Donegal County, 1837Donegal
|DONEGAL (County of), a maritime county of the province of ULSTER, bounded on the east and south-east by the counties of Londonderry, Tyrone, and Fermanagh, from the first-named of which it is separated by Lough Foyle; on the south, by the northern extremity of the county of Leitrim and by Donegal bay, and on the west and north by the Atlantic ocean. It extends from 54° 28' to 55° 20' (N. Lat.), and from 6° 48' to 8° 40' (W. Lon.); comprising, according to the Ordnance survey, a surface of 1,165,107 statute acres, of which 520,736 are cultivated land, and 644,371 unimproved mountain and bog. The population, in 1821, was 248,270 and in 1831, 291,104.
In the time of Ptolemy it was inhabited by the Vennicnii and the Rhobogdii, the latter of whom also occupied part of the county of Londonderry. The Promontorium Vennicnium of this geographer appears to have been Ram's Head of Horn Head, near Dunfanaghy; and the Promontorium Rhobogdium, Malin Head, the most northern point of the peninsula of Innisoen or Ennishowen. The county afterwards formed the northern part of the district of Eircael or Eargal, which extended into the county of Fermanagh, and was known for several centuries as the country of the ancient and powerful sept of the O'Donells, descended, according to the Irish writers, from Conall Golban, son of Neil of the Nine Hostages, monarch of Ireland, who granted to his son the region now forming the county of Donegal. Hence it acquired the name of Tyr-Conall, modernised into Tyrconnel or Tirconnel, "the land of Conall," which it retained till the reign of Jas. I. The family was afterwards called Kinel Conall, or the descendants or tribe of Conall Fergus Ceanfadda, the son of the founder, had a numerous progeny, among whom were Sedna, ancestor of the O'Donells, and Felin, father of St. Cohunt. Cinfaeladh, fourth in descent from Ceanfadda, had three sons, one of whom was Muldoon, the more immediate ancestor of the O'Donells; and another, Fiamhan, from whom the O'Dohertys, lords of Innisoen (Innishowen or Ennishowen), derive their descent. A second Cinfaeladh, eighth in descent from Fergus Ceanfadda, was father of Dalagh, from whom the O'Donells are sometimes styled by the Irish annalists Sioi na Dallagh, the sept of Daly, or the O'Dalys. Enoghaine, his eldest son, was father of Donell, from whom the ruling family took the surname it has borne ever since. His great grandson, Cathban, chief of the sept in the reign of Brian Boroimhe (Brian Boru), first assumed the name of O'Donell as chief, which was adopted by all his subjects and followers. Besides the O'Dohertys, the septs of O'Boyle, Mac Sweeney, and several others were subordinate to the O'Donnells of Tyrconnel. The chiefaincy of Nial Garbh, who succeeded his father Turlogh an Fhiona in 1422, was the commencement of a sanguinary era of internal discord aggravated by external warfare. This chieftain, after having endured much opposition from his brother Neachtan, and maintained continual hostilities with the English, by whom he was at length taken prisoner, died in captivity.
The first effort of importance made by the English to subjugate this territory commenced by their seizure of the convent of Donegal and a castle of the O'Boyles, giving them a temporary command over the adjacent territory, from all which they were quickly expelled by the celebrated Hugh Roe, or Red Hugh, O'Donell, who succeeded to the chieftaincy in 1592. This powerful toparch, at an early period of his government, marched into Tir Owen against Tirlogh Luineagh O'Neil, chief of the sept of the same anme and a partizan of the English, whom O'Donell, although he had recently entered into terms of amity with the Lord-Justice of Ireland, expelled from his principality in 1593, forced him to resign the title of O'Neil in favour of Hugh, Earl of Tyrone, and afterwards compelled the whole province of Ulster to acknowledge his superiority and pay him tribute. He then sent an embassy to the king of Spain to aid him in the total expulsion of the English, and having obtained a reinforcement of mercenaries from Scotland, carried on a successful war far beyond the limits of his own territory.
