ANTRIM (County of), a maritime county in the province of Ulster, bounded on the north by the Northern Ocean, or Deucaledonian Sea; on the north-east and east, by the North Channel; on the south-east, by the lough or bay of Belfast and the river Lagan, separating it from the county of Down, which likewise borders it on the south ; on the south-west, by Lough Neagh; on the west, by Lough Beg and the river Bann, which separate it from the county of Londonderry; and on the north-west, by the liberties of Coleraine. It extends from 54° 26′ to 55° 12′ 16″ (N. Lat), and from 5° 47′ to 6° 52′ (W. Lon.) ; and comprises 745,177 statute acres, of which 503,288 are arable land, 176,335 uncultivated, 10,358 plantation, 1,908 occupied by towns and villages, and the remainder waste. The population, exclusively of Belfast and Carrickfergus, is 276,188.
In the ancient division of the island, the southern and south-western parts of this county were included in the territory called Dalriada, or Ulidia; the western and north-western were designated Dalrieda, and the name of the whole was Endruim or Andruim, signifying the “habitation upon the waters,” and strikingly descriptive of its situation. It was afterwards divided into the three districts of North or Lower Clan-Hugh- Boy, Claneboy, or Clandeboy; the Glynnes; and the Reuta, Route, or Route. North or Lower Clandeboy, so called to distinguish it from South or Upper Clandeboy now included in the adjacent county of Down, extended from Carrickfergus bay and the river Lagan to Lough Neagh, and consisted of the tract now forming the baronies of Belfast, Massareene, and Antrim. The Glynnes, so called from the intersection of its surface by many rocky dells, extended from Larne northward, along the coast, to Ballycastle, being backed by the mountains on the west, and containing the present baronies of Upper and Lower Glenarm, and part of that of Carey. The Route included nearly all the rest of the county to the west and north, forming the more ancient Dalrieda, and, in the reign of Elizabeth, occasionally called “Mac Sorley Boy’s Country.” Within the limits of Clandeboy was a minor division, named “Bryen Carrogh’s Country,” won from the rest by the Scots. At what precise period Antrim was erected into a county is uncertain: it was divided into baronies in 1584, by the lord-deputy, Sir John Perrot; but this arrangement was not until some time afterwards strictly observed.
The earliest inhabitants of this part of Ireland on record were a race of its ancient Celtic possessors, designated by Ptolemy Darnii or Darini; and it deserves notice that Nennius mentions the “regions of Dalrieda” as the ultimate settlement of the Scythian colony in Ireland. According to the Irish annalists, Murdoch Mac Erch, chief of the Hibernian Dalaradians, early in the fourth century, by a series of conquests extended his dominions in the north of Antrim and the adjacent districts, while hit brother Fergus succeeded in establishing a colony in North Britain. The first intruders upon these earliest settlers were probably the Danish marauders, to whose desolating descents this coast was for several ages peculiarly exposed. Subsequently the northern Scots harassed the inhabitants by numerous plundering inroads, and ultimately accomplished permanent settlements here, maintaining for a long time a constant intercourse with their roving countrymen of the Isles. A right of supremacy over the lords of this territory was claimed by the powerful family of the northern O’Nials (now written O’Neil), who were at length deprived of the southern part of this county by the family of Savage and other English adventurers. Early in the 14th century, Edward Bruce, the Scottish chieftain, gained possession of this district by the reduction of Carrickfergus, which had long resisted the most vigorous assaults of his troops. The English, however, shortly afterwards recovered their dominion; but in 1333, William de Burgho, Earl of Ulster, being assassinated at Carrickfergus by his own servants, and his countess, with her infant daughter, seeking safety by escaping into England, the sept of O’Nial rose suddenly in arms, and, falling furiously upon the English settlers, succeeded, notwithstanding a brave and obstinate defence, in either totally extirpating them, or reducing them within very narrow bounds. The conquerors then allotted amongst themselves the extensive possessions thus recaptured from the English, and the entire district received the name of the Upper and Lower Clan-Hugh-Boy, from their leader, Hugh-Boy O’Nial. During the successful operations of Sir John Perrot, lord-deputy in the reign of Elizabeth, to reduce the province of Ulster into allegiance to the English government, he was compelled to lay siege to Dunluce Castle, on the northern coast of Antrim, which surrendered on honourable terms. This fortress having been subsequently lost through treachery, in 1585, was again given up to the English by Sorley Boy O’Donnell or Mac Donnell, the proprietor of a great extent of the surrounding country, to whom it was returned in charge.
The county is in the diocese of Connor, except part of the parish of Ballyscullion in the diocese of Derry, Lambeg in that of Down, and Aghalec in that of Dromure. For purposes of civil jurisdiction it is divided into the baronies of Upper Belfast, Lower Belfast, Upper Massareene, Lower Mas«areene, Upper Antrim, Lower Antrim, Upper Toome, Lower Toome, Upper Glenarm, Lower Upper Dunluce, Lower Dunluce, Kilconway, and Carey. It contains the borough, market, and sea-port town of Belfast; the borough and market-town of Lisburn ; the ancient disfranchised borough and market towns of Antrim and Randalstown ; the sea- port and market towns of Ballycastle, Larne, and Portrush ; the market and post towns of Ballymena, Ballymoney, Broughshane, and Glenarm; and the post-towns or post-villages of Ballinderry, Ballyclare, Bushmills, Crumlin, Cushendall, Dervock, Glenavy, Portglenone, and Toome. Connor, the ancient seat of the diocese, is now merely a village: the other largest villages are, Ballykennedy, Templepatrick, Whitehouse, Dunmurry, Kells, Doagh, Massareene, and Parkgate.
