Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary Ireland comprises of several counties, cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland.
ContentAGHERTON, or BALLYAGHRAN, a parish, in the liberties of COLERAINE, county of LONDONDERRY, and province of ULSTER, 3 miles (N.N.W.) from Coleraine; containing, with the town of Portstewart, 2746 inhabitants.
This parish occupies the whole of the promontory between the river Bann and the Atlantic ocean, comprising, according to the Ordnance survey, 8896 3/4 statute acres, of which 3709 are applotted under the tithe act, and valued at £2831 per annum. With the exception of about 320 acres, the whole is arable; there is a small portion of unenclosed land, part of which is light and sandy, and chiefly a rabbit warren, and part affords excellent pasture. The cultivation of wheat was introduced by Mr. Orr, in 1829, and great quantities are now annually raised. Similar success attended the cultivation of barley, potatoes, mangel-wurzel, and turnips; and the agriculture of the parish is at present in a very flourishing state. Iron-ore is found in great quantities, and might be worked to great advantage, but no works have yet been established.
There are several gentlemen's seats, the principal of which are Cromore, an elegant mansion, the residence of J. Cromie, Esq., the principal proprietor in the parish, who has recently planted several acres with forest and other trees; Flowerfield; of S. Orr, Esq.; O'Hara Castle, of H. O'Hara, Esq.; Low Rock, of Miss M'Manus; and Black Rock, of T. Bennett, Esq. There are also several villas and handsome bathing lodges at Portstewart, a pleasant and well-attended watering-place.
A small manufacture of linen and linen yarn is carried on, and many of the inhabitants are employed in the fisheries, particularly in the salmon fishery on the river Bann. Of late, great quantities of salmon have been taken along the whole coast, by means of a newly invented net; and the sea fishery is continued for a long time after that on the river is by law compelled to cease.
The Bann, which is the only outlet from Lough Neagh, discharges itself into the Atlantic at the western point of the parish; it appears to have changed its course, and now passes close under the point of Down Hill, the celebrated mansion erected by the Earl of Bristol, when Bishop of Derry.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Connor, united by charter of Jas. I., in 1609, to the rectory of Ardclinis, together constituting the union of Agherton, and the corps of the treasurership in the cathedral church of St. Saviour, Connor, in the patronage of the Bishop. The tithes amount to £240 ; and the tithes of the union, including glebe, amount to £470, constituting the gross income of the treasurership, to which no duty is annexed. The church, a small edifice, was erected in 1826, at an expense of £960, of which £100 was raised by subscription, £800 was a loan from the late Board of First Fruits, and £60 was given by John Cromie, Esq., who also paid the interest on £700 of the loan until the debt was cancelled in 1833. Divine service is also performed by the curate every Sunday in the school-house at Portstewart. The glebe-house, a handsome residence close adjoining the church, was built in 1806, for which the Board granted a gift of £250 and a loan of £500; the glebe comprises 20 acres of profitable land, valued at £80 per annum.
In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Coleraine.v There are places of worship for Presbyterians and Wesleyan Methodists, the former in connection with the Synod of Ulster and of the third class.
There is a male free school, and a female and two infants' schools are supported by Mrs. Cromie, who has built a large school-room for one of the latter : 275 children are taught in these schools; and there are four private schools, in which are about 130 children, and four Sunday schools. Mark Kerr O'Neill, Esq., in 1814, bequeathed £40 per ann. to the poor.
There are some remains of the ancient castle of Mac Quillan on the glebe land adjoining the church. Near them are the gabled walls of the old church, still tolerably entire; and in the adjoining field is an extensive cave formed of uncemented walls covered with large flat stones, one of the largest and most perfect yet known in this part of the country: there are also several other caves in: the parish. In the townland of Carnanee is a very fine triangular fort, called Craig-an-Ariff; it is defended by fosses and breastworks, and is the only fort so constructed in this part of Ireland; within the enclosure are two cairns or tumuli. Dr. Adam Clarke, whose father kept a school for several years in the old parish church, received the rudiments of his education here; and in the latter part of his life spent much of his time in the summer at Portstewart, where during his stay in 1830, he built a handsome house, and erected in the gardens of Mr. Cromie a curious astronomical and geographical dial, which is still preserved there.