The English government, after various disasters, paricularly the defeat of Sir Conyers Clifford in the Curlew mountains, resolved to trasfer the seat of war into O'Donell's country, for which purpose a large fleet, having on board a force of six thousand well-appointed troops, was sent from Dublin under the command of Sir Henry Doewra. Having landed in Ennishowen in the summer of 1600, they possessed themselves of the forts of Culmore, Dunnalong, and Derry. Each of these fortresses was immediately invested by O'Donell, who, while his troops maintained the blockade, made two expeditions into Connaught and Munster. During his absence, his brother-in-law, Nial O'Donnel, and his brothers were prevailed upon to join the English, and to give them possession of Lifford, which they fortified. Here also they were hemmed in by the Irish, as likewise at the monastery of Donegal, which they had afterwards gained. The landing of the Spaniards in the south caused a total suspension of arms in Ulster, and the subsequent defeat of the invaders at Kinsale compelled O'Donell to proceed to Spain in quest of further succours, where he died in September, 1602, being the last chief of the sept universally acknowledged as the O'Donell.
On the attainder in 1612 of Rory O'Donell, to whom Jas. I. had given the title of Earl of Tyrconnell and the greater part of the family possessions, the district, which had been erected into a county called Donegal, by Sir John Perrot, in 1584, was included by that king in his plan for the plantation of Ulster. By the survey then taken, the whole county was found to contain 110,700 acres of cultivable, or, as it was styled, profitable land. Of these, the termon lands, containing 9160 acres, were assigned to the bishoprick of Raphoe, to which they had previously belonged; 3680 acres were allotted for the bishop's mensal lands; 6600 acres for glebe to the incumbents of the 87 parishes into which the county was to be divided; 9824 acres of monastery lands to the college of Dublin (Trinity College); 300 acres in Culmore fort; 1000 acres to Ballyshannon, and 1024 acres, named the Inch, to Sir Ralph Bingley. The remainder, amounting to 79,074 acres, were to be divided among the settlers or undertakers, as they were called, in 62 portions, 40 of 1000 acres, 13 of 1500, and 9 of 2000 each, with a certain portion of wood, bog, and mountain, to constitute a parish. Of these portions, 38 were to be granted to English and Scotch undertakers, 9 to servitors, and 15 to natives. The 2204 acres still undisposed of were to be given to corporate towns to be erected and entitled to send burgesses to parliament, 800 to Derry, and 200 each to Killybegs, Donegal, and Rath: Lifford had 500 acres previously assigned to it. The residue of 604 acres was to be equally allotted to free schools at Derry and Donegal. All fisheries were reserved to the Crown. The distributive portions thus assigned do not correspond with the general total above stated, and the proposed provisions both as to distribution and regulation were far from being rigidly observed in practice.
The county is chiefly in the diocese of Raphoe, but parts of it extend into those of Derry and Clogher. For purposes of civil jurisdiction it is divided into the baronies of Raphoe, Kilmacrenan, Ennishowen, Tyrhugh, Bannagh and Boylagh. It contains the disfranchised borough, sea-port and market-towns of Ballyshannon, Donegal, and Killybegs; the disfranchised borough and market-town of Lifford; the disfranchised borough of St. Johnstown; the market and post-towns of Letterkenny, Ramelton, Raphoe, Carn, Stranorlar, Buncrana, and Moville Upper; the post-towns of Castlefin, Dunfanaghy, Ardara, Dungloe, and Narin, and several other small towns and villages, of which Bundoran, Mount-Charles, and Rathmullen have each a penny post. Prior to the union the county sent 12 members to parliament; two for the county at large, and two for each of the above-named boroughs, but, subsequently, it has been represented by the two county members only, who are elected at Lifford. The number of voters registered in January, 1836, was 1745; of whom 181 were free-holders of £50, 169 of £20, and 1159 of £10 per ann.; 33 clergymen of £50, and 1 of £20, being the free-holds of their respective benefices; 1 rent-charger of £50, and 10 of £20; and 48 leaseholders of £20, and 143 of £10. It is included in the north-western circuit. Lifford, where the county gaol and court-house are situated, is the assize town; quarter sessions are held four times in the year at Donegal, twice at Letterkenny, and once at Lifford and Buncrana. There are bridewells at Letterkenny and Donegal, and session-houses at each of those places and at Buncrana. The local government is vested in a lieutenant, 19 deputy-lieutenants, and 66 other magistrates, with the usual county officers. The number of persons charged with criminal offences and committed, in 1835, was 472, and of civil bill commitments, 49. There are 29 contabulary police stations, having a force of one stipendiary magistrate, 7 chief and 30 subordinate constables and 116 men, with nine horses, the expense of whose maintenance is defrayed by equal Grand Jury presentments and by Government. The district lunatic asylum is in Londonderry and the county infirmary at Lifford. There are dispensaries at Lifford, Ballintra, Raphoe, Taughboyne, Killybegs, Moville, Clonmany, Killygarvan, Kilmacrenan, Kilcar, Letterkenny, Donegal, Muff, Culdaff, Stranorlar, Rutland, Donagh, Killygorden, Dunkaneely, Ramelton, Buncrana, Carcygart, Ballyshannon, Dunfanaghy, and Mount-Charles, maintained by voluntary subscriptions and Grand Jury presentments in equal proportions. The amount of Grand Jury presentments for 1835 was £27,609. 1. 4., of which £163. 10. was for the public roads of the county at large; £14,799. 2. 4. for the public roads, being the baronial charge; £5301. 18. 11½. for public buildings and charities, officers' salaries, &c.; £3480. 10. 3. for police; and £3863. 19. 9½. in repayment of a loan advanced by Government. In the military arrangements the county is in the northern district. There are infantry barracks at Lifford and Ballyshannon, and artillery forts at Greencastle, Inch island, Rutland island, and at several places along the shores of Lough Swilly, each of which, except Greencastle, is garrisoned by a single gunner.
