Jim Thornycroft A brief guide to my family's ancestors
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My family's ancestors
The Pedigrees
The ancestors
0002 Jim Thornycroft
0004 Ron Thornycroft
0006 Martin Edward Magee
0008 John Thorneycroft
0010 Daniel Bowman
0012 Martin Magee
0014 Thomas Pollard
0016 Joseph Thorneycroft
0018 George Parry
0020 James Bowman
0022 Peter McAloon
0024 Patrick Magee
0026 Edward Cloonan
0028 John Pollard
0030 John Leader
0032 John Thorneycroft
0034 John Hope
0036 James Parry
0038 Patrick Barry
0040 Archibald Bowman
0042 Charles Binstead
0044 Owen McAloon
0046 William Byrne
0058 Jeremiah Hoyne
0060 Patrick Leader
0062 John Williams
0064 John Thorneycroft
0128 John Thorneycroft
0256 Richard Thorneycroft
0512 Joseph Thorneycroft
1024 Richard Thorneycroft
2048 Matthew Thornicraft
4096 Laurence Thornicroft
8192 Edward Thornicroft
The Irish origins
The English origins
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My family's irish origins

Table of Contents

  1. The Bowmans of Portglenone
    1. Where is Portglenone?
  2. Early Gaelic Ireland
    1. Brehon Laws
    2. Introduction
    3. The Brehons
    4. Assemblies
    5. The Rig
    6. The Tuath
    7. The Fine
    8. Types of Tenure and Gavelkind
    9. Right of Tenure
    10. Those without Rights
    11. Law of Contract
    12. Criminal Law
    13. Compensation
    14. Fosterage and education
    15. Law of Distress
  3. The Survival of Gaelic Culture
    1. The Influence of the Catholic Church
    2. The Effect of English Rule
  4. Portglenone in the 1830s
    1. A Glossary of Terms
      1. Province
      2. Barony
      3. County
      4. Parish
      5. Townland
      6. District Electoral Division/Ward
      1. The Ordnance Survey Memoirs
        1. Map of the Civil Parishes of County Antrim
        2. The Townlands of the Parish of Portglenone
        3. The Name
        4. The Townlands of the Parish of Ahoghill
        5. The Name
        6. The Townlands of the Parish of Craigs
        7. The Townlands of the Parish of Kirkinriola
      1. Topography
        1. Surface and Soil
        2. Rocks
        3. Roads
        4. Hills
        5. River Bann
        6. Main River
        7. Clough River
        8. Braid River
        9. Springs
        10. Bogs
        11. Woods
        12. Climate
        13. Ballymena and the Irish Linen Industry
      1. A land of legends
        1. Early Ireland
        2. Neolithic Period
        3. Bronze Age
        4. Iron Age
        5. Amusements and Habits of the people
        6. Slemish Mountain and St Patrick
        7. Lough Neagh and Finn MacCool
        8. Gortfad and St. Columba
        9. Templemoyle Burial Ground
        10. Old Church and Graveyard at Craigs
        11. Altar Green
        12. McQuillan Castle
        13. Druidical Circles and Cairns
        14. Other Standing Stones
        15. Fort Hill
        16. Forts and Coves
        17. Neolithic and Bronze Age weapons
      2. The Parish of Ahoghill
        1. The town of Portglenone
        2. Portglenone House and the Cistercian Monastery
        3. The Public Buildings
        4. The Town's Houses
        5. The village of Ahoghill
        6. The village of Galgorm
        7. The village of Cullybackey
        8. The community of Gracehill
        9. Population
        10. Library
        11. Education
        12. Religion
        13. Emigration
        14. Markets and Fairs
        15. Food Supply
        16. Public Transport
        17. Carriage of Goods

    The Bowmans of Portglenone

    Where is Portglenone?

    We know from the death certificates of Daniel and James Bowman, that their place of birth was Portglenone, Ireland. Beyond that, we know little; but there is a lot to learn about Portglenone, the county of Antrim, and the province of Ulster which can tell us something of the world in which they’d lived, and of the culture which helped shape our lives.


    The town of Portglenone is 208 kms north of Dublin and 54 kms north-west of Belfast. It is on the east bank of the River Bann, 7 km. north of its outflow from Lough Beg, which is connected to Lough Neagh. It is in County Antrim, which is one of the six counties (Londonderry, Antrim, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Armagh and Down) which formed the province of Northern Ireland created in 1921 and which with Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan made up Ulster, one of Ireland’s traditional kingdoms. County Antrim makes up the north-east corner of Ireland. A channel of only 13 miles (21 km) separates Torr Head from the Scottish coast.

