn and potatoes and in some parts large quantities of soil was very serious. It soon subsided without making any deposit except occasionally throwing up a little gravel.
It is very valuably situated for machinery, drainage and irrigation, particularly the first of these purposes.
The Clogh River which takes its rise in the mountains in this parish and also that of Ardclinis at an elevation of about 1,200 feet above the level of the sea S.W. along the N.W. boundary of this parish for 9 miles and decends to a level of 410 feet above the sea. From this it pursues a westerly course between the parishes of Dunaghy and Kirkinriola and finally discharges itself into the Main river at a distance of 18 miles from its mouth and at an elevation of 263 feet above the sea. Its average fall in this parish is 1 foot in 56 feet; average breadth 13 feet and average depth 1 foot. Its bed is stony and gravelly; its banks are high and in the mountains rocky and precipitous, having worn its course through them to a considerable depth. It does not overflow them. It is applicable to machinery, drainage and irrigation and in the lower grounds is usefully situated for the first of these purposes.
The Ballymena River or as it is more commonly called the Artogues Water takes its rise in Carncormick Mountain near the centre of the parish and at an elevation of about 1,200 feet above the level of the sea. It flows southerly for 5 1/2 miles and discharges itself into the Braid River near Broughshane at a distance of 6 miles from its mouth and at a level of 217 feet above the sea.
The Artogues Water (Ballymena River) at Broughshane
Its average fall is 1 foot in 26 feet, average breadth 11 feet and average depth about 1 foot. Its bed is mostly gravelly, but in many places rocky. Its banks are low and it frequently overflows them, but commits no injury nor makes any deposit. It is usefully situated for machinery, drainage and irrigation.
About a mile north of Ballymena Fort and in the townland of the same name there is a remarkable waterfall known by the name of the Black Rack, below which the river has cut its passage in a very singular manner through a solid basaltic rock. At the waterfall the river becomes about 6 feet wide, runs over a step of about 10 feet below the top of the rock and falls about 18 feet, where a dark [ ] and narrow varying in breadth from 3 to 6 feet extends for about 60 yards. So regularly are its sides formed that they appear as if artificially formed. After extending the distance above mentioned the passage gradually opens and the cliff becomes lost in the steep banks bounding the river. Near Oakland the course of this river is again interrupted by a basaltic ledge which produces (?) a fall of about 14 feet.
A small stream called the Cleggan River takes its rise south of Sworne’s Hill at an elevation of about 1,150 feet above the sea.
The Cleggan River:
It flows southward for 31/4 miles and discharges itself into the Braid River [ ] miles from its mouth and at an elevation of 318 feet above the sea: Its average fall is 1 foot in 20 feet; its average breadth 11 feet and average depth about 9 inches. It is applicable to machinery, drainage and irrigation. It is subject to floods which soon subside and do no mischief. Its bed is gravelly and rocky and its banks mostly low.
This parish is amply supplied [with] spring and soft (?) waters.
There is a spa well 200 yards East of Knockan Bridge and near the Braid River.
Bogs: The bogs of this parish are to be found at elevations ranging from 1,431 to 200 feet above the level of the sea. The mountains are covered with a coat of bog varying in depth from 2 to 20 feet.
Its subsoil is sometimes blue or reddish clay but frequently a rocky substratum occurs. Much of the bog in the mountains is flood and a great deal of it very swampy and dangerous. At the southern corner of the parish it is covered with a dense and deep coat of heath moss and bilberry bushes, so thick that cattle could not make their way through it. It is however dry and the ground firm. These mountainous bogs are very little cut and very little known of them or as to the manner in which timber occurs in them. In the sides or edges of gulleys worn by Torrents, stumps of fir have occasionally been found and also in cutting drains and meerings and it is very probable that there is fir timber in their most elevated points.
In the low ground there are numerous small patches of bog, the bottom or subsoil of which usually gravel or sometimes clay. In these fir is found in some quantities and in almost every direction and position except the stumps which are always standing. On the subsoil oak trunks and stumps, but chiefly the latter, are always found. There is not however anything peculiar in these bogs or particularly deserving of notice or description.
Woods: The only remains of natural wood now growing in this parish are to be met with along the foot of the mountains and in the little dells and gorges formed by the streams in the mountains. Along the bank of the Clogh River at an elevation of 700 feet above the sea, oak, hazel, ash, holly and birch are to be found; the bushes however are stunted and only a few feet high.
