RAMOAN, or RATHMORAN, a parish, in the barony of CAREY, county of ANTRIM, and province of ULSTER; containing, with the post-town of Ballycastle (which is separately described), 4739 inhabitants. This place, called also Rathmona, signifying "the fort in the bog," is situated on the sea-shore, and forms the western boundary of Ballycastle bay. The coast, consisting of bold, precipitous cliffs, is here too abrupt to afford a convenient landing-place, except the quay at Ballycastle, which was constructed at considerable expense, though now in a dilapidated state. The parish comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 12,066½ statute acres, principally under cultivation; the system of agriculture is highly improved, but the lands in several parts being very much exposed, the wheat does not ripen well. The quality of the land differs much, but is in general productive, and the extensive mountain of Knocklaide affords good pasturage: it is one of the highest in the county, half being within this parish, and the other half in that of Armoy; its summit is 1685 feet above the level of the sea at low water. There are considerable tracts of bog near the Coleraine road, and of waste land in the line towards the Giants' Causeway, and near the base of Knocklaide. Coal of excellent quality is found here, but no mines have been opened, though the collieries in the adjoining parish of Culfeightrim, usually known as the Ballycastle collieries, were formerly worked to a considerable extent. Superior freestone, in colour and grain equal to Portland stone, is quarried here, but not to any great extent. The spinning of linen yarn, and the weaving of cloth, are carried on in some of the farmhouses.

A market and fairs, and courts leet and baron, are held at Ballycastle. Clare Park is the elegant seat of Chas. McGildowney, Esq.; Glenbank, of Mrs. Cuppage; and the glebe-house, of the Rev. Leslie Creery.

The living was formerly a vicarage, united to that of Culfeightrim, the rectories of which, since 1609, were appropriate to the chancellorship of Connor, till 1831, when, on the decease of Dr. Trail, the last chancellor, it became a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Connor, under the provisions of the act of the 5th of Geo. IV., cap. 80, and now constitutes the corps of the chancellorship, with cure of souls, in the patronage of the Bishop.

The tithes amount to £400: the glebe-house was built in 1809, at an expense of £480, of which £369 was a gift, and £110 a loan, from the late Board of First Fruits; the glebe comprises 26 acres of good arable land, valued at £39 per annum. The church is a small edifice, and was rebuilt in 1812, at an expense of £369, a loan from the same Board: it contains some very ancient monuments.

There is also an endowed church, or chapel, at Ballycastle. In the R. C, divisions the parish is called Ballycastle; it contains two chapels, one in the town, the other at Glenslush. There are two places of-worship for Presbyterians, in connection with the Synod of Ulster, one of which is in the town, and the other near the church; both are of the third class: there is also a Methodist meeting-house. About 400 children are educated in five public schools, of which the parochial school is principally supported by the rector; and in five private schools are about 180 children. There are also six Sunday schools. At Ballycastle are almshouses founded by Hugh Boyd, Esq., who also endowed a charter school, now discontinued, near the church, with 12 acres of land. On the summit of Knocklaide is a tumu- lus called Cairn-an-Truagh, said traditionally to be the burial-place of three Danish princesses. There are several raths in the parish, some terminating in a pointed apex, and others flat on the top like a truncated cone; of the latter sort, one, within a quarter of a mile of the town, is called Dun-a-Mallaght, the "cursed fort." The castle of Doonaninney stands on a bold headland, 300 feet above the level of the sea, commanding the channel and the isle of Rathlin: two miles westward are the noble and romantic ruins of Kinbane, or Kenbann, castle, built on a projecting cliff of limestone rock, running out several hundred feet into the sea, under some bold headlands, which rise 280 feet above the ruins. In the town of Ballycastle are the remains of the edifice which gave name to the place; an uninteresting gable is all that exists: about two miles hence, on the Glenslush water, are the ruins of a very extraordinary castle, called Goban-Saor, which once was the residence of the powerful chieftain O'Cahan: and immediately adjoining the quay of Ballycastle are the interesting ruins of the abbey of Bonamargy, founded by Mac Donnell, in 1509, which was perhaps the latest erected in Ireland for Franciscan monks; the chapel is in tolerable preservation, being the burial-place of the Antrim family. According to Archdall, St. Patrick founded a religious house here, called Rath-Moane, in which he placed St. Ereclasius. Vast quantities of beautiful pebbles are found along the shore, among which are chalcedony, opal, dentrites, and belemnites. On the lands of Drumans, on the side of the great mountain of Knooklaide, is a spring, the waters of which are strongly chalybeate, and may be conveyed to distant places without any diminution of their effect.

from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.


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The transcription of the section for this parish from the National Gazetteer (1868), provided by Colin Hinson.



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