    It is also the gateway through which there has been a continuous movement of people in both directions between Ireland and Scotland since the original population arrived in mesolithic times about 6000 — 10,000 B.C., and which included the plantation of Northern Ireland, the ‘most successful Scottish colony of all time’ [1]. It began in the reign of James VI of Scotland before he became James I of England, when attempts to pacify the Hebrides and Kintyre by settling them with lowlanders spilled over into Antrim. Early 17th century sales of confiscated land found more takers in the Scottish lowlands and by mid-century the Scots population had risen to 40-50,000, and may have doubled by the end of it. [2]

    John O’Hart, [3] under the heading Modern Irish Gentry, includes a traditional, rendering of the family names that came into Ireland with the Cromwellian Settlement or with the Revolution which includes the name Bowman. The name is also included in The Surnames of Scotland, [4] where reference is made to the definition of Innes’ Legal Antiguities (p. 266) as "a person who farms for a season the tenant’s milk-cows, and the pasture to maintain them," and to James Macdonald’s Local place names (p. 128) who says "as far as I have observed, ‘bowman’ is used in various parts of the country to designate small farmers and occasionally farm servants."

    However, there is another explanation of the origin of the name in Ireland, that applies equally well to an origin in either Gaelic pre-Anglo-Norman Ireland or Gaelic Scotland; it is given by Rev. Patrick Woulfe in Irish Names and Surrnames, who classifies Bowman as of Anglo-Norman origin, "a very numerous class," of occupation and descriptive surnames of "foreign origin." This is a very misleading term which by definition implies a non-Irish origin, that is further made meaningless by limiting the surnames classified as "Irish", to those using the Gaelic patronymics ‘O’ (‘the grandson/descendent of‘) or ‘Mac’ (‘son of’) or have been Anglicised by the elimination of the ‘O’ and ‘Mac’.

    The ancient Brehon Laws, which reveal the structure of society up to the time of the Anglo-Norman invasions in the 12th century, and which survived in many areas until the 1801 ‘union’ of the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland in the United Kingdom, distinguished between no less than 27 distinct classes of freemen, one of whom was a "bo aire", He was literally, "a cattle man." It doesn’t take more than a little imagination to see the progression from "cattle man" or "bo-man", to "bowman."

    The essence of English law implemented in Ireland by King John from 1210 on was Henry II’s simple idea of writs and juries, an administrative method that centralised the administration of justice in royal courts, and reduced the power of the local courts of manors, hundreds and shires in England and of the brehons in Ireland, but which requires, then as now, a legal identity with which to sue and be sued. In this situation, the classification of "Bowman" as of "Anglo-Norman" origin simply derives from the need of the new Anglo-Norman lords to "name’ individuals, in order to give them a necessary, and identifiable separate legal entity.

    Moreover, as Daniel and James Bowman were Catholics, it is unlikely that their ancestors were among the Calvinistic Scottish Lowlanders who came to Ulster to work on ‘plantations’ as small farmers or farm servants. But the 91 Bowman men (of a total of 237,368 men) who signed the Ulster Covenant of resistance to Home Rule on 28 September 1912, and the 65 Bowman women (of a total of 234,046 women) who signed the parallel Declaration in support of the Covenant, were likely to have had such a Scottish origin. A few of these Bowmans lived not far from Portglenone in Aughagaskins in the parish of Magherafelt in Co. Derry (Derry which was ‘planted’ whereas Amtrim wasn’t), a short distance away on the road from Ballymena to Derry. There are also records of Bowman freeholders voting before 1840, which given the restrictions on Catholics’ right to vote, would suggest that they were not Catholic and that there was not a single closely related family of Bowmans of Irish descent in Ulster.

    An Irishman’s right to vote was restricted by the definition of freeholder as a man who owned his land outright (in fee) or who held it by lease which could be for one or more lives. From 1727 to 1793, during the time of the Penal Laws, only Protestants with a freehold worth at least 40 shillings a year were legally permitted to vote. Between 1793 and 1829 both Protestants and Catholics with 40 shilling freeholds could vote, but in 1829 the franchise level was increased to £10, so 40 shilling freeholders were no longer allowed to vote. This last measure increased the influence of landlords by effectively confining membership of Parliament to the propertied or monied classes, Before 1872, voters were required to stand up and declare publicly their electoral allegiance. Their fear of going against the landlords’ wishes resulted in a substantial number of candidates returned being either landlords or their relations or supporters.