Prior to the Union this county, exclusively of the county of the town of Carrickfergus, sent ten members to the Irish parliament, namely, two knights of the shire, and two representatives for each of the boroughs of Antrim, Belfast, Lisbum, and Randalstown: from that period until 1832 it returned four members to the Imperial parliament, namely, two for the county, and one each for Belfast and Lisburn; and by the act to amend the representation, passed in that year (2. William IV., c. 88), an additional member was given to Belfast. The county constituency is 6,280, the election takes place at Carrickfergus. It is included in the
north-east circuit; the assizes are held at Carrickfergus, and the general quarter-sessions at Belfast, Antrim, Carrickfergus, Ballymena, and Ballymoney, the assistant barrister presiding. The county court-house and gaol are situated at Carrickfergus, the house of correction at Belfast, and there are bridewells at Antrim, Ballymena, and Ballymoney. The local government is vested in a lieutenant and nineteen deputy-lieutenants, who arc all justices of the peace: the entire number of magistrates is 98; besides whom there are the usual county officers, including two coroners. There are 34 constabulary police stations, having a force of 212 men, the expense of whose maintenance is defrayed equally by grand jury presentments and by government. Along the coast are 21 coast-guard stations. The district lunatic asylum is at Belfast; the county infirmary is at Lisburn; the fever hospitals, at Ballycastle, Belfast, and Lisburn; and there are two dispensaries at Belfast, and others at Crumlin, Ballymoney, Ballymena, Larne, Doagh, Randalstown, Whitehouse, Antrim, Connor, Ahoghill, Loughguile, Bushmills, Ballycastle, Broughshane, and Cushendall. supported by equal grand jury presentments and private subscriptions. The amount of grand jury presentments, in 1844, was £56,301. In the military arrangements the county is included in the Belfast district: there are barracks for artillery and infantry at Belfast; and Carrickfergus Castle, in which the ordnance stores are deposited, is appropriated as a barrack for detachments from Belfast.
The most striking features of the surface of this county are its mountains, which stretch in a regular
outline from the southern to the northern extremity, terminating on the shore in abrupt and almost perpendicular declivities. They attain their greatest elevation near the coast, and have a gradual descent inland; so that many of the principal streams have their source near the sea, and run directly thence towards Lough Neagh. Exclusively of the valleys embosomed amid them, these mountains are computed to occupy about one-third of the superficial area of the county. Between the range and the shore, in some places, are tracts of very fertile land, especially from Belfast to Carrickfergus, and thence to Larne, near which the mountains project in rugged grandeur so as nearly to overhang the sea. From Glenarm round to Bengore Head the succession of rocky headlands presents numerous striking and picturesque views broken by narrow valleys watered by mountain torrents, which give a diversified character to the romantic scenery by which this part of the coast is distinguished. The most remarkable ranges of cliffs are those of perpendicular basaltic columns, which extend for many miles, and form a coast of surpassing magnificence: their arrangement is most strikingly displayed in Fair Head and the Giant’s Causeway, which project several hundred feet into the sea, at the northern extremity of the county.
On the western side of the mountain range the valleys expand to a considerable width, and are of fertility: that of the Six-mile-water, stretching towards the town of Antrim, is particularly distinguished for its beauty and high state of cultivation. The valley of the Lagan merits especial notice for its beautiful undulating surface, its richness, the enlivening aspect of its bleach-greens, and the numerous excellent habitations, with their gardens and plantations which impart an air of cheerfulness and industry to this interesting vale. The general inclination of the surface of the mountainous region becomes less rapid as it approaches the river Bann: the flattest parts of this elevated tract are composed of turf bogs, which occupy a great space, bat are mostly susceptible of improvement. In the southern part of the barony of Toome, along the shore of Lough Neagh to the east of Shane’s Castle, the surface consists of numerous detached swells, and presents a remarkably pleasing aspect. Thence southward, along the shore of the confines of the county, lies the most extensive level tract within its limits, and one for which fertility and cultivation is nowhere surpassed. Detached basaltic eminences, in some instances attaining a mountainous elevation, are conspicuous in several parts of the county; of these, Slemish, to the south-east of Broughshane, and 1,437 feet high, is the most remarkable: and in diverse places, but generally in the lower tracts, are scattered gravelly knolls, of which those from Antrim to Kells are particularly striking. Off the northern extremity of the county, nearly seven miles distant from the town of Ballycastle, lies the island of Rathlin, about 6 1/2 miles in length by 1 1/2 in breadth, the shores of which are principally composed of precipitous basaltic and limestone rocks, rearing their heads in sublime grandeur above the waves of a wild and turbulent ocean. Off this part of the coast, also, some small islets; and a few others lie off the shore, and in Lough Neagh.
