Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary Ireland comprises of several counties, cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland.
ContentRASHARKIN, a parish, in the barony of KILCONWAY, county of ANTRIM, and province of ULSTER, 2.50 miles (E.) from Kilrea, on tile road to Ballymena; containing 7481 inhabitants.
This parish, called also Ratharkin and Magherasharkin, lies on the border of the county of Londonderry, from which it is separated by the river Bann : it is 6 miles long and 5 broad, and comprises according to the Ordnance survey, 19,337.75 statute acres, of which a very large quantity is mountain waste land, or bog; the remainder is of a light soil, but of excellent quality for flax, potatoes, oats and clover ; the system of agriculture in some parts is very good, in others the reverse. The linen manufacture is carried on to a considerable extent, the cloth being sold at Ballymena ; and there are two bleach-greens, one at Dunroin, belonging to John Cunningham, Esq., in which about 34,000 webs are annually bleached ; the other at Dunminning, belonging to Tho. Birdie, Esq., which bleaches about 50,000 webs, principally for the English market. These gentlemen have elegant residences attached, to their respective establishments. At Killymurris is a very extensive vein of coal, chiefly of the kind called cannel, which is very productive, though by no means skilfully wrought : there are some quarries of basalt, from which the stone is raised for building and road-making. The Bann is navigable from Lough Neagh to Portna, where there is a convenient wharf, at which considerable business is done at times. A fair for cattle and pedlery is held annually in the village of Rasharkin, which is also a chief constabulary police station.
The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Connor, united by charter of Jas. I. to the rectories of Finvoy and Kilraghts and Kildallock grange, which together form the corps of the prebend of Rasharkin in the cathedral of Connor, and in the patronage of the Bishop. The rectory is impropriate ; one portion of the rectorial tithes, amounting to £55. 15s. 8d., belongs to Robert Harvey, Esq. ; two other portions, amounting to £101. 16s. 8d., belong, one moiety to Sir Tho. Staples, Bart, and the other to Edm Caulfleld, Esq. ; the residue, amounting to £46. 3s. 1d., has been appropriated to the use of Castle-Dawson chapelry; the total of the rectorial tithes is £203. 15s. 5d. The vicarial tithes payable to the incumbent are £222. 7s., and the aggregate value of the union, including the glebe, is £811. 17s. per annum. The parishes of Rasharkin and Finvoy are held with cure of souls, those of Kilraghts and Kildallock without cure. The glebe-house, having been found by the present incumbent in a dilapidated and uninhabitable state on his admission to the benefice, has been put into complete repair by him, at an expense of £3692, without having any demand on his successor for the repayment of any portion there of : the glebe consists of 50a. 0r. 34.50p., statute measure, valued at 18s. 6d. per acre. The church is a small but very beautiful edifice on a commanding situation.
In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish is united with that of Finvoy ; both have chapels : that of Rasharkin is in the village, in which there are also two places of worship for Presbyterians.
A parochial school is chiefly supported by the rector : at Dromore are two schools under the direction of the Rev. Mr. Wilson ; a male and female school at Dunminny were built and are supported, the former by Mr. Birnie and the latter by Miss Birnie ; a school at Glenback is in connection with the Board of National Education, another is in connection with the London Hibernian Society, and there are two others, aided by grants from individuals. In these schools about 130 boys and 120 girls are instructed : besides whom, 418 boys and 160 girls are educated in 13 private schools : there are also 8 Sunday schools.
There are several raths in the parish : one of theses at Lisnacannon, is of very large dimensions; it has two fosses and three ramparts, and covers nearly an acre and a half of ground. Several silver coins. of the reigns of Stephen, John and Rich. III., and of Robert and David Bruce, were found here ; and an artificial cavern was discovered near the church. The body of a man who had committed suicide in 1776, and had been buried in a bog in the mountain, was found in 1827, without the smallest signs of decomposition.