    The method of oral transmission of the law in early Gaelic society not only preserved the occupations and classes of free-tribesmen which offers a feasible explanation of how their name came to be given to the first Bowmans who bore it, it also suggests how it was possible for the Irish to survive the relentless attacks of their alien rulers and for Irishmen migrants like Daniel and James Bowman to bring the essence of that ancient culture to Koroit in western Victoria in the 2nd half of the 19th century, so that they cultivated not only the land they farmed but also the families they established. Oddly, each side of the 700 year wide chasm dividing the 12th from the 19th century was surveyed by two unique Irish scholars, Eugene O’Curry and John O’Donovan, undisputed authorities on Irish language and antiquities; the world of ancient Irish Gaelic life was presented in their many translations of ancient Irish texts and the world of later English colonisation and dominion, with the Ordnance Survey of Ireland from 1930-1842, until it was abandoned "because of the national memories that the work was evoking". Not only was the archaeological section of the O.S., to which O’Curry and O’Donovan had contributed, suppressed, but government officials tried to disctate to them (unsuccessfully) how they translated and compiled the texts dealing with the Brehon laws. Therefore, I’ve structured this story of our Irish origins as follows:
    1. describing what O’Curry’s and O’Donovan’s work tells us of the early Gaelic world;
    2. highlighting which parts of the fabric of that world were attacked by the Roman Catholic Church and the English monarchy and government, in their attempt to fix something that didn’t need fixing, and finally
    3. describing the world of the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of the 1830s.

    Early Gaelic Ireland

    1. Brehon Laws

    The proper name for the ancient laws of Ireland is Feineachas, meaning the laws of the Feine or Feini (fainyeh), who were the free Gaelic farmers. Laws of universal application which could be administered only by duly qualified judges were called Cain law, while minor laws administered by nobles and magistrates were called Urradhus law. Regular courts and judges existed in Ireland from prehistoric times. Brehon law is the usual term for Irish native law, as administered in Ireland down to almost the middle of the seventeenth century, and in fact amongst the native Irish until the final consummation of the English conquest. The word is derived from the Gaelic word Breitheamh (= judge) and pronounce Brehoon or Brehon. [5]

    2. Introduction

    Eugene O'Curry (d. 1962) and John O'Donovan (d. 1861), transcribed 17 volumes of manuscript from earlier copies made on vellum from the 8th to the 13th century; their work from 1842 till their deaths contained some 5,400 pages. And there were many more valuable Brehon documents still untranscribed when they died. From their work the Government, through the Brehon Law Commission (appointed in 1852), published in the Master of the Rolls series five volumes and a sixth containing a glossary as Ancient Laws of Ireland, 1865-1901. But these five large volumes do not by any means contain the whole of Irish law literature, which would probably fill at least ten such volumes. The largest and most important of these documents is the Senchus Mor or Great Old Law Book. No copy of it now existing is complete, and some portions are missing from all. What remains of it occupies the first, second, and a portion of the third of the Ancient Laws of Ireland.

    In the Annals of the Four Masters it is said: The age of Christ 438, the tenth year of King Laeghaire (Lairy), the Senchus Mor and Feineachas of Ireland were purified and written. This entry refers to the redaction of the law by St. Patrick. Of many separate treatises dealing with special branches of the law, the Book of Aicill, composed of opinions or placita of King Cormac Mac Art, otherwise Cormac ua Quim, Ard-Rig of Erinn from AD. 227 until 266, and Cennfaeladh the Learned, who lived in the first part of the 7th century, is the most important.

    The text and earlier commentaries are in the Bearla Feini the most archaic form of the Gaelic or Gaelic language. From gradual changes in the living tongue through a long expanse of time many words, phrases and idioms in the Bearla Feini became obsolete, and are so difficult to translate that the official translations are to some extent confessedly conjectural. In many cases only opening words of the original text remain.

    Wherever the text is whole, it is curt, elliptical, and yet rhythmical to a degree attainable only through long use. The rigorously authentic character of these laws, relating to, and dealing with, the actual realities of life, and with institutions and a state of society nowhere else revealed to the same extent, the extreme antiquity both of the provisions and of the language, and the meagreness of continental material illustrative of the same things, endow them with exceptional archaic, archaeological and philological interest.