Lough Neagh which is the largest lake in the British islands, is chiefly in this county, but extends into several others : it is traditionally stated to have been formed in the year 62, by an irruption of the sea, but is obviously formed by the confluence of the Blackwater, Upper Bann, and five other rivers. This lake is about 20 British miles in length from north east to south-west, about 12 miles in extreme breadth from east to west, and 80 miles in circumference, comprising about 154 square miles: its greatest depth in the middle is 45 feet. It is 48 feet above the level of the sea at low water, and contains 98,255 1/2 statute acres, of which 50,025 are in this county, 27,355 1/2 in Tyrone, 15,556 3/4 in Armagh, 5,160 in Londonderry, and 138 in Down. The only outlet is the Lower Bann, which, being obstructed by weirs and rocks, prevents the free egress of the waters, and causes the surrounding country to be injuriously inundated in winter. In some places the waters possess medicinal properties, which they ore supposed to derive from the adjacent shore. They have also petrifying powers ; but these are supposed to exist in the soil, as petrifactions are only found in the lake near the shore of this county, while they are also found at considerable heights and depths, and at some distance from the coast, inland. Valuable hones are made of the petrified wood; and in the the shore, very hard and beautiful by the name of Lough Neagh pebbles, are found : they are chiefly chalcedony, generally yellow or veined with red, susceptible of a fine polish, and highly valued for seals and necklaces. Besides the fish usually caught in fresh-water lakes. Lough Neagh has char, a species of trout called the dollaghern, and the pullan or fresh-water herring. Swans, teal, widgeon, herons, bitterns, and several other kinds of birds, frequent its shores. Canals connect it with Belfast, Newry, and Coalisland; and a steam-boat is employed in towing trading vessels across its surface, which, although sometimes violently agitated, is scarcely ever visited by tempests, from the absence of mountains from its borders. This vast expanse of water was frozen in 1739 and 1784; and in 1814 the ice was sufficiently thick for Col. Heyland to ride from Crumlin water foot to Ram’s Island, which is the only one of any importance in the lake, and contains the remains of a round tower. Sir Arthur Chichester, in 1604, received from James I. a grant of the fisheries and of the office of Admiral of Lough Neagh, which have been held by his successors and are now vested in the Marquess of Donegal. The lake gives the title of Baron to Viscount Massareene. North of it, and connected with it by a narrow channel a mile long, over which is the handsome bridge of Toome, is Lough Beg, or “the small lake,” containing 3,144 3/4 acres, of which 1624 are in this county, and 1520 3/4 in Derry. This lake, which is generally 15 inches lower than Lough Neagh, contains four islands, and its banks are more diversified and pleasing than those of the larger lake.
The soils are of considerable variety. That of the plains and valleys is a strong loam upon clay, capable of being rendered very fertile, and in many parts interspersed with whinstones lying on or near the surface and the removal of which is necessary prepatatory tillage. On the rising grounds this kind of soil assumes a different quality, the vegetable mould diminishing in quantity, and being lighter in texture and colour; while the substratum deteriorates into a brown or yellow till. Still nearer the mountains the change becomes more apparent from the coarse and scanty produce, rocks and stones in many parts occupying nearly the entire surface, and the soil gradually acquiring a mixture of peat, and thus forming extensive moors. To the north of the Lagan, at a short distance from Belfast, commences a sandy loam which extends, with occasional interruptions, to the Maze-course, and under good management is very productive: on the shores of Lough Neagh are some tracts of a similar soil ; and small stripes of sand are found on parts of the sea-shore. Gravelly soils prevail on the irregularly disposed swells above-mentioned, which are composed of water-worn stones of different dimensions, with a loamy covering. There are several detached tracts of soils of various texture, of a superior quality, resting on a substratum of limestone; one of the most extensive lies in the parishes of Maheragall and Soldierstown. Besides the turf, a prevailing soil upon the mountains is, a peculiar loam without either cohesion or strength, which appears to be only a rust or oxyde of the softer parts of the ironstone, and which under tillage yields exceedingly scanty crops of grain, but an abundance of straw, and tolerably good crops of potatoes; its herbage forms excellent pasturage.
The main feature in the TILLAGE system of a great part of Antrim is the potato fallow, to which it owes nearly as much as Norfolk does to the turnip fallow. The principal wheat district extends along the shore of Lough Neagh and the course of the Lagan river, stretching as far north as Cairncastle, in approaching which its extent is greatly reduced by the projection of the mountainous districts. Much barley of the fourrowed or Bere species is grown on the dry and gravelly swells; but the cultivation of oats is most extensive, the straw being used as fodder for cattle, and the meal, together with potatoes, constituting the chief food of the great body of the people. The other crops of common cultivation are potatoes and flax , turnips have been grown by some agriculturists since 1774, and the quantity is yearly increasing. In some districts the grass lands are extensive and productive, although a considerable portion formerly employed as grazing pastures is now under tillage: the mountains and high lands, also, are constantly stocked with either the cattle of the proprietors, or those taken in from distant owners. Much butter is made throughout the county, and is packed in firkins containing from 60 to 80lb., and sold at Belfast, whence a large quantity is exported. Carrickfergus and Antrim have long been celebrated for cheese, some of which rivals in quality that of Cheshire.
