From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland – By Samuel Lewis.
Comprising the Several Counties, Cities, Boroughs, Corporate, Market and Post Towns, Parishes, and Villages with Historical and Statistical Descriptions
BALLYMONEY, a market and post-town, and a parish, partly in the north-east liberties of COLERAINE, county of LONDONDERRY, and partly in the barony of KILCONWAY, but chiefly in that of UPPER DUNLUCE, county of ANTRIM, and province of ULSTER, 35 miles (N. W.) from Belfast, and 119 miles (N. by W.) from Dublin; containing 11,579 inhabitants, of which number, 2222 are in the town. This place was anciently, the head of one of those Irish districts called Tuoghs, which were similar to the present baronies; and in a grant from the crown, by which it was given to Alexander Mac Donnel, it was designated Tuogh Ballymoney, that is, “the district of the town in the bog,” part of it at present being situated on a bog several feet in depth. The parish is bounded on the west by the river Bann, which passes within three miles of the town, and is intersected by the road from Belfast to Derry. The town is built upon an eminence, and from its situation is considered healthy: a new line of mail coach road is now being constructed to pass through it, and in every respect it is rapidly improving. A new road has been opened across the Garry bog leading to Ballycastle and the Giant’s Causeway, and a bridge has been lately erected over the river Bann at Agivey, about three miles distant, opening a direct communication with the county and city of Derry, Tyrone, and other places. Races were formerly held here and were in high repute; but they have been discontinued for some years, and a steeple chace for a gold cup has been substituted, which takes place in the middle of December.
The trade consists principally in the sale of linens manufactured in the neighbourhood, for which this town is, next to Ballymena, the chief depot. The linen market has long been established, and is eminent for the superior quality of the goods sold here. Though much less extensive than it was, it is still very considerable: from 15,000 to 20,000 double pieces are annually sold, and on the first Thursday in every month large quantities of seven-eighths linen, of various qualities, are sold here, principally for the London market, under the name of “Coleraines,” being purchased and bleached by the persons engaged in that trade. Some years since, the finer pieces sold at very high prices, generally from 7s. to 8s. per yard, and some of the finest webs at 10s. 6d. per yard.
There are two markets every month for low-priced brown linens, three quarters of a yard wide, which are sent to England and America: but the demand for these latter goods have decreased. A very extensive trade is carried on in grain, butter, pork, and general provisions. The market for grain was first established in 1820; but for want of encouragement it languished for a time and was discontinued; in 1831 it was revived, and the new market-place was appropriated to its use, and stores were built by Messrs. McEldeny & Co., for the use of which and for weighing they are entitled to one penny per sack; a considerable quantity of oats is sent to Liverpool, London, and other English markets, and some are consumed in a distillery near the town. The market for provisions was established about the year 1790, and has since been gradually increasing and is now largely supplied: about 4000 carcases of pigs are generally sold during the season, which are principally cured at home for the Liverpool and other English markets; they were formerly all sent to Belfast, and a considerable number are still purchased by the curers of that place. A public crane was established under the provisions of an act of the 52nd of George III. In the market for butter about 10,000 casks are generally disposed of during the season, the greater part of which is shipped off from Portrush, about 9 miles distant, for Liverpool.
There are a soap and candle and a tobacco manufactory, a tanyard, and a large brewery in the town; and at Moore Fort, about 3 miles distant, is a very extensive distillery belonging to James Moore, Esq., in which from 50,000 to 60,000 gallons of whiskey are annually made: there is also a mill for spinning flax, and a very extensive flour-mill. A branch of the Belfast banking company has been established here. The trade of the town is susceptible of great increase, from its favourable situation in the centre of a rich tract of country, without any markets nearer to it than Ballymena on the one side, and Coleraine on the other. There is, however, but little facility of water carriage, the river Bann not being navigable above Coleraine, nor below Portna. The general market is on Thursday; and fairs are held annually on May 6th, July 10th, and Oct. 10th. A chief constabulary police station has been fixed here. The manorial court for the barony of Dunluce is held in the town on the first Friday in every month; petty sessions are held every alternate Thursday; and the quarter sessions for the county are held here and at Ballymena alternately. The court-house or town-hall, the property of Lord Mark Kerr, is situated in the centre of the town; and the bridewell, recently built, contains seven cells, with day-rooms and airing-yards adapted to the classification of prisoners, and apartments for the keeper.
The parish comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 23,108 ¾ statute acres, of which 21,736 ½ are in Upper Dunluce, and 753 ¼in Kilconway; 18,367 are applotted under the tithe act; about 500 acres are woodland, 2225 bog, 59 ½ water, and the remainder principally arable land. The soil is fertile, and the system of agriculture greatly improving: the principal crops, till within the last few years, were barley and oats, of which last great quantities are still grown in the neighbourhood; but the cultivation of wheat has been recently introduced, and is rapidly increasing; abundant crops are now raised and begin to form a material portion of the corn trade. Coal and iron-stone are found in abundance at O’Hara Brook; and there are medicinal springs on several parts of the estate.
The principal seats are O’Hara Brook, that of C. O’Hara, Esq.; Leslie Hill, of J. Leslie, Esq.; Ballynacree, of Sampson Moore, Esq.; Moore Fort, of J. Moore, Esq.; Greenville, of J. R. Moore, Esq.; Stranocum, of J. Hutchinson, Esq.; and Vine Cottage, of J. Thompson, Esq. The parish comprises the ancient parishes of Ballymoney, Dunlap, Kilmoil, and Tullagore; it is a rectory, in the diocese of Connor, and is the corps of the precentorship in the cathedral of Connor, which is in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £1015. 7. 7 ½., and the gross income of the precentorship is returned by the Commissioners of Ecclesiastical Inquiry at £1073. 10. 8. per annum. The church, a large plain edifice with a tower and cupola, was built in 1782, near the site of an ancient church, of which there are still some remains. The glebe-house is situated on a glebe of 20 acres.
In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also that of Dunluce, in both of which are chapels in which the parish priest officiates. There are places of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster, for those of the Remonstrant Synod, Seceders, and Covenanters; the first is a first class congregation, and that of the Seceding Synod a second class. A school was established in 1813 by the trustees of Erasmus Smith’s fund. Sampson Moore, Esq., J. Leslie, Esq., and C. O’Hara, Esq., have each built and endowed schools on their own estates, for the education of the poor; and there are also other schools in different parts of the parish. In these schools are about 200 boys and 100 girls; and there are 13 private schools, in which are about 300 boys and 200 girls, and 11 Sunday schools. A mendicity association for suppressing vagrant mendicity, by giving employment and relief to the poor at their own dwellings, was established in 1821, and a dispensary in 1827. On the estate of Major Rowan is a fine moat, commanding a very extensive view; there is also another at Moore Fort, and one in the townland of Cross. A double patera of gold, weighing 19 ounces and 10 drachms, of elegant form and curious workmanship, was discovered in this parish by a peasant a few years since.
Although the Topographical Dictionary of Ireland – By Samuel Lewis wasn’t published until 1837 – it notes: “The census of 1831 has been adopted with reference to the population and number of houses ; and the Reports of the Commissioners on Ecclesiastical Revenue and Patronage, of Ecclesiastical Inquiry, and of Public Instruction, have furnished much valuable matter relative to the Church.”
The dates of the photos published, from the Lawrence Collection; do not necessarily coincide with the date of the article.