AGHADOWY, or AGHADOEY, a parish, in the half-barony of COLERAINE, county of LONDONDERRY, and province of ULSTER, 6 miles (S. by W.) from Coleraine, on the road from that place to Dungannon; containing 7634 inhabitants- This parish, which is bounded on the north-east by the river Bann, is 10¾ miles in length from north-west to south-east 3 and 4½ miles in breadth from north-east to south-west; and, with the extra-parochial grange or liberty of Agivey, which is locally within its limits, and has since the Reformation been attached to it, comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 18,115¾ statute acres, of which 1727¾ are in Agivey, 119½ are covered with water, and 16,290 are applotted under the tithe act. Its western extremity is mountainous and barren, but eastward towards the river the soil is fertile; the lands are generally in a high state of cultivation, particularly in the neighbourhood of Keeley, Ballybrittan, Rushbrook, Flowerfield, and Mullamore; in the valley where the Agivey and Aghadowy waters meet, the soil is very rich. Previously to the year 1828, no wheat was grown in this parish; but since that period the system of agriculture has been greatly improved, and, in 1832, Mr. James Hemphill introduced the cultivation of mangel-wurzel and turnips, which has been attended with complete success. There are considerable tracts of bog, but they will soon be exhausted by the large quantities annually consumed in the bleach-greens; and in the western or mountainous parts are large tracts of land which, from the depth of the soil, might easily be brought into cultivation. Ironstone is found in several parts, but is more particularly plentiful in the townland of Bovagh. The greater portion of the parish formed part of the lands granted, in 1609, by Jas. I. to the Irish Society, and is now held under the Ironmongers' Company, of London, by whom, on the expiration of the present leases, the lands will be let, as far as may be practicable, on the English principk; the Mercers' Company, the Bishop of Derry, and the Rev. T. Richardson are also proprietors. There are numerous gentlemen's seats, of which the principal are Rushbrook, the residence of J. Knox, Esq.; Landmore, of Geo. Dunbar, Esq.; Flowerfield, of J. Hunter, Esq.; Flowerfield, of Mrs. Hemphill; Keeley, of Andrew Orr, Esq.; Ballydivitt, of T. Bennett, Esq.; Mullamore, of A. Barklie, Esq.; Moneycarrie, of J. McCleery,Esq.; Meath Park, of J. Wilson, Esq.; Bovagh, of R. Hezlett, Esq.; and Killeague, of Mrs. Wilson. Previously to 1730 the parish was for the greater part unenclosed and uncultivated 3 but three streams of water which intersect it attracted the attention of some spirited individuals engaged in the linen trade, which at that time was coming into notice, and had obtained the sanction of some legislative enactments for its encouragement and support. Of these, the first that settled here with a view to the introduction of that trade were Mr. J. Orr, of Ballybrittan, and Mr. J. Blair of Ballydivitt, who, in 1744., established some bleach-greens; since that time the number has greatly increased, and there are at present not less than eleven in the parish, of which ten are in full operation. The quantity of linen bleached and finished here, in 1833, amounted to 126,000 pieces, almost exclusively for the English market; they are chiefly purchased in the brown state in the markets of Coleraine, Ballymoney, Strabane, and Londonderry, and are generally known in England as "Coleraines," by which name all linens of a similar kind, wherever made, are now called, from the early celebrity which that town acquired for linens of a certain width and quality. In addition to the bleaching and finishing, Messrs. A. and G. Barklie have recently introduced the manufacture of linens, and have already 800 looms employed. Coarse kinds of earthenware, bricks, and water pipes, are manufactured in considerable quantities; and when the navigation of the river Bann is opened, there is every probability that this place will increase in importance.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Derry, constituting the corps of the prebend of Aghadowy in the cathedral church of that see, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £500. The church, situated in a fertile vale near the centre of the parish, and rebuilt in 1797, is a small neat edifice with a handsome tower, formerly surmounted by a lofty octagonal spire, erected at the expense of the late Earl of Bristol (when bishop of Derry), but which was destroyed by lightning in 1826; the tower, being but slightly injured, was afterwards embattled and crowned with pinnacles: the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have lately granted £183 for the repair of the church. The late Board of First Fruits granted £100 towards the erection of a glebe-house, in 1789 5 and in 1794 the present house, called Blackheath, was built by the late Sir Harvey Bruce, Bart., as a glebe-house for the parish. It is a handsome residence; over the mantel-piece in the drawing-room is an elegant sculpture, representing Socrates discovering his pupil Alcibiades in the haunts of dissipation, which was brought from Italy by Lord Bristol, and presented to Sir H. Bruce. The glebe lands comprise 403 statute acres, exclusively of a glebe of 121 acres in Agivey; and the gross value of the prebend, as returned by His Majesty's Commissioners on Ecclesiastical Revenues, is £ 880 per annum. In the R. C. divisions this parish forms part of the union or district of Killowen, or Coleraine, and contains a small chapel at Mullaghinch. There are places of worship for Presbyterians of the Synod of Ulster (of the first class), Seceders in connection with the Associate Synod (of the second class), and Covenanters, situated respectively at Aghadowy, Ringsend, Ballylintagh, and Killeague.
There are five schools, situated respectively at Mullaghinch, Droghead, Collins, Drumstaple, and Killeague, supported by the Ironmongers' Company; two free schools at Gorran and Callyrammer, and two schools situated at Blackheath and Ballynakelly, of which the former, for females only, is supported by the rector's lady, and the latter is aided by an annual donation from Mr. Knox. About 530 boys and 850 girls are taught in these schools; and there is a private school of about 16 boys and 20 girls. A religious establishment was founded here, in the 7th century, by St. Goarcus, as a cell to the priory or abbey founded by him at Agivey, the latter of which became a grange to the abbey of St. Mary-de-la-Fouta, or Mecasquin, in 1172. A very splendid lachrymatory or double patera of pure gold, of exquisite workmanship and in good preservation, was found at Mullaghinch in 1832, and is now in the possession of Alexander Barklie, Esq. In the townland of Crevilla is a large druidical altar, called by the country people the "Grey Stane;" and on. the mountains above Rushbrook is a copious chalybeate spring, powerfully impregnated with iron and sulphur held in solution by carbonic acid gas.
from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.