The principal manure, besides that of the farm-yard, is lime, the produce of the county ; but the quarries being situated at its extremities, it requires much labour and expense to convey it into the interior. Near the coast, shells and sea-sand are applied, and sea-sand is also used even where it contains few shells. Great improvement has of late years been made in the agricultural implements, by introducing the best Scotch and English modes of construction. The soil being particularly favourable to the growth of the white thorn, the numerous hedges planted with it greatly enrich the appearance of the lower districts: the mountain fences consist either of loose stones collected from the surface of the ground, or of drains (called thoughs) with banks of earth. The breed of cattle has been very much improved within the last few years, particularly in the more fertile districts; the most esteemed English and Scottish breeds have been introduced, and, by judicious crosses, stock of the most valuable kind is becoming general. In several parts is a Bengal breed, imported by Sir Frag. McNaghten, Bart., and from which several crosses have been tried ; but they appear too tender to endure the cold of winter. Generally, little attention is paid to the improvement of the breed of sheep, though on the rich lands of Muckamorc and Massareene it has
been very much improved: the old native sheep are principally found in and near the barony of Carey. A very hardy and strong, though small, race of horses, partly bred in the county and partly imported from Scotland, is employed on the northern and north-eastern coast, and among the mountains ; and in Rathlin island is a breed similar to these, but still smaller. In other parts of the county the horses are of a good size and of valuable kinds, but are chiefly introduced by dealers from other counties. The long-legged flat-sided hogs formerly reared have been superseded by the best English breeds: the bacon and pork of more than 100,000 are annually exported from Belfast. The number of farms above one acre each is 24,072, on which there was in 1841 a stock of 23,901 horses and mules, 71,328 horned cattle, 18,297 sheep, 35,104 pigs, 158,586 head of poultry, and 153 asses; the whole, of the estimated value of £723,757.
There is but little natural wood in the county, the greater portion being that which surrounds Shane’s Castle, and the scattered trees on the steep banks of a few rivers. Numerous, and in some instances extensive, plantations have, however, been made in various parts; and, though there are still many wide naked tracts, there are others well clothed with wood, especially adjoining Lough Neagh, in the vicinities of Moneyglass and Drumrsymond, the valleys of the Six-mile-water, Kellswater, and the Braid, the whole extent from Lisburn to Carrickfergus, the neighbourhood of Bella hill and Castle Dobbs, of Larne, Glenarm, Benvarden, O’Harabrook, Ballynacre, Leslie hill, and Lisanoure. Of plantations, there are 63 acres oak, 211 ash, 130 elm, 26 beech, 462 fir, 8,063 mixed timber, and 1,403 fruit; besides 602,826 detached trees, equivalent to 3,768 acres of plantation: total, 14,126 acres. The greatest tracts of waste land are the highest portions of the mountain range, but even the irreclaimable bogs of these elevated tracts produce a coarse herbage, and many of the bogs which overspread to a considerable are likewise covered with verdure. Towards the southern part of the county most of the bogs have been exhausted. Coal was formerly furnished to the northern and eastern coasts from the mines of Ballycastle, but the entire supply is now from England, Wales, and Scotland.
The geology of Antrim presents a great variety of the most interesting features, and its mineral productions are of considerable importance. With the exception of a diversified district on the eastern coast and of the entire vale of the Lagan, nearly the whole is occupied by basaltic beds, presenting on the eastern and northern coasts abrupt declivities, which are truly magnificent. These secondary beds consist of enormous unstratified masses, the average depth of which is about 300 feet, though in the north, at Knock-laid, it is 980 feet; the base of that mountain is composed of mica-slate. The island of Rathlin is principally occupied by these basaltic beds, which are classified by Dr. Berger under the heads of tabular basalt, columnar basalt, greenstone, greystone, porphyry, bole or red ochre, wacke, amygdaloidal wacke, and wood-coal , and imbedded in them are, granular olivine augite, calcareous spar, steatite, zeolite, iron pyrites, glassy feldspar, and chalcedony. The beds of columnar basalt occur almost exclusively towards the northern extremity of the county and form an amazing display of natural grandeur along the shore. Besides the well-known columnar strata composing the Giant’s Causeway and the adjacent cliffs, similar strata are seen in divers parts of the county, particularly near Antrim and Kilroot: the pillars composing the Giant’s
Causeway (which is minutely described in the article on Billy), are irregular prisms standing in the closest contact, and of various forms, from three to nine sides, the hexagonal equalling in number all the rest, Slievemish, or Slemish, mountain is an enormous mass of greenstone, which likewise occurs in other situations. Porphyry occupies a considerable district to the south of Connor and Kells, and is met with in several other places, particularly near Cushendal). The remarkable substance called wood-coal occurs in thin strata at Portnoffer, Kiltymorris, Ballintoy, and elsewhere.