Donegal is the most western of the three northern counties of Ireland. The surface, which is much varied, may be arranged into two great divisions of mountains and champaign. The latter, which is subdivided into two portions by the Barnesmore mountains, comprises the barony of Raphoe and the maritime parts of that of Tyrhugh, round Ballyshannon and Donegal. The mountain region, comprehending all the remainder of the county, is interspersed with fertile valleys and tracts of good land, especially in the baronies of Kilmacrenan and Ennishowen. The most elevated mountains are Errigal, which, according to the Ordnance survey, rises 2463 feet above the level of the sea; Blue Stack, 2213 feet; Dooish West, 2143; Slieve Snaght, 2019; Silver Hill, 1967; Slieve League, 1964; and Aghla, 1958. There are also five others which have an elevation of more than 1500 feet, and twelve more exceeding 1000 feet in height. The most improved and populous district is that on the borders of the rivers Fin and Swilly, and the eastern confines near Lifford. In the western champaign district, between Ballintra and Ballyshannon, the surface is in many places moory, heathy and rocky, particularly near the south-east, where ar a distance of three of four miles from the sea it rises into a tract of mountains ten or twelve miles broad, which sweeps round by Pettigo, Lough Derg, and the confines of Fermanagh; from these a range extends westward by Killybegs to Tellen Head, whence a vast expanse stretches by Rutland, the Rosses, and the shores of the Atlantic, across Loughs Swilly and Foyle, into the counties of Londonderry and Antrim. From Barnesmore to Donegal and Ballintra, the country is composed of bleak hills, many of which, though high, are covered with a sweet and profitable vegetation, while several points in the ascent from Killybegs into the mountains of the north present fine views of the bay and harbour of that port. Even amidst the wilds of Boylagh and Bannagh are cultivated and well-peopled valleys, but the district of the Rosses presents mostly a desolate waste. On its western side is a region of scattered rocks and hills, some on the mainland, others insulated: the larger of these rocks are thinly covered with peat and moss; a few admit of some degree of cultivation, while almost all the innumerable smaller rocks are entirely bare. Collectively, this group is known by the name of the islands of the Rosses. Arranmore, the largest, containing about 600 acres, is about two miles from the mainland; on Innis Mac Durn is the little town of Rutland; the largest of the rest are Irvan, Inniskeera, Inisfree, Owey and Gruit. Northward of the Rosses lies the district of Cloghanealy, in Kilmacrenan, entirely composed of disjointed rocks and dark heath, except where, at a lesser elevation near the sea, a stunted sward appears. On the northern coast, about five miles from the shore, is the island of Tory. The peninsula of Rossuill, formed by the bays of Sheephaven and Mulroy, and that of Fannet by Mulroy and Lough Swilly, are of similar character, except that in the latter the mountains attain a greater altitude, are separated by larger and more fertile valleys, and command prospects of such extent and variety as to attract visiters from distant parts. Lough Swilly, an arm of the sea penetrating far into the land, and receiving at its southern extremity the river from which it derives its name, has on its western shores a tract of rich arable soil losing itself gradually in the mountains, while its eastern side presents a tract of similar character extending towards Derry, under the general denominations of Blanket-nook and Laggan. To the north of the city of Londonderry lies the barony of Ennishowen, a large peninsula bounded on the east and west by the bulgs of Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly. It consists of a central group of mountains with a border of cultivation verging to the water's edge: in the mountains of Glentogher is an expanse of 4000 acres of peat and heath. Besides the great inlets on the northern coast already noticed, the shores and indented with numerous small recesses. The islands, except some of those of the Rosses, are very small, the principal being Rockiburn island, off Tellen Head; Inisbarnog, off Lochrusmore bay; Roanmish, off Iniskeel; Gold island, Inismanan, Inis-Irhir, Inisbeg, Inisduh, and Inis-bofin, off Kilmacrenan barony; and Seal island, Ennistrahull and the Garvilands, off Ennishowen.