Along the banks of the Ballymena or Artogues Water from an elevation of 100 feet down to that of 360 feet above the sea, brushwood consisting principally of hazel with some ash birch and holly is to be found.
Thinly scattered patches of it are to be found in almost every townland in the parish, particularly in the more rocky and uncultivated parts and there is every evidence in this and in the quantity of timber found in the bogs that this parish has been at one time well wooded.
Climate: In the low grounds the climate of this parish differs little from that of Racavan. In the mountains the climate is wet and very subject to dense fogs and mists which after continuing for some time generally end in rain. They are very prejudicial to the crops on the sides of the mountains and hinder them from ripening for from 2 to 4 weeks after those in the low grounds. It may be that the mountains in this parish being the South extremity of a high ridge are probably the first visited by the vapours wafted by the South wind from Lough Neagh and by the West wind from the river Bann and which vapours being [ ] attracted (?) are soon condensed.
Section 2: Modern Topography
Towns: There is neither town nor village in the parish. The town of Broughshane adjoins its southern side. The only public building in the parish is the Roman Catholic Chapel in the townland of Breckagh and at the foot of the mountains. It is quite plain, 30 feet long and 16 feet wide and capable of accommodating about 150 persons. It is not fitted up with seats. It is said this is the second Roman Catholic Chapel erected in the County.
Tullymore (in the townland of the same name) the residence of the Honourable Major General O’Neill M.P. is situated within 1 mile N.W. of the town of Broughshane.
Whitehall the residence of John White Esq situated 3/4 mile north of Broughshane and in the townland of Correen.
Knockboy the seat of Mr. Davison Y2 mile N.W. of Broughshane and in the townland of Knockboy Glencairn in the townland of Carnkeeran the residence of the Rev. W. Crawford, Rector of the Parish 3/4 mile east of Broughshane.
Bushy Field in the townland of Knockboy the residence of the Rev. Robert Stewart 1 mile north of Broughshane.
Oakfield in the townland of Ballymena 11/1 mile N.E. of Broughshane uninhabited.
Cleggan in the townland of the same name and 5 miles N.E. of Broughshane a shooting lodge of Earl O’Neill. It is prettily situated on a rising ground near the mountain foot and is built in the cottage style. It is surrounded by extensive plantations chiefly consisting of fir and larch and extends over about 200 acres. Ash, oak and beech worth £50 are cut down annually to thin it.
All these residences are pleasantly situated at the foot of the mountains. There is a considerable quantity of ornamental planting about them which contributes greatly to the appearance of the country. They are all nice residences and mostly modern but there is nothing striking nor worthy of description in their appearance or architecture.
Manufactory Mills etc.: There is one bleach green in the parish. The spread field extends over 18 acres.
Courtesy: National Library of Ireland
The beetling mill attached to it is propelled by a breast water wheel 24 feet in diameter and 4 feet broad and a second beetling mill by a breast water wheel 18 feet in diameter and 4 feet broad. The bleach greens are in the townland of Correen.
There is a linen yarn factory and machinery for hackling flax and carding tow in the townland of Knockboy. The machinery is propelled by a breast water wheel 47 feet in diameter and 4 feet broad. The beetling mill in the same townland by a breast water wheel 18 feet by 4 feet 4 inches. feet 4 inches.
The beetling mill in Tullymore 24 by 4 feet. Cornmill in Tullymore 14 feet by 4.
Cornmill in Knockboy 13 feet by 2 feet 8 inches.
Communications: There are 3 main roads which traverse this parish. They are kept in repair by the barony. The materials used in repairing them are whinstone (chiefly), greenstone, the softer kinds of basalt and sometimes river gravel all of which are abundant.
The main roads are that to Ballymena to Glenarm through Broughshane. There are 4 1 miles of it passing through the southern side of the parish; its average breadth is 22 feet. It is in tolerable order and except at Cleggan is tolerably level.
Four and a half miles of the road from Broughshane to Ballymoney traverse the southern end of the parish. This road is in pretty good order but as it passes over a ridge 700 feet above the streams which flow along its base on either side it is unavoidably hilly. It runs almost in a right line but its direction might be much improved. Its average breadth is 21 feet.
The road from Broughshane to Cushendall passes through the parish near its centre. There are six miles of this road. It is unavoidably hilly but in pretty good repair. The bye roads are sufficient in every respect. They are also kept in repair by the barony.
View of Cargan from the Broughshane – Cushendall Road.