All the other rocks of Antrim are beneath the basaltic beds in geological position. The first is hard chalk, sometimes called white limestone, which does not average more than 200 feet in thickness, and occurs on the eastern and southern sides of the county, and on the southern coast of Rathlin island. Mulattoe, or green sandstone, next occurs, in the neighbourhood of Belfast, to the north of Carrickfergus, near Lane, at Garron Point, &c. ; and under this are found lias beds, on the coast between Garron Point and Lame, and in other places. These, together with the chalk and basalt, are based upon beds of reddish and reddish-brown sandstone of various textures, which are found under the entire south-eastern border of the county, in several detached spots along the eastern coast, and in considerable tracts from Red bay to Ballycastle : the upper strata form a marl, in which are veins of gypsum. The coal district of Ballycastle comprises an extent of about two miles along the coast; the beds, which are four feet and a half in thickness, crop out above the level of the sea, dipping to the south-east about one foot in nine, and alternate with others of sandstone and slate-clay, being themselves of a slaty quality. At Murlough bay, to the south-east of Fair head, arc six beds of coal, from one to two feet and a half thick, consisting of partly bituminous and partly carbonaceous or blind coal. The only rocks lying under the strata of the great coal district, besides the primitive rocks of mica-slate, &c, already mentioned, are those of “old red sandstone,” between the bays of Cushendall and Cushendun. All the above-mentioned strata are occasionally intersected and dislocated by remarkable dykes of basalt or whinstone, varying from three inches to sixteen feet in width. Sometimes very minute dykes or veins of greenstone penetrate these enormous beds of basalt, and such are particularly observable near Portrush, where they are seen in the face of the cliff not more than an inch broad.
Chert is also found in abundance and variety at Portrush. Fullers’-earth exists in the basaltic district, in which also a rough tripoli is found at Agnew’s Hill, and a vein of steatite or French chalk in the path to the Gobbins. In Belfast Lough, lying under the level of the ordinary tides, but generally left bare at the ebb, is a stratum of submarine peat and timber, in which nuts are singularly petrified on the east and west sides of the lough. Numerous organic remains are also found in the beds of chalk ; large and beautiful crystals occur in the basaltic region, particularly near the Giant’s Causeway, where agates, opal, and chalcedony are met with in different situations. Of all this variety of subterranean productions, the coal has been procured to the greatest extent. The collieries of Ballycastle, once flourishing, are not now worked, owing to the difficulty of getting to the dip of the old excavations, as well as from the want of a safe harbour for shipping the coal; they were twelve in number, and exported from 10,000 to 15,000 tons annually. Gypsum or alabaster is dug in different places, and the various species of stone are quarried in spots convenient for building and other purposes.
As this county is situated in the district in which the linen and cotton manufactures are most vigorously carried on, a brief historical view of the progress of these branches of industry, the most valuable in the island, may here be introduced. The linen manufacture, of which Belfast is the grand mart, is most extensively pursued at Lisburn and in the surrounding country. It is of remote antiquity in Ireland, but appears to have been first particularly encouraged in the north about 1637, by Lord Strafford, who induced the Scottish and English settlers, then recently established in Ulster, to cultivate flax, offering them every facility in exporting the yarn. But this rising trade was entirely destroyed by the civil war which speedily followed, and its revival for some time effectually prevented by the competition of the French and Dutch in the English market. In I678, an act prohibiting the importation of linen from France was passed, which was soon afterwards disannulled by James 11., who afforded great encouragement to the French manufacturers. The first parliament of William III, however, declared the importation of French linens highly injurious to the interests of the three kingdoms, and the progress of the woollen trade in Ireland having alarmed the English manufacturers, the king was prevailed upon to suppress it, and re-establish in lieu the manufacture of linen, which was accordingly so much encouraged as to induce many of the Hugonots to emigrate hither from France, several of whom had carried on the trade extensively in their native country. Amongst these emigrants was Mr. Crommelin, who received from government a grant of £800 per annum, as an equivalent for the interest of capital to be expended by him in establishing the manufacture at Lisburn, with a patent for its improvement, and an additional salary of £200, on condition that, with the assistance of three other persons, also remunerated from the public purse, he should instruct the Irish farmers in the cultivation of flax, which had been altogether neglected for upwards of half a century. These and similar efforts, aided by protecting legislative enactments, produced the most important results: a board of trustees of the linen and hempen manufacturers was established under an act passed in 1711. At this period the value of the exports did not exceed £6,000 per annum. But in the early part of the reign of George I., a linen-hall having been erected in Dublin, and a board of management appointed, authorised by parliament annually to employ a large specific sum in the importation and gratuitous distribution of flax seed, and in awarding premiums for the extension and improvement of the trade, the annual imports, before the year 1730, had increased in value to upwards of £400,000. In twenty years more they exceeded one million sterling ; and of such importance was the success of this staple manufacture deemed, that £12,000 were annually granted by parliament for its better protection. During this rapid growth, numerous abuses crept in, and the most obnoxious frauds were practised by the weavers in the length and quality of their webs; for the suppression of which, several acts were passed in vain, until the provisions of the act of the 33rd of George II. were enforced, on the southern border of this county, by Lord Hillsborough and Mr. Williamson. Their persevering activity rendering it impossible for
the weavers any longer to evade the law, while the bleachers and merchants were convinced of the advantages to be derived from its observance, the sealing of brown linen by deputed responsible officers, to attest its quantity and quality, became general throughout the whole province, and continues to be practised with equal strictness at present. In 1784, the value of brown linens sold in the markets of Ulster was £1,914,560; and for several years prior and subsequent to the Union, the total exports amounted in value to upwards of £3,600,000, of which nearly one-half was the produce of the county of Antrim. Some conception of the present extent of the manufacture may be derived from the fact, that at one only of the numerous bleach-greens about 80,000 pieces of linen are finished annually, and at many others nearly the same number.