The lakes are numerous but small. The principal are Lough Derg, near the southern boundary of the county, celegrated for St. Patrick's Purgatory, a place of annual resort for numerous pilgrims, the particulars of which will be found in the account of Templecarne parish; and Lough Esk, near Donegal, a fine expanse of water environed with wild and romantic scenery. The others are Loughs Fin and Mourne (the head waters of rivers of the same name), Salt, Glen, Muck, Barra, Bee, Killeen, Broden, Veagh, Cartan, Dale, Kest, Fern, Golagh, and Nuire, with several others round the base of Slieve Snaght mountain; one near Dobeg, in Fannet; others in the Rosses, and others near Nairn, Ardara, Glenona, Glenleaghan, Lettermacaward, Brown Hall, Ballyshannon and elsewhere.
The climate was formerly cold and unhealthy, with an incessant humidity of atmosphere; but the drainage of some of the lakes and marshes, and the lowering of the levels and deepening of the beds of several rivers, during late years, have produced very beneficial change, both as to the health of the inhabitants and the increase of arable land: the soils are very various: the richest are those of the champaign district in the south-east. Near Leitrim county it is deep, coarse, and sometimes incumbered with rushes, but in the vicinity of Ballyshannon it assumes a richer character. The change arises from the subsoil, here limestone, the bed of which extends to the neighbourhood of Donegal, supporting a light, vravelly, brown soil; thence to the mountains of Boylagh and Bannagh the soil gradually deteriorates, having a brown clay and rubbly substratum. From Dunkanealy to Killybegs and to Tellen Head the soil of the cultivable glens is a light gravelly till, resting on variously coloured earths and rocks; while that of the mountain region, with the exception of a few green spots, consists of a thin surface of peat on a substratum of coarse quartz gravel, under which are found variously coloured clays, based for the most part upon granite. The soil of the little dales in Fannet is a brown gravelly mould, or a kind of till based on gravel, soft freestone or clay-slate of various colours: but both here and at Horn head, to the west of Sheep Haven, the drifting sands, impelled by the gales from the Atlantic, have covered much good land. The soil of the arable lands of Ennishowen is mostly similar to that of those last described.
The chief tillage district is the barony of Raphoe, in which, besides potatoes, wheat, oats, and barley, flax is grown and manufactured largely. From Ballyshannon to Donegal and Killybegs tillage is general; and in Boylagh and Bannagh much land is now under cultivation, though formerly scarcely cufficient was tilled to supply the inhabitants with potatoes and grain. Oats and potatoes, the former chiefly for distillation, are the principal crops throughout the mountainous districts; but latterly the growth of barley and flax has been encouraged. Agriculture, as a system, however, is not much practised except among the resident gentry, by whom great improvements are annually made. They have formed and strenuously support farming societies, have awarded premiums, and recommended improved implements and a better rotation of crops. The effects of their exertions shew themselves in a very striking manner in the baronies of Raphoe and Tyrhugh, in each of which there is a farming society, which has been attended with very beneficial effects; wheat has been raised in both these baronies with the greatest success. Ballyshannon formerly imported flour to the amount of several thousand pounds annually; during the last two years, considerable quantities of wheat were exported. Turnips, vetches, mangel-wurzel and other green crops are common. In the two last-named baronies the fences, also, have been much improved: they are now generally formed of quickset hedges, while in most other parts, except the north of Ennishowen, they are sode ditches of dry stone walls. The iron plough is in general use among the gentry and larger farmers, but the old cumbrous wooden plough is still used in many parts. The angular barrow is becoming very general, and all other kinds of agricultural implements are gradually improving. A light one-horse cart, with iron-bound spoke wheels, has nearly superseded the old wooden wheel car, and the slide car is seldom seen out of the mountain districts, in which the implements are still rude in construction and few in number, consisting, on many farms, merely of the loy (a spade with a rest for the foot on one side only), the steveen (a pointed stake for setting potatoes), and the sickle. Good grasses of every species grow in the champaign tracts; but in the mountains they are coarse and bad. Cattle, which hav ebeen fed for twelve months on the latter, where the vegetation consists of aquatic grasses, rushes, and heath, are seized with a disorder called the cruppan, a sort of ague that is cured only by removal to better herbage; yeat the change of