CULDAFF, or COOLDABH, a parish, in the barony of ENNISHOWEN, county of DONEGAL, and province of ULSTER, 6 miles (N. W.) from Moville; containing 5995 inhabitants. It is bounded on the northeast by the Atlantic ocean, and contains, according to the Ordnance survey, including detached portions, 20,089½ statute acres, about two-thirds of which are mountain and bog, and 55½ acres are water including the tideway of Culdaff river. The surface is generally mountainous, intersected with occasional districts of cultivated land. The mountains of Crucknanionan, Clonkeen, Carthage, and Glengad, the highest summit of which is called Croagh, are covered with black heath, intermixed with coarse grass and bog; that called Squire Cam, on the southern boundary of the parish, is 1058 feet above the level of the sea. The land is generally cold, and cultivation is not in an advanced state, except in the neighbourhood of Culdaff House, where an improved practical system of agriculture has been advantageously introduced, as also near Carthage House, the residence of the Rev. James Knox.
Limestone abounds, and is carried hence to a considerable distance. Prior to the year 1812, large quantities of cod were taken off this coast, but that species of fish has since almost wholly disappeared. Salmon of excellent flavour is, during the summer months, taken in the river and for several miles along the coast, but it also is now scarce; in a small lake at Moneydarragh the char, or Alpine trout, is found in considerable numbers. In the several detached bogs of this parish great quantities of timber, chiefly fir and oak, are imbedded; the oak is generally black and in a good state of preservation. These bogs occupy a low tract of country, extending westward to Malin, with small elevated knolls of firm cultivated land rising from amid the bog, and known here as the "Isles of Grelagh:" it is supposed that the sea once flowed either over or around the whole, as marine exuviae are every where found beneath the bog. The village of Culdaff, generally called Milltown, is situated on the eastern bank of the river, and contains about 30 houses. Fairs are held on the 10th of Feb., May, Aug., and Nov., for general farming stock. It enjoys an advantageous position for carrying on a considerable coasting trade, but very little business is done. Several good roads intersect the parish; and there is a penny post to Moville. Culdaff House, the residence of George Young, Esq., with an extensive and highly improved demesne, well fenced, planted, and cultivated, nearly adjoins the village; and not far distant is Redford, the residence of the Rev.
R. Hamilton, by whose exertions a barren rocky district has been converted into a comparatively fertile plain.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Derry, and in the patronage of the Marquess of Donegal: the tithes amount to £482. The glebe-house stands a mile east of the village, on a glebe comprising 105 acres, of which 40 are uncultivated land. The church is a small neat edifice, in the early English style, with a square tower of modern erection. In the R. C. divisions part of this parish is united to part of Cloncha, forming the union or district of Culdaff, and the remainder forms part of the district of Cloncha: there is a large chapel at Bogan, in the latter parish, which serves for both. The parochial school for boys is principally supported by the rector, aided by local contributions. A school in the village of Culdaff was built and is principally supported by George Young, Esq., and his lady; and at Ballyharry is a school in connection with the National Board, and another at Caramora: in these schools about 140 boys and 100 girls are educated; and there are five private schools, in which are about 400 children, and three Sunday schools.
On the summit of a steep rock, on the coast near Carthage are the remains of a circular fort, called Doonowen: it is nearly surrounded by the sea, and is supposed to have been the residence of the ancient proprietor of the barony of Ennishowen. At Cashel is a curious elevation, which appears to have been the site of a religious house; close adjoining are two perfect stone crosses of great antiquity, and near them the plinth of a third cross; at Baskil are two upright stones, supporting a horizontal one; and in several other parts of the parish are considerable remains of antiquity. The parish is said to have been the birth-place of the celebrated comedian Macklin.
from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.