The principal bridges are 3 over the river Braid communicating with the parish of Racavan and 2 bridges over the Clogh River…
General appearances and scenery: Except along its southern and western sides the parish is wholly mountainous and uncultivated and almost uninhabited.
The mountain scenery is beautifully wild and rather bold and the rich and ornamented grounds along its southern border studded with gentlemen’s seats and diversified with numerous and extensive plantations form a highly finished and romantic landscape. The southern side of this parish forms the northern of the valley of the Braid from the western extremity of which the view of it is exceedingly wild and picturesque.
Section 3: Social Economy.
Early improvements. The lower and more fertile parts of this parish are inhabited [by] the decendants of the Scottish settlers of the 16th and 17th centuries, while the Glens in the mountains are peopled by the native Irish, many of whom still speak the Irish language. Amongst the latter the names of O’Neill and McQuillan are numerous while among the former that of Stewart, Camp [b] ell etc are commonly found. There is also a difference of manner between them. The Irish are more courteous, humble and warm in the manner and expressions than the Scots, who are blunt, obstinate and less civil in their manners and mode of expression. In their habitations however the Scots have the advantage as they are much more tidy, snug and comfortable than the Irish of similiar circumstances and opportunities, the latter being generally careless and negligent of comfort or neatness. However of late years the manners and customs of both families have approximated and no doubt they have mutually benefited by their intercourse with each other. Of the two the Irish have profited the more as the Scots seem unchanged in their manners and dialect while those of the Irish who inhabit the more fertile and lower grounds can scarcely be distinguished from their neighbours. In the mountains however this difference is very striking, both as to dialect, idioms, customs, manners and mode of living. The Irish seem to live much more poorly and to be apparently less comfortable than the Scots who are in general pretty comfortable.
If traditions be believed, improvements commenced at a very early period in this parish which is said to have been the abode of St. Patrick and the scene of many of his pious acts. Skerry Church, the ruins of which still remain is said to have been built by him and on a stone near it are shown the prints of his knees. The people however must have subsequently relapsed in their former state of ignorance as within memory the Irish have very much improved and it is therefore probable that their intercourse with Scottish settlers has tended more to their improvement and civilisation than any other event.
Obstructions to improvement: Earls O’Neill and Mountcashell possess the greater part of this parish. The tenants of the former are in general embarrassed from their lands being set at a rent which they are unable to pay and consequently do not. The leases also are much too short, to encourage or admit of a tenant improving his farm.
Local Government: There are neither magistrates, police, manor courts nor petty sessions. No outrages of any kind and little or no illicit distillation, it having decreased much of late years. There are few fire or life insurances.
Dispensary: There is no dispensary in this parish; there formerly was one [at] Broughshane, in the adjoining parish of Racavan of which the people in this parish had the benefit. They are healthy and no contagious or infectious diseases prevail.
Schools: Schools have done good in this parish and are gladly resorted to. There is more taste for education and information among the people in the mountains than might be expected from the appearance of themselves and their residences.
Poor: There is no regular provision for the poor in this parish. It is one of the few Northern parishes to which the introduction of Poor Laws would be [n] either useful nor applicable, as the population are almost entirely of the working class. There are certainly a few resident gentry, but few of the ordinary class of farmers and the people being so much of the same grade or rank as to circumstances cannot be expected to support those who from age or infirmity are unable to support themselves. The two great landed proprietors (Earls O’Neill and Mountcashell) contribute but very little to the charitable funds of this parish.
There is a Clothing Society in Broughshane, of which the poor in this parish enjoy the benefit (see parish of Racavan for a description of this Society).
Religion: The proportions are [ ]
`This parish is episcopally united to that of Racavan
`There is no place of worship in it except the Roman Catholic Chapel in the townland of Breckagh; the priest of which is supported in the usual manner by his flock.’
`The Presbyterians pay their stipend to the Ministers of the Meeting Houses which they attend in the parish of Racavan.’
Racavan Townland (with Slemish in the background)
Habits of the people: The inhabitants of this parish are very industrious particularly those along the mountain foot, where though the soil is exceedingly rocky and sterile, their exertions are gradually overcoming the difficulties opposed to them and enormous rocky hillocks may be seen rising in the midst of the most cultivated part. Cultivation is gradually creeping up the sides [of the] mountains and the aspects of the country is increasing owing to their exertions.