Prior to the accession of George II., every branch of the manufacture was performed by the same parties. Machinery was first invented and applied in the operation of washing, rubbing, and beetling, at Ballydrain, in the parish of Belfast, in 1795, and, as the manufacture extended, the process of bleaching became a separate business; the bleacher became a merchant, bought the brown linens in the open market, and made this business one of the most important branches of the trade. Owing, however, to the improvements in machinery, and to the aid afforded by the application of chymical preparations, the present number of bleach-greens is not so great as formerly, notwithstanding the vast increase in the produce of the manufacture. So late as 1761, the only acid used in bleaching was buttermilk: in 1764, Dr. James Ferguson, of Belfast, received from the Linen Board a premium of £300 for the successful application of lime, and in 1770 he introduced the use of sulphuric acid ; ten years subsequently, potash was first used, and, in 1795, chloride of lime was introduced: the articles now generally used are, barilla, American ashes, chloride of lime, and vitriol. The fine material which first induced competition and the offer of a bounty was, cambrics ; the attention of the Board was next directed to the production of damasks and diapers; many looms were given to the weavers in the counties of Down and Antrim ; and so great a degree of perfection has the weaving of damasks attained, that the Lisburn and Ardoyne manufactures adorn the tables of most of the sovereigns of Europe. Every species of fabric, from the coarsest canvas to the finest cambric, is now manufactured here from flax which is cultivated, and prepared in all its stages, in the province of Ulster.
The cotton trade, which has become of such importance in the north of Ireland, was introduced in 1777, merely as a source of employment for the children in the poor-house at Belfast, by Mr. Robert Joy and Thomas McCabe, who, unable to secure individual cooperation, offered the machinery, which was then of the most improved description, to the managers of the charitable institution, at prime cost. But the latter refusing to embark in a speculation altogether novel in Ireland, Messrs. Joy, Mc Cabe, and Mc Cracken formed themselves into a company, erected buildings, introduced new machinery, and generously opened their works to the public, at a time when it was endeavoured in England to keep the nature of the improved machinery a secret In 1779 they commenced the manufacture of calico, dimities, and Marseilles quilting ; and introduced the use of the fly shuttle. This branch of the trade soon acquiring considerable celebrity, many persons were induced to embark in it; a mill for spinning twist by water was erected at Whitehouse, near Belfast, in 1784, from which period may be dated the fixed establishment of the cotton manufacture , and so rapid was thenceforward its progress that, in 1800, in Belfast and the surrounding country, within a circuit of ten miles, it furnished employment to upwards of 13,000 individuals, or, including those indirectly connected with it, to 97,000. In 1811, the number of bags of cotton-wool imported into Belfast was 14,390, and the number exported, 3,007 ; leaving for home consumption 11,313, worth £996,960, and, when manufactured, worth about one million sterling. The number of spinners in the mills, at the same period, was estimated at 99,000; of weavers, including attendants on looms, 95,000; and, engaged in bleaching, embroidery, and making looms, reels, &c, about 5,000 more. The manufacture has been since still further extended, and every description of cotton fabric is now produced.
In addition to the two above-named important branches of manufacture, there are, in this county, at Belfast some canvas and rope manufactories, and extensive paper-mills in various places. Woollen stockings are woven in several of the towns; soap and candles arc made for exportation and home consumption; the manufacture of chloride of lime and vitriol, for which there is a great demand in the bleach-greens, has long been carried on at Lisburn and Belfast; and the manufacture of leather, though not so extensive as formerly, is still considerable throughout the county. At Belfast are several large iron-foundries and glass manufactories and at Lisburn, works for turning and fluting iron. Hence the commerce of this county is very extensive: the exports are, linens, linen-yarn, cotton goods, all kinds of grain, pork, bacon, hams, beef, butter, eggs, lard, potatoes, soap, and candles; and the imports consist of the raw materials for the cotton manufacture, also coal, and the various foreign articles of consumption required by the numerous population. There is an extensive salmon-fishery along the coast at Carrickarede, between Ballintoy and Kenbane Head; and this fish is also caught at different places along the entire coast north of Glenarm, and also in the rivers Bann and Bush: all the other rivers, except the Lagan, are likewise frequented by salmon; and all abound with eels, which are taken at weirs in the Bann. There is a great variety of other valuable fish off the coast; of testaceous fish this shore affords the lobster and the crab, and oysters of superior size and flavour are found in Carrickfergus bay; the seal is common.