pasture, if long continued, gives rise to another disease, galled the galar, no less fatal, unless by a timely removal to the former soil. Even the pastures of the champaign parts are unfit for fattening and are therefore used only for grazing sheep, young cattle, and milch cows. A peculiar herbage, called sweet-grass, formed of joints from two to three yards in length, grows on the shores of Innisfree, several feet under the high water mark of spring tides, to which the cattle run instinctively at the time of ebb. In Raphoe, irrigation is general. Besides the composts usually collected for manure, lime is in universal demand. In the maritime district from Ballyshannon to Killybegs, sea-weed and shelly sand are the chief manures; throughout the mountains, sea-corac alone, except on the grounds of a few gentlemen where lime is used. The character of the cattle has been much improved by the introduction of the English and Scotch breeds, paricularly the Durham, Leicester, and Ayrshire. A cross between the Durham and old Irish produces an animal very superior in appearance, but not found to thrive. The favourite a present is a cross between the old Leicester and the Limerick, which, being again crossed by the North Devon, or Herford, grows to a large size and fattens rapidly. The breed of pigs has also been greatly improved; when fattened, they are by some sent to market alive, by others slaughtered at home and the carcases carried to Strabane or Londonderry for the provision merchants there. Fowl and eggs in large quantities are transmitted to the sea-ports for exportation.
The county is very bare of wood, though there is some good ornamental timber in many of the demesnes, and young plantations, formed in several places, are very thriving. Well stocked orchards and gardens are to be met with round many of the farm-houses in Raphoe.
Granite forms the summit of all the mountains, and with the new red sandstone, rests on a substratum of limestone mostly of the primitive formation and containing no organic remains, although secondary limestone abounds in several parts. The limestone is found through all the level districts near the sea and elsewhere, and in the mountains forming the manors of Burleigh and Orwell. On the eastern shore of Lough Swilly, and in some other parts of Ennishowen, is found a species of calcarous argillite, having the appearance of grey limestone, but containing too much silex to burn freely. Round Carndonagh, in the same barony, is a dark blue limestone of superiour quality. Many species of valuable marble have been discovered. One of these, of a pure white, free from flaws or discolouration, and capable of being raised in blocks of any dimension at a trifling expense, has been found in the Rosses; but the want of roads, though the quarries are at a short distance from the sea, prevents its exportation. Grey and black marble of very fine quality have also been found. Little advantage has hitherto been derived from any of the other mineral productions. Lead ore has been discovered in several places in the barony of Boylagh; in the river flowing from the mountain of Killybetgs; on the surface near the western shore of Loughnabroden; at the foot of the Derryveagh mountains; in the Barra river; in Arran-more and other parts of the Rosses; and at Kieldrum, in the barony of Kilmacrenan, where there is a considerable deposit of ore collected for a lead-work which was carried on a few years since, but discontinued as being unprofitable from the want of experienced miners. Copper ore and iron pyrites may be traced in Errigal and Muckish mountains, and detached masses are found in several of the mountain streams and near Ballyshannon. Both these ores are abundant; and in several other parts the numerous vitriolic springs indicate larger deposits. Iron ore abounds in several parts. As long as fuel could be procured from the forests of Donegal, Derryveagh, Slievedoon and Kilmacrenan, the mines were wrought and the ore smelted. The remains of bloomeries are often met with in the mountains and the foundations of forges near some of the rivers. Manganese is also abundant. Coal appears in a thin seam at Dromore, on the shore of Lough Swilly, and indications of it are frequent in Innishowen, but no attempts have yet been made to raise it. The same remark applies to steatite or soap-stone, here called "camstone," though found in abundance in all the mountains of Kilmacrenan and Bannagh: it is mostly of a bright sea-green colour. At Drumarda, on the shores of Lough Swilly, on Tory island, and in the Rosses, are extensive beds of potter's clay, which is used in a small degree in manufacturing coarse pottery. Pipe clay and other kinds of useful clays are found frequently, but little used. Silcious sand of a very superior kind is abundant at Lough Salt, and in the Ards, whence considerable quantities are exported for the manufacture of glass. Excellent slates are raised near Letterkenny, Buncrana, and in some other places.
