Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary Ireland comprises of several counties, cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland.
ContentBALLINTOY, a parish, in the barony of CAREY, County of ANTRIM, and province of ULSTER, 4 miles (N.W.) from Ballycastle; containing 4061 inhabitants, of which number, 278 are in the village.
This parish is situated on the most northern part of the coast of Antrim, which is here diversified with creeks and bays, and with cliffs and headlands of singular and romantic appearance. It lies opposite to the north-west point of the island of Rathlin, and comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 12,753 3/4 acres (including Sheep and Carrickarede islands), of which about one-half is arable, one-third pasture, and the remainder hog. The surface is boldly varied: immediately above the village rises the lofty hill of Knocksoghy, covered with rock and furze ; there is also another hill called Croaghmore, which rises to a great height, and may be seen at a great distance; its sides are arable, and on the summit, which is fine pasture, without any heath, are a cairn of stones and some graves. The land about the village and near White Park bay is in a high state of cultivation. Sea-weed, of which some is made into kelp, and shell sand and lime are the chief manures. The village contains about 60 houses: the road from Ballycastle to Bushmills passes through the parish, and commands some pleasantly diversified scenery and some highly romantic views, among which are White Park bay and the beautiful windings of the shore studded with detached masses of basaltic rock and limestone.
Near it is Mount Druid, the residence of the Rev. Robert Trail, a handsome mansion deriving its name from the Druidical relic on the hill above it.
In the hills are found mines of wood-coal, which seems to be peculiar to this part of the coast : it is found in strata generally under basalt, varying from two inches to two feet in thickness, and displays the grain, knots, roots, and branches of timber; it is generally used as domestic fuel, but its disagreeable smell renders it very ineligible for that purpose. These mines belong of right to the Antrim family, who are lords in fee; but their claim has never been asserted to prevent the tenants raising as much coal as they might require. There are extensive quarries of good stone, which is obtained for building and also for repairing the roads; and limestone abounds in the parish. Some of the inhabitants are employed in spinning yarn and weaving, but the greater number are engaged in agriculture. There are salmon fisheries at Portbraddon, Carrickarede, and Laryban, on the coast. The insulated rock of Carrickarede is separated from the main land by a chasm 60 feet wide and more than 80 feet deep; at this place the salmon are intercepted in their retreat to the rivers. The fishing commences early in spring and continues till August: a rude bridge of ropes is every year thrown across the chasm, which remains during the season, and a singular kind of fishery is carried on, which is generally very productive. The other fish taken off this coast are glassen, grey gurnet, cod, lythe, ling, sea trout, mackerel, and turbot: a species of red cod, and a small thick red fish of indifferent quality, called murranroe, are also found here. About 80 boats are employed in the fishery, which are drawn up in the several creeks along the shore; there are also several bays, into one of which, called Port Camply, vessels of light tonnage occasionally sail from the Scottish coast. At Port Ballintoy there is a coast-guard station, which is one of the eight stations that form the district of Ballycastle. Fairs are held in the village for horses, Scotch ponies, cattle, pigs, and pedlery, on June 3rd, Sept. 4th, and Oct. 14th. The parish is within the jurisdiction of the manorial court of Ballycastle, which is held there every month.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Connor, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £415. 7sh. 8d. The church, a plain edifice with a spire,was rebuilt on the site of the ancient structure, in 1818, by aid of a gift of £800 from the late Board of First Fruits; it is romantically situated on a plain on the sea-shore, backed by lofty hills. The glebe-house was built by the present incumbent in 1791, and is situated on a glebe of 40 acres, subject to a rent of £25. 5sh. Late currency.
In the R.C. divisions this parish is united to that of Armoy, and contains a small chapel.
There is a place of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster.
A parochial school was founded and endowed by Mrs. Jane Stewart, under whose will the master is appointed by the vestry held at Easter, and has a salary of £15 per annum. At Prollisk and Island Macallen are two schools, supported by a society of which the late Dr. Adams was the originator, which, with the parochial school, afford instruction to about 240 boys and 80 girls; and there are also three private schools, in which are about 90 boys and 30 girls. The splendid ruins of Dunseverick castle, one of the earliest Scottish fortresses, situated on a bold and isolated rock projecting into the sea, at the north-west extremity of the parish, and formerly the seat of the O'Cahans, form an interesting feature on the coast; traces of the outworks are still visible, and the remains of the keep, consisting only of part of the shell crowning the summit of the rock, which has been rendered more inaccessible by clearing away immense masses from the base, in order to make it the more precipitous, derive much interest from the singularity of their situation. At Port Coan, near the Giants' Causeway, a singular cavern, the sides and roof of which are formed of round pebbles imbedded in a matrix of basalt of great hardness. At the other extremity of the parish, on the sea-coast to the east of the village, and about a mile from the road leading to Ballycastle, are the ruins of Mac Allister's castle, a small fortress erected by the native chieftain whose name it bears, but at what precise period is not known; it is situated on the verge of a frightful chasm, on the lower extremity of an abrupt headland connected with the shore by a narrow isthmus, which is perforated at its base by several caverns, in one of which are some basaltic columns. There are some remains of the ancient church of Templeastragh, the burial-ground of which is still in use.