Monday, 12 July 2021

Dunluce

EDITED EXTRACTS FROM THE TOPOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF IRELAND, 1849

DUNLUCE, a parish, in the barony of Lower Dunluce, County Antrim, six miles from Coleraine, on the road to the Giant's Causeway.

This parish, which gives its name to the barony, was anciently called Portcaman, and distinguished as the residence of the celebrated chieftain McQuillan, who was lord of a castle of which the original foundation is not precisely known.

McQuillan, who was brave, hospitable, and improvident, unwarily suffered the Scots around him to increase in strength, till at length they expelled him from all his possessions; and SORLEY BOY, brother of James MacDonnell, having obtained possession of the district known as the Glynnes, made himself master also of this place.

But Sir John Perrot, the Lord Deputy of Ireland, assaulted the intruder, and, after a vigorous resistance, drove him from the castle, in which he placed Sir Peter Carey, whom he thought to be a man of the English pale, as governor, with a garrison of fourteen soldiers.

Sir Peter, who was in reality one of the Carews of the north, brought around him some of his own country and kindred, and unknown to the Lord Deputy, discharged the English soldiers; two of his garrison, however, confederating with the party of MacDonnell, drew up fifty of them by night into the castle, and these having taken possession of the fortress by surprise, attacked and slew the governor and a few of his companions.

On this event, which took place in 1585, the Lord Deputy despatched to the assault of the castle an officer named Merriman, who slew the two sons of James MacDonnell and Alexander, the son of Sorley Boy, and so harassed the latter by driving away the vast herds of cattle which were his only wealth, that he surrendered Dunluce, and repaired to Dublin to make his submission; which was accepted; and on condition of his fidelity to the English crown, and payment of a tribute of cattle and hawks, he received a regrant of all his possessions, with the government of Dunluce Castle.

This family was afterwards ennobled by the title of EARL OF ANTRIM; and in 1642, General Monro, commander of the Scottish army in Ulster, with a party of his forces, paid a friendly visit to the Earl, by whom he was hospitably received; but at the conclusion of the entertainment, Monro gave the signal to his armed followers, who instantly made the Earl prisoner and seized the castle, and this act was followed soon afterwards by the seizure of all his possessions.

The parish, which is within a mile and a half of the Giant's Causeway, extends for a considerable distance along the coast, and, according to the Ordnance Survey, comprises 9,381 statute acres.

The land is fertile and generally in the highest state of cultivation; the system of agriculture is in a very improved state; there is very little waste land, some excellent pasturage, and a bog of about 500 acres.

Limestone abounds, and to the westward of Dunluce Castle are the White Rocks lime-works, the most extensive in the north of Ireland.

There are numerous quarries of basalt, and great quantities of flint are exported.

Coal exists on the estate of JOHN MONTGOMERY, but no mines have yet been worked.

The principal gentlemen's seats are BENVARDEN, that of J Montgomery; SEAPORT, of J Leslie; BEARDIVILLE, of Sir F W Macnaghten, Bt; and the Cottage, of F D Ward; there are also some elegant sea-bathing lodges at Portballintrae.

The manufacture of paper affords employment to 190 persons, who, with the aid of the most advanced machinery, are engaged in making the finer kinds of paper for the English, Scottish, and home markets.

A facility of conveyance for the produce of the quarries and lime-works, and for the various sorts of merchandise, is afforded by the small but commodious port of Portballintrae.

A fair is held annually on November 12th, and petty sessions for the district every fortnight at Bushmills.

The living is a consolidated rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Connor, and in the patronage of the Bishop.

The glebe house was built by a gift of £400 [£45,000 in 2021] and a loan of £300 from the Board of First Fruits, in 1812; the glebe comprises 20 acres.

The church, a handsome edifice, situated at the extremity of the parish, near Bushmills, was erected in 1821, on the site of an ancient church, which was a ruin in 1625.

About 80 children are taught in the public schools, of which the parochial school is chiefly supported by the rector; and a female school was built and endowed by Mrs Montgomery.

There are also three private schools, in which are about 160 children, and four Sunday schools.

A dispensary was established at Bushmills in 1830, for the parishes of Dunluce, Billy, and Dunseverick.

Dunluce Castle (Image: Tripadvisor, 2019)

The ruins of Dunluce Castle are remarkable for their extent and picturesque appearance, especially when viewed from the shore immediately below; the fortified parts occupy the summit of a rock projecting into the sea, and separated from the adjacent cliffs by a deep chasm, over which is an arch forming the only entrance, defended on one side by a wall only 13 inches in thickness.

There appears to have been a corresponding wall in a parallel direction with the former, which together were probably the parapets of the bridge.

Computer Regeneration of Dunluce Castle (Image: Daily Mail)

The domestic apartments and offices, of which the remains are extensive, were situated on the mainland, and though at a distance appearing only as a massive rugged pile, upon a nearer approach display characteristics of architectural beauty.

Underneath the castle is a natural cavern forming a noble apartment, the walls and roof of which are of rude basalt.

Near the castle is a very large Danish camp.

Splendid specimens of opal, jasper, and carnelian are found upon the shore. 

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