The manufacture of linen cloth of every kind of texture, chiefly from home-raised flax, is carried on to a considerable extent. Several bleach-greens are in full operation, and an extensive factory has been recently established at Buncrana. Cotton cords, velveteens, fustians, and checks are woven to a considerable extent for exportation, as are friezes for home consumption. Woollen stockings of excellent quality, manufactured in the barony of Boylagh, are in great demand. Whiskey is made very largely both in licensed and unlicensed distilleries: the latter are chiefly in the Rosses, Boyalgh, and Ennishowen, which last place has long been celebrated for the quality of the spirit produced there.
The north-western coast fisheries are chiefly confined to Donegal. They had declined greatly for many years in consequence of the herring, the chief object of capture, haing deserted the coast. In 1830 it was ascertained that the shoals had returned, and the fishery consequently revived, insomuch that the value of the take in 1834 exceeded £50,000, and in the two succeeding seasons has been still greater. The coast every where affords the means of an abundant summer fishing; but the want of proper boats and tackle deters the fishermen from venturing to struggle against the stormy seas that break upon the shores during the winter. The white fishing for cod, ling, haddock, and glassen, and that of turbot and other flat fish, all of which are in inexhaustible abundance, is little attended to beyond the supply of the neighbourhood. The sun fish resorts hither and is sometimes taken. Seals are caught in large numbers in Strabreagy by and near Malin. There are several salmon fisheries: the principal is that on the Erne at Ballyshannon; there are others in Loughs Foyle and Swilly and in some of the smaller bays. Eel and trout abound in all the lakes and rivers.
The bays and harbours are numerous, capacious, and safe. The principal are Lough Foyle, forming the entrance to the port of Londonderry and navigable for vessels of the largest draught to that city, and by lighters of 20 tons' burden to Lifford, and thence by the Fin-water to Castlefin; the small but secure bay of Strabreagy, well sheltered by Malin Head; Lough Swilly, the entrance to which is safe and easy; Mulroy; Sheephaven; the numerous inlets of the Rosses; Buibarra and Loughros bays, and the capacious bay of Donegal, containing within its scope the smaller harbour of Ballyshannon, on the improvement of which several thousand pounds have been expended by Col. Connolly.
The principal rivers are the Foyle, the Swilly, and the Erne. The first-named, and by far the most important in a commerical point of view, rises in Lough Fin, in the mountains of Branagh, and under the name of the Fin-water proceeds to Lifford, where, on its confluence with the Mourne from the east, the united stream takes the name of the Foyle, and flowing past the city of Londonderry, of which it forms the capacious port and harbour, opens out into Lough Foyle. The Swilly rises in the mountains of Glendore, and passing by Letterkenny forms a large estuary between Ramelton and Newtown-Conyngham, which at flood tide appears like a large arm of the sea, but at low water exhibits a dreary and muddy strand. Further on, and opposite to Rathmullen, is Inch island, beyond which the waters expand into a deep and spacious gulph, which was considered of such importance during the late war with France, as to be protected by numerous batteries and martello towers. The Erne, anciently called the Samaer, flows from Lough Erne, enters the county at Belleek, and after a rapid course of four miles forms the harbour of Ballyshannon, which, should a rail-road be formed between it and the Lough, would acquire a large accession of trade, and by the union of Loughs Erne and Neagh, so as to form a more speedy communication between the north and west of Ireland, become an important harbour. The Burndale river rises in Lough Dale in the mountains of Cark, and flowing eastward, joins the Foyle: it is navigable to Ballindrait for vessels of 12 tons. The other rivers are the Esk, Inver, Awen-Ea, Onea, Barra, Golanesk, Guidore, Clady, Hork, Awen-charry, Lenan, Binnian, Awencranagh, Awenchillew, Sooley, and many smaller streams.
The roads, although, in consequence of the late Grand Jury act, considerably improved, and several new lines opened, require much to be done. They are, in general, badly constructed and not properly repaired, although the best materials are in abundance. Near the junction of the county with that of Fermanagh is a relic called "the Giant's Grave;" it is a cave, the side walls of which are formed of large blocks of unhewn stone, and the ceiling of flags of limestone. Another singular relic of antiquity connected with the O'Donell family is called "the Cash." It consists of a small box containing the Psalter of Columbkill, said to be written by the saint himself. Another, consisting of a flag-stone raised 18 inches from the ground on other stones, perfectly circular and regularly indented with holes half an inch deep and one inch in diameter, is in the deer-park of Castleforward. The ruins of seven religious houses still visible out of 41 are those of astrath near Ballyshannon, Bally Mac Swiney, Donegal, Kilmacrenan, Lough Derg, Tory island, and Rathmullen.