The two largest rivers are the Lagan and the Bann, both of which rise in the county of Down. The Lagan forms the boundary of the counties of Antrim and Down, until it joins the wide estuary called the Bay of Belfast, or Belfast Lough; and with the aid of several cuts it has been made navigable as high as Lisburn, forming part of the navigation between Belfast and Lough Neagh. The Bann enters the county from the county of Armagh, at the Bann-foot ferry, through Lough Neagh and Lough Beg (thence it northward, forming the boundary between Antrim and Londonderry, on to Coleraine, below which it falls into the sea. Most of the rivers strictly belonging to the county rise in the mountains on the coast, and, owing to the rapidity and shortness of their currents, are unnavigable. The Bush rises in Cairnlough mountain, in the parish of Loughguile, and running a zigzag course, for about thirteen miles, and passing by Dervock, falls into the sea at the village of Bushmills. The Main rises in the parish of Kilranghts, and flowing southward, runs at the Main-water foot into Lough Neagh, of which it is one of the principal feeders: its tributaries are, the Ravel, the Braid, and the Glenwherry, all plentiful streams. The Six-mile-water rises in the parish of Kilwaughter, and, flowing westward, empties itself into Lough Neagh at Antrim bay. The Camlim, or Crumlin, rises in the parish of the same name, and flowing a short distance, also falls into Lough Neagh, at Sandy bay: the denary rises in the parish of that name, and intersecting it, empties itself in the same way as the Camlin. The rapidity of these and the smaller rivers renders their banks peculiarly advantageous sites for bleach -greens, cotton-mills, and flour and corn mills, the last of which arc especially numerous. The only artificial line of navigation is the Belfast Canal, or Lagan Navigation. The Lagan Navigation Company were incorporated by an act of the 27th of George III., empowering them to levy a duty of one penny per gallon on beer, and fourpence per gallon on spirits, in the excise district of Lisburn , but these duties having been repealed, an equivalent sum was annually paid to the company by government, until the year 1835, when their right ceased. The line is navigable for vessels of fifty tons’ burthen, and the entire length from Lough Neagh to the quays of Belfast is twenty-two miles; its construction was powerfully aided by the noble family of Chichester, and the expense amounted to £62,000, raised by debentures.
The roads of late years have been gradually improved, the materials that exist within the county for making and repairing them being of the best quality. An important and very difficult work, called the Antrim Coast Road, from Lame to Ballycastle, has been executed under the immediate control of the Board of Public Works. It opens an improved communication with a fine tract of country comprehended between the coast and the range of mountains from Carrickfergus to Ballycastle, and hitherto cut off from any reasonable means of intercourse, by the badness of the roads over those mountains, some of which were
conducted for miles at slopes varying from one yard in six to one in twelve. Many projects had been formed, at different times, for an improved line, but had been abandoned on account of the great expense involved in the execution of them ; at length a plan with a moderate estimate was sanctioned by the Commissioners of Works, and they and the grand jury granted about £18,000 for carrying it into effect. The new road proceeds from Lame close along the shore to Black Cave, where it winds round the promontory of Ballygalley Head, passing by Glenarn, Cairnlough, Garron Head, and Waterfoot, to Cushendall, where it strikes off inland to its northern terminus at Ballycastle, taking in the few portions of the old line that were available, difficulties encountered in its formation the necessity of conducting the road, in part of its line, under a considerable extent of rock some hundreds of feet in height, having its base washed by the open sea , and from its passing along portions of very steep hills of moving clay bank. The former obstacle presented itself at the bold headland of Glenarm deerpark, where about 30,000 cubic yards of rock were, by blasting with great care and judgment, hurled in immense masses down upon the shore; and the road, 21 feet in clear width, and 10 feet above the highest tides, has been floored partly on the loose and partly on the solid rock. The latter obstacle occurred more particularly at the base of the hill of Cloony, and was by far the more serious, from the slippery nature of the clay banks and their tendency to move over the road. To counteract this inconvenience the engineer, after having thrown down, so as to form a sufficient flooring, very large masses of detached rock which were found strewed over the face of the bank, proposed to construct a revetment wall, from the summit of which any gradual accumulation of the slippery bank might from time to time be removed. Very solid piers of heavy rough blocks were deeply bedded into the bank, 30 feet apart, to be connected by substantial walls having a vertical curvilinear batter combined with an arched horizontal curve, to which the piers form the abutments. The entire distance being also concave, a powerful combination of resistance is afforded against the pressure. The old rood passes over the hill at an elevation of nearly 200 feet above the sea, with slopes of one in six and upwards ; while the line along the coast is nearly level. A new road has likewise been opened from Belfast to Lisburn , another from Belfast to Antrim, which is continued to Ballymoney, Ballymena, and Coleraine; and a third from Belfast to Crumlin. A line has been made from Ballymoney to Dervock, crossing a large and valuable tract of bog; and others lead respectively from Whitewell-brae to Ballyclare and Ballymena, from Belfast to Carrickfergus and Larne, from Glenavy to Moira, from Doagh to Ballymena, and from Ballymena to Cushendall. But the most important and expensive is the road from Belfast to Derry, lately opened. The line from Belfast to Carrickfergus and Larne, and that from Antrim to Coleraine (the latter being part of the Derry road), were undertaken with the sanction of the Commissioners of Public Works. The railways are noticed in the articles on the towns where the termini are placed.
