Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary Ireland comprises of several counties, cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland.
ContentMONEYMORE, a market and post-town, partly in the parish of DESERTLYN, but chiefly in that of ARDTREA, barony of LOUGHINSHOLIN, county of LONDONDERRY, and province of ULSTER, 24 miles (S.) from Coleraine, and 92 (N.) from Dublin city, on the road to Coleraine ; containing 1025 inhabitants.
This place, which is one of the oldest post-towns in the country, is noticed by Pynnar, in his survey of Ireland, as consisting of an ancient castle, which he describes as a fine old building, and of six good houses of stone and lime, supplied with water conveyed by pipes to the castle and to each of the houses from a well near the limestone quarry at Spring Hill. Cormick O'Hagan, a follower of Sir Phelim O'Nial, took the castle by stratagem in 1641, and it remained for a long time in the possession of the insurgents, by whom it was subsequently destroyed. Sir Phelim, some time after, rendezvoused his troops at this place, whence he marched to plunder the house of Lissan, then the property and residence of Sir Thomas Staples. The castle which was one of the most perfect in Ireland, was taken down about time year 1760, to afford room for a small public-house, and only some portions of the walls are at present remaining. In lowering the high street and the hills some years since, some of the old water pipes were discovered, the wood of which crumbled into dust, but the iron hoops were in a tolerably perfect state and are now in the possession of Mr. Miller ; some more of the pipes were also found in trenching a field adjoining the spring, proving the accuracy of Pynnar's statement.
The town consists of two principal and five smaller streets, and contains 184 houses, which are very neatly built, and several others are now in progress of erection.
About a quarter of a mile above it is Spring Hill, the seat of W. L. Conyngham, Esq., a fine mansion more than 200 years old, pleasantly situated in grounds tastefully arranged and commanding some finely varied scenery; the demesne is enriched with some remarkably fine beech, oak, ash, and fir trees, and close to the house is a remarkably fine cedar. A very elegant house has been recently built by Rowley Miller, Esq., agent of the drapers company, and another by J. R Miller, Esq. ; the glebehouse, built in 1831 by the Hon, and Rev. J. P. Hewitt is a very handsome residence; and Desertlyn Cottage, the residence of J. Smyth, Esq., is pleasantly situated and the grounds tastefully laid out. There are also, in the immediate vicinity of the town, handsome houses belonging to Z. Maxwell and E. L. Batchelor, Esqrs., the Rev. J. Barnett, the Rev. G. Thompson, Mrs. Hamilton and others.
The surrounding district has been greatly improve by the Drapers company, who are the proprietors, since the year 1817, when, on the expiration of a lease granted to Sir W. Rowley, the estates returned into their possession, and have since been managed under their superintendence. The annual rent roll is £10,300, the whole of which is expended by the company in the improvement of the country generally, and more especially of their own property. They have planted more than 800 statute acres, and have completed more than 50 Irish miles of good road at their own expense, for the convenience and benefit of their tenantry ; they have expended more than £1000 in the erection of bridges, and are about to plant 800 acres of mountainous land in addition to the former plantations. They have thus not only added to the improvement and embellishment of the surrounding district, but have contributed greatly to the benefit of the poor by affording employment to the industrious, and have given directions to their agents to afford employment to all that may stand in need of it.
The system of agriculture has been greatly improved under the auspices of the North-West Farming Society ; there is little or no waste land, and scarcely sufficient bog to supply the inhabitants with fuel. There are many limestone quarries, from which lime is procured chiefly for manure; sandstone and freestone of good quality abound, and from the quarries of the latter was raised the stone for the erection of the new church; coal has also been found near the surface, and about two years since an attempt was made to explore the vein but without success.
The linen manufacture is carried on extensively throughout the district ; and there is a considerable traffic by means of Lough Neagh, which is within four miles of the town, and across which merchandise brought by the canal from Belfast city and Newry is conveyed to Port Ballyronan, where corn, butter and other agricultural produce of this neighbourhood are shipped to those places for exportation to Liverpool and other English ports. The market is on Monday, and fairs are held on the 2lst of each month, at which in addition to horses, cows, swine, sheep, and agricultural produce, large quantities of linen are. also sold. These are the largest linen fairs in the North of Ireland ; the sales, on an average, amount to £40.000 per annum. An additional linen market, established in 1835, is held on the first Monday in every month; it is well attended, and promises to equal the other linen fairs in the extent of its sales. The market and court-house, and the linen-hall, erected in 1818, are neat and well-arranged buildings; and near them is a spacious and handsome hotel, erected about the same time. A new market-place and a spacious corn-store are now being erected a little off the main street, which will diminish the pressure of the people on market and fair days ; and here corn, potatoes, butchers' meat and other articles will be exposed for sale.
A constabulary police force is stationed in the town ; petty sessions are held on alternate Tuesdays, and a court for the major once every month, in which debts to the amount of 40s. late currency are recoverable. The manor is co-extensive with the whole estates belonging to the Drapers company, which include portions of the several parishes of Arboe, Ardtrea, Ballynascreen, Derryloran, Desertlyn, Desertmartin, Kilcronaghan, Lissan, Maghera, and Tamlaght. This estate comprises 64 townlands, nine of which are native free holds, each paying a chief rent to the company, and of which seven are in the parish of Kilcronaghan
The parish church of Desertlyn, situated in the town, is a very handsome structure, in the Norman style, and was erected in 1839, at an expense of £6000, wholly defrayed by the Drapers company. There are also a handsome Roman Catholic chapel, towards the rebuilding of which the same company contributed £230 ; a: place of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster, built by the company at an expense of £4000 ; and one for those to connection with the Seceding Synod, built on ground presented by the company, who also contributed £250 towards its erection ; these last pay an annual rent of 5s., and the ground around them has been tastefully laid out and planted by the company.
Two large and handsome school-houses, with residences for a master and mistress, were built ill the town in 1820, and are supported by the Drapers company, who also have built and support four others in the rural parts of their estate ; in these schools about 1400 children are gratuitously instructed, and ten of the boys annually apprenticed to handicraft trades ; the masters have each a salary of £50 and the mistresses of £35 per Ann., with a house rent-free and a supply of fuel.
Two dispensaries, with houses for resident surgeons, were built and are supported by the company, one here and one at Draperstown, for the benefit of their tenantry ; and two county dispensaries at the same places were also erected and are solely supported by the same company, for the benefit of such inhabitants of the surrounding district as do not reside on their estates. The company allow £1000 per ann., for the maintenance of the schools and dispensaries, which are regulated by a Board of Governors, consisting of the clergy of all denominations, the resident gentry of the neighbourhood and the respectable farmers on the estate.
There are several Danish forts in the parish, two of which, on the townland of Tulnagee, are in a perfect state ; and adjoining the linen-hall are some slight vestiges of the ancient castle.