Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary Ireland comprises of several counties, cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland.
ContentMOVILLE (LOWER), a parish, in the barony of ENNISHOWEN, county of DONEGAL, and province of ULSTER, 17 miles (N. N. E.) from Londonderry city ; containing 5785 inhabitants.
This parish is situated on the western shore of Lough Foyle, and bounded on the north by the Atlantic ocean; it comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, including a detached portions 15,950.50 statute acres. Prior to 1788 it formed part of the parish of Moville (anciently called Mobhuile), when it was separated from the southern or upper division of the old parish. The land is in general of inferior quality, and a large portion of the parish consists of rocky barren mountain, from which circumstance, and that of the population being partly employed in fishing, agriculture is in a backward state ; but in the neighbourhood of Moville town the land has been brought into a good state. of cultivation and well planted, and is embellished with several handsome residences, which, together with the principal features of the scenery, are noticed in the article on that town ; and to the west of Greencastle a slope of cultivated land ascends towards the neighbouring mountains.
The coast of this parish extends from the town of Moville to Glenagivney, including the head-lands of Shrove and Ennishowen ; nearly the whole line consists of rocky cliffs of a bold and romantic character, and between Shrove Point and the point of Magilligan, on the opposite coast of Londonderry county, is the entrance to Lough Foyle, a capacious harbour, where the largest ships may ride in safety in all kinds of weather. Two light-houses are now in course of erection at Shrove Head by the Ballast Board, in consequence of the numerous shipwrecks that have taken place on the sand balks called "the Tons," near the entrance of the lough.
Close on the shore of Lough Foyle, and nearly adjoining the church, are the magnificent ruins of Greencastle, built by Sir Caher O'Dogherty in the 15th century : it stands on a boldly prominent rock near the entrance of the lough, and, from the great strength and extent of the building, which covers the whole surface of the rock (100 yards long and 56 broad), flanked by octagonal and square towers, inaccessible from the sea, and strongly fortified towards the land, was rendered almost impregnable ; it was, notwithstanding said to have been the first castle abandoned by O'Dogherty, and seized upon by the English and was afterwards granted to Sir Arthur Chichester. The walls are in some places twelve feet thick, and several of them are still in a good state of preservation ; the eastern portion of one of the towers has fallen and lies in an unbroken mass on the ground. The eligibility of this situation in commanding the entrance to Lough Foyle induced the Government, on the apprehension of an invasion, to erect a fortress, nearly adjoining the castle, consisting of a tower, battery and magazines with accommodation for 4 officers and 42 men, and, together with another battery on the opposite side of the harbour, mounting 56 guns : the establishment now consists only of a master gunner and five artillerymen.
A court for the manor of Greencastle is held monthly, for the recovery of debts under 40s., late currency. Here are stations of the constabulary and revenue police, and of the tide-waiters and pilots of the port of Londonderry; and at Greencastle and Portkennigo are stations of the coast-guard, included in the district of Carn.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Derry, and in the patronage of the Bishop : the tithes amount to £553. 17s., per annum. The church is a small but neat edifice, built in 1782, in the early English style, with a tower at the east front ; it stands on a rocky eminence near the shore of Lough Foyle.
In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish is united with Upper Moville ; there are chapels at Ballybrack and Ballynacree.
Near the church is the parochial school, chiefly supported by the rector ; at Moville is a female school; and at Glenagivney, Moville, and Gallaghdaff are national schools; in these collectively about 260 children are instructed : there are also two private schools, in which are about 80 children; and three Sunday schools.
Near Greencastle are some extensive ruins, called Capel Moule, having the appearance of a military edifice, and supposed to have formerly belonged to the Knights Templars ; and on a detached rock, about a mile distant, are the ruins of Kilblaney church : previously to 1650 Kilblaney formed a separate parish. Near Ennishowen Head is an extensive natural caved often visited in the summer season.