The remains of antiquity of earliest date consist of cairns or barrows, cromlechs, raths or intrenchments, and mounts differing in magnitude and form. The most remarkable of the cairns is that on Colin mountain, about three miles north of Lisburn; there is also one on Slieve True, to the west of Carrickfergus, and there are two on Colinward. Near Cairngrainey, to the north-east of the old road from Belfast to Templepatrick, is the cromlech most worthy of especial notice: it has several table stones resting on numerous upright ones; and near it is a large mount, also several fortified posts different from all others in the county. There is like-wise a large cromlech at Mount Druid, near Ballintoy; at the northern extremity of Island Magee is another; and Hole Stone, to the east of the road from Antrim to Glenavy, appears to be a relic of the Druids. Of forts and intrenchments, there is every variety which exists in Ireland ; and so numerous are they, that the parishes of Killead and Mucknmore alone contain two hundred and thirty, defended by one or more ramparts; besides ten mounts, two of them containing caves, and of which that caUed Donald s Mount is a fine specimen of this kind of earthwork. Among the most remarkable of the other intrenchments in the county are, one at Donegore, one at Kilconway, one at the Clough-water; one at Dunethery, which is planted with trees; one with a square outwork at Dunmacaltar, in the parish of Culfeightrin; Dunmaul fort, near Nappan; one at Cushendall, having a castle within its defences, and probably a Danish relic ; one at Drumfane on the Braid, one at Camlent-Oldchurch, and another in a bog near Ballykennedy. One near Connor has outworks exactly resembling those at Dromorc, and in another near Carrickfergus have been found some curious Danish trumpets. Stone hatchets or celts of various sizes have been discovered in several places, but in the greatest numbers near Ballintoy. Arrow-beads of flint, spear-heads of brass, and numerous miscellaneous relics, have been found. There have also been discovered a Roman antiquities, supposed to be relics of the spoil obtained by the Irish Scots in their plunder of South Britain, in
alliance with the Picts. Of the singular round towers, the original purpose of which has been a fertile source of almost innumerable conjectures, there are at present four in this county , viz., one at Antrim, one on Ram’s Island in Lough Neagh, a fragment of one near the oldchurch at Trummery, between Lisburn and Moira, and one in the churchyard of Armoy.
Archdall enumerates forty-eight religions establishments as having existed in this county, but adds, that twenty of them were in his time unknown; and now scarcely can the existence of half the entire number be established by positive evidence. There are still interesting remains of those of Bonamargy, Kells, Glenarm, Glynn near Lame, Muckamore, and White Abbey to the west of the road from Belfast to Carrickfergus; and extensive ruins of other religious edifices, in the several townlands of Dundesert, Ballykennedy, and Carmavy, in the parish of Killead. Of ancient fortresses, that of Carrickfergus, which has always been the strongest and most important, is the only one in complete preservation. There arc interesting ruins of Green Castle, to the west of the road between Belfast and Carrickfergus ; Olderfleet Castle, situated at the extremity of the peninsula which forms one side of the harbour of Larne; Castle Chichester, near the entrance to the peninsula of Island Magee; Red Bay Castle; and the Castle of Court Martin, near Cushendall Near the northern coast are likewise several old castles, some of which arc very difficult of access, and must have been fortresses of great strength prior to the use of artillery: of these the principal are, Dunluce, remarkable for its amazing extent and romantic situation, Dunseverick, Kenbane, Doonaninny, and Castle Carey. In Rathlin Island arc the remains of Bruce’s Castle. Inland are also many remains of fortified residences, of which Shane’s Castle, the venerable seat of the O’Nials, was destroyed by fire in 1816: Castle Upton is the only mansion of this kind at present habitable. Lisanoure, a beautiful seat on the banks of Lough Guile, is so called from an old fort in the vicinity. Near the summit of White Mountain, two miles north of Lisburn, are the extensive remains of Castle Robin; and at Portmore, near the Little Lough in Ballinderry, are similar remains. Among the mansions of the nobility and gentry, few are splendid, though many are of considerable elegance. There are numerous mineral springs: one near Ballycastle is chalybeate, another aluminous and vitriolic, and a third, on Knocklaid mountain, chalybeate; at Kilroot is a nitrous water of a purgative quality; and near Carrickfergus are two salt-springs, one at Bella hill, and the other in Island Magee. There are also various natural caverns, of which the most remarkable arc, those of the picturesque mountain called Cave Hill; a curious and extensive cavity at Black-Cave-head, to the north of Larne; a cave of larger dimensions under Red Bay Castle , one under Dunluce Castle ; the cave at Port Coon, near the Giant’s Causeway ; and those of Cushendun and the white rocks, near Dunluce. Besides these, there are numerous artificial caves.
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