Wednesday, 14 April 2021



RATHCAVAN, or Racavan, a parish in the barony of Lower Antrim, County Antrim.

It contains the town of Broughshane.

The surface reaches to within three miles of Glenarm, and descends to within ½ a mile of Ballymena; and it includes the greater part of the southern half of the valley of the Braid, and a grand and romantic portion of the heights which are piled round the central watershed of the county.

Slemish mountain, the highest ground, has an altitude above sea-level of 1,457 feet.

The soil of the valley grounds is light in colour and in texture; and though well cultivated, and favourable for potatoes and oats, it is not suitable for wheat, or even for barley.

Slemish and the Braid (Image: William Alfred Green)

Whether its comparative infertility is occasioned by some property in itself or by the vicinity of the mountains, seems not to have been ascertained.

Yet the whitethorn [hawthorn], which is supposed to indicate considerable strength of subsoil, flourishes in the district, and well-kept fences of it ornament much of the country between Broughshane and Ballymena, and impart to the landscape an aspect of improvement and comfort.

The road from Ballymena to Glenarm, and that from Carrickfergus to Ballymoney, intersect each other in the interior.

This parish is a rectory, and part of the benefice of Skerry, in the diocese of Connor.

The church was built [in 1765] at the private expense of the ancestor of the EARL O'NEILL [Charles O'Neill].

There is a small, ancient church-yard at some distance from the main road, and difficult of access; it is of triangular form and well walled, and is now used exclusively as a burial place for Presbyterians.

A large fair is held at Broughshane on the 17th August, for horses, cattle, and pigs; and great numbers of carcasses of pigs are sold in the market every Tuesday, to the agents of the Belfast merchants.

The parish is within the jurisdiction of the manorial court of Buckna, held every month at Broughshane, for the recovery of debts not exceeding £20. 

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