Many of them are employed at the Messrs Davison, Cotton (?) Yarn Factory and all of them possess a little land generally from one to three (?) acres and at the same time are engaged in the manufacture of linen. They do not want for employment and the wages they obtain are better than formerly. They have therefore sufficient for their present support. They are in general sober, honest and peaceable. Those in the mountains are very domestic, warmhearted and hospitable. The women spin more from an aversion to idleness than from anything they can make by it.
In their habitations there is a great variety. Those in the mountains and near the east end of the valley of the Braid being dirty and untidy while those in the lower and more thickly inhabited part of the Country are tolerably neat and comfortable and very little inferior to or different from those in Racavan parish.
Their food differs very little from that of the inhabitants of Racavan, perhaps indeed the people in the mountains in this parish eat more potatoes and less meal. In the mountains where cattle are much reared they use a great deal of milk. Turf is very abundant and they burn large fires.
The air of the mountains is considered very pure and the inhabitants in general live to a long age and persons of from 70 to 80 may be found in each townland. Six is the usual number in a family. In the mountains they marry early; on the low grounds and among the Scots not so early.
Their amusements are dancing and going to fairs and markets. They do not indulge so much as formerly in the former. At christenings and weddings they indulge in drinking and carousing and celebrate these events with great festivity.
The people in the mountains are very superstitious and relate many marvellous and absurd stories of St. Patrick as also about fairies, enchantments, ghosts. The old men and women will tell these stories to any person as long as they will listen to them and to express any doubt as to their veracity is considered a sure indication of ignorance.
The neighbourhood of Collin mountain is said by them to have been the residence of a King previous to the coming of St. Patrick and a small stream which flows from it into this parish is still called the Owen Glenree River and numberless are the anecdotes related of this King and his family.
View from Collin Top
At fairs and markets they dress very neatly though not with quite so much taste as the people in the lower districts of the Country. Their dress clothes last them for a long time, and many of them wear a hat for from 6 to 7 years. Except at fairs and markets and on Sundays the women go bare footed and dress badly, particularly in the mountains when a drugget petticoat and a short calico bed gown constitutes their apparel.
They have not any local customs, nor peculiar games. There is a holy well in Loughloughan townland which is said to possess miraculous properties and formerly was resorted to from all parts but is now almost totally neglected.
Emigration: There is now very little emigration from this parish. It formerly did prevail and from 30 to 40 annually went either to Canada or the United States of America but chiefly to the former. Not more than 10 on an average now annually emigrate and none of these take money capital out of the Country as they are chiefly of the working class, whose friends having been some years out have made money and send for their relatives in this Country.
The Roman Catholics are particularly attached to their native land and unless compelled by necessity seldom leave it for a foreign land. Many of them who have settled in America or Scotland, when they imagine the approach of death return (if they can) that they may leave their bones in their native soil.
Few if any go to the Scotch or English harvests. This practice also is decreasing partly from want of encouragement and from being better off at home than formerly.
Remarkable events: None,if the deeds of St. Patrick about Skerry Church be excepted and these more properly belong to ancient history.
JAMES BOYLE’S TABLE OF SCHOOLS
Little Ballymena: Established 1829, annual income £3 from the London Hibernian Society and £11 from pupils. Library of 100 volumes given by the above Society, school book of same. Moral education: occasional visits from clergy, Authorised Version of the Scriptures daily. Under 10: 11 males, 8 females. From 10 to 15: 8 males, 4 females. Total: 30. 4 Protestants, 24 Presbyterians, 2 Roman Catholics. The teacher is James Watt, Presbyterian.
Knockboy: Established 1832, annual income £5 from Earl Mountcashel, £5 from pupils. Sewing, spelling, reading, writing are taught, books are from the London Hibernian Society, moral education: as above. Males: none. Females: 11 under 10, 9 between 10 and 15, 20 in all, 3 Protestants, 15 Presbyterians, 2 Roman Catholics. Teacher: Mrs. Ogg, Protestant.
Killygore: House unsuitable, placed under the Synod of Ulster, 1836. Income from this body as yet unknown, £10 from pupils. Reading, writing and arithmetic taught, books by various authors. Moral education: as above. Under 10: 6 males,. 5 females. From 10 to 15: 7 males, 4 females. Over 15: 1 male. There are 4 Protestants, 17 Presbyterians and 2 Roman Catholics. The teacher is John Speers, Presbyterian.
Note: I have taken the average attendance during the past year derived from the books of the school or where such are not kept, from the authority of the teacher.
(Signed) James Boyle, 4 February 1837.