The principal castles yet remaining, wholly or in part, are Kilbarron, Killybegs, Donegal, Castle Mac Swiney, Dungloe, Ballyshannon, Fort Stewart, Burt, Doe and Green castle at the mouth of Lough Foyle. The modern seats, which are neither numerous nor peculiarly ornamental, are noticed in the accounts of their respective parishes.
The farm-houses are comfortable, but defective in cleanliness. The cabins of the peasantry, especially near the coast, are wretched and extremely filthy, the cattle and swine generally associating with the family, a custom also observable at times in the champaign country. The fuel is turf: the food: potatoes, oaten bread, and fish. with some milk and butter; the clothing mostly frieze, though articles of cotton are common, especialy for the women's wear. The English language, pronounced with a Scotch accent, is general in the flat county, but in the mountain region it is little spoken.
The most extraordinary natural curiosity is a perpendicular orifice in one of the cliffs projecting over the sea near Dunfanaghy, which in certain states of the tide throws up a large jet of water with a tremendous noise: it is called Mac Swiney's Gun. Not far from Bundoran is a similar orifice, called the Fairy Gun, from which a perpetual mist issues in stormy weather, accompanied by a chaunting sound observable at a great distance. Near Brown hall is a subterraneous river with numerous caves, the water of which possesses a petrifying quality: reeds and pieces of boughs are very soon encrusted with the calcareous matter, and large deposits of sulphur are found on the banks. Natural caves are found on the shores near Bundoran, and numerous others in various parts. In Drumkellin bog, in Inver parish, a wooden house was found perfectly framed and fitted together, having a flat roof: its top was 16 feet below the present surface of the bog.
|DONEGAL, a sea-port, market and post-town, and parish (formerly an incorporated parliamentary borough), in the barony of TYRHUGH, county of DONEGAL, and province of ULSTER, 24 miles (S.W.) from Lifford, and 113 (N.W) from Dublin; containing 6260 inhabitants, of which number, 830 are in the town.
In 1150, Murtogh O'Loghlen burnt this town and devastated the surrounding country. A castle was built here by the O'Donells about the 12th century; and a monastery for Franciscan friars of the Observantine order was founded in 1474, by Hugh Roe, son of O'Donell, Prince of Tyrconnell, and by his wife, Fiongala, daughter of O'Brien, Prince of Thomond. O'Donell, in 1587, bade defiance to the English government and refused to admit any sheriff into his district. The council at Dublin not having sufficient troops to compel his submission, Sir John Perrot, lord-deputy, proposed either to entrap him or his son. He accomplished his object by sending a ship freighted with Spanish wines to Donegal, the captain of which entertained all who would partake of his liberality, young O'Donell and two of his companions accepted his invitation, and when intoxicated were made prisoners and conveyed to Dublin as hostages for the chief of Tyrconnell. After remaining a prisoner in the castle for a considerable time, he, in company with several other hostages, effected his escape and returned to Donegal, where he was invested with the chieftaincy of Tyrconnell, and married a daughter of O'Nial, chief of Tyrone.
In 1592, an English force under Captains Willis and Convill took possession of the convent and the surrounding country, but were quickly expelled by the young Hugh Roe O'Donell, with the loss of their baggage. In 1600, O'Nial met O'Donell and the Spanish emissary, Oviedo, here, on the arrival of supplies from Spain at Killybegs, to concert the plan of a rebellion. Shortly after this, the English, taking advantage of O'Donell's absence in Connaught, marched a strong party to Donegal, and took possession of the monastery, which was unsuccessfully assaulted by O'Donell ; and the debarkation or the Spaniards at Kinsale, about this time occasioned him to go to their assistance, leaving the English in undisturbed possession, In 1631 the annals of Donegal, generally called the "Annals of the Four Masters," were compiled in the convent the original or the first part of this work is in the Duke or Buckingham's library at Stowe, and of the second in the collection of the Royal Irish Academy; part of these interesting annals have been published by Dr. O'Conor, under the title of "Rerum Hibernicarum Scriptures".
The castle was taken, in 1651, by the Marquess of Clanricarde, who was, however, soon obliged to surrender it to a superior force. On the 15th of October, 1798, a French frigate of 30 guns anchored close to the town, and two more appeared in the bay; but the militia and inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood showing a determination to resist a landing, they left the harbour.
The town is pleasantly situated at the mouth of the river Esk, and consists of three streets, comprising 150 houses, and a large triangular market-place. The market is held on Saturday; and fairs on the 2nd Friday of each month. Here is a constabulary police Station.
The harbour is formed by a pool on the east side of the peninsula of Durio, where, at the distanece of two miles below the town, small vessels may ride in two or three fathoms of water, about half a cables length from the shore. There is a good herring fishery in the bay, in summer.
The borough was incorporated by a charter of Jas I., dated Feb 27th, 1612, in pursuance of the plan of forming a new plantation in Ulster. The corporation consisted of a portreeve, twelve free burgesses, and an unlimited number of freemen; and the charter created a borough court, of which the portreeve was president, but it has long since been disused, From its incorporation till the Union the Borough returned two members to the Irish Parliament, and on the abolition of its franchise, £15,000 was paid as compensation to the Earl of Arran and Viscount Dudley. Since that period the corporation has ceased to exist. By a grant to Henry Brook, in 2639, a manor was erected, comprehending the town of Donegal, with a court leet and a court baron, to be held before a seneschal appointed by the patentee, having a civil jurisdiction to the extent of 40 shillings. The manorial court is still held monthly, on Mondays, except during the summer: petty sessions are held every alternate week; and the general quarter sessions for the county are held here in March, June, October, and December, in a small sessions-house. There is a small bridewell.
The parish comprises, according to the Ordnance Survey, 23,260 statute acres, including 503 1/4 in Lough Esk and 214 3/4 in small lakes: 23,089 acres are applotted under the tithe act, besides which there are about 900 acres of bog and a large tract of mountain land, in which is the beautiful lake of Lough Esk, at the upper end of which is the romantic and picturesque place called Ardnamona, the property of G C. Wray, Esq., and from which the river Esk descends southward to its estuary, in the inmost recess of the bay of Donegal. About a quarter of the cultivated land is arable, the remainder pasture.
The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Raphoe, and in the patronage of the Bishop; the rectory is impropriate in Col. Conolly. The tithes amount to £338. 9 shillings 2 1/2 pence of which £107. 13 shillings 10 1/4 pence is payable to the impropriator, and the remainder to the vicar. The glebe-house was rebuilt by aid of a gift of £100, from the late Board of First Fruits in 1816; and there is a , glebe of 38 acres. The church is a handsome structure, built in 1825, by aid of a donation of £100 from John Hamilton, Esq, and a loan of £1300 from the same Board.
The R.C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church, and has a chapel at Donegal and one at Townawilly.
There is a meeting-house for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster, of the third class, and one connected with the Seceding Synod, of the second class; also two places of worship for Independents and one for Wesleyan Methodists.
The parochial school was built on land given by the Earl of Arran. There are also a school on Erasmus Smith's foundation, one supported by Mrs. Hamilton, and nine others aided by different Societies and subscriptions. In these are about 600 children, and there are three Sunday schools. About the close of the last century, Col. Robertson, son of a clergyman of this town, bequeathed a sum of money, out of the interest of which, £15 per annum was to be paid to each of the parishes in the diocese of Raphoe, for the support of a school-master to instruct children of all religious denominations. This fund has so much increased as to enable the trustees to grant £40 to each parish, for the erection of a school-house, provided an acre of land on a perpetually renewable lease be obtained for a site.
There is a dispensary in the town, supported in the customary manner. Manganese is found in the demesne of Lough Esk, the residence of Thomas Brooke, Esq. Pearls, some of great beauty, have been found on the river Esk.
The remains of the monastery are still visible at a short distance from the town, the cloister is composed of small arches supported by coupled pillars on a basement; in one part of it are two narrow passages, one over the other, about four feet wide, ten long, and seven high, which were probably intended as depositories for valuables in times of danger. A considerable part of the castle remains, and forms an interesting feature in the beautiful view of the bay; although it and the other property granted to the patentee, at a rent of 13 shillings 4 pence per annum, have passed into other families, one of his descendants still pays a rent to the crown for it. Within three miles of the town is The Hall the residence of the Conyngham family. Donegal gives the titles of Marquess and Earl to the Chichester family.