    Ancient Irish law was not produced by a process resembling legislation, but grew up gradually round the dicta and judgments of the most famous Brehons. These Brehons may very well have been in old times the Irish equivalents of the Druids, atleast until the time of St. Patrick.

    The Brehons

    In the earliest times all learned men, whether specially learned in law or not, appear to have acted as judges. Gradually as literature and learning increased, judgments delivered by men without special legal training fell into disfavour. In the 1st century of the Christian era, when Conchobhar or Conor Mac Nessa was king of Ulster, a crisis was reached, the result of which was that no man was allowed to act as Brehon until he had studied the full law course, which occupied twenty years, and had passed a rigorous public examination. The course of study for Brehon and Ollamh, advocate and law-agent respectively, is carefully laid down in the law itself. The Brehonship was not an office of state like that of the modern judge, but a profession in which success depended upon ability and judgment. The Brehon was an arbitrator, umpire, and expounder of the law, rather than a judge in the modern acceptation. It appears, without being expressly stated, that the facts of a case were investigated and ascertained by laymen, probably by the local assembly or jury before submission to a Brehon for legal decision. A Brehon whose decision was reversed upon appeal was liable to damages, loss of position and of free lands, if any, disgrace, and a consequent loss of his profession. No Brehon had any fixed territorial jurisdiction. A party initiating proceedings could select any Brehon he pleased, if there were more than one in his district. Every king or chief of sufficient territory retained an official Brehon, who was provided with free land for his maintenance. In ordinary cases the Brehon’s fee was said to have been one-twelfth of the amount at stake.


    Assemblies, national, provincial and local, were a marked characteristic of ancient Irish life. They all, without exception, discharged some legal functions, legislative or administrative, and even in those in which amusement predominated, the Cain law was publicly rehearsed. Most of the assemblies were annual, some triennial, some lasted only a day or two, others a week and occasionally longer. All originated in pagan funeral or commemorative rites, and continued to be held, even in Christian times, in very ancient cemeteries. They were called by different names Feis, Aenach, Dal, Tocomra, Aircachtas, &c.

    The Feis of Tara, in Meath, was from its origin seven centuries before Christ down to AD. 560, mainly national and political, being convened by the Ard-Rig, held at his residence, presided over by him, and consisting of the provincial kings, tanists, flaiths, Brehons, warriors, historians, poets and other distinguished men from the whole of Ireland. It was due to be held every third year for the purpose of preserving the laws and rules, and it might be called specially on any urgent occasion. After the statesmen had consulted, the laws were proclaimed, with any modifications agreed upon. Then the proceedings became festive, queens and great ladies taking part. The Feis of AD. 560 was the last regular one held at Tara because the monarch ceased to reside there. One national assembly of an exceptional character was held at Tara in AD. 697, by a decree of which women were emancipated from liability to military service.

    The Aenach held annually at Tailltenn, also in Meath, was a general assembly of the people without restriction of rank, clan or country, and became the most celebrated for athletic sports, games and contests. Yet even here the laws were read aloud, and it is not without significance that the last national assembly held at Tailltenn under King Rhoderic OConnor in 1168 was a political one.

    The Dal (= territorial assembly), held at Uisneach in Westmeath, was a gathering for political and quasi-legislative purposes. At one assembly there about a century before Christ, a uniform law of distraint for the whole of Ireland was adopted on the motion of Sen, son of Aig. This did not prevent the gatherings at Uisneach from being for ages celebrated for gaiety and amusement.

    A Tocomra was an assembly when convened by the Bruighfer for the special purpose of electing a tanist or successor to the king.

    Each provincial kingdom and each tuath had assemblies of its own. Every flaith and flaith-fine was a member of a local assembly, the clan system conferring the qualification, and there being no other election.

    Very careful provision is made for the preparation of the sites of great assemblies, and the preservation of peace and order at them is sanctioned by the severest penalties of the law. The operation of every legal process calculated to occasion friction, such as seizure of property, was suspended during the time the assemblies lasted.

    The Rig

    The term Rig (reeh = rex, king) was applied to four classes or grades of rulers, the lower grades being grouped, each group being subject to one of their number, and all being subject to, and owing tribute and allegiance to the Ard-Rig (= supreme king of Erinn). The Ard-Rig had an official residence at Tara and the kingdom of Meath for his special use. The provincial king, Rig-Cuicidh, also had an official residence and kingdom of his own, together with allegiance and tribute from each Rig-mor-Tuatha in his province, who in his turn received tribute and allegiance from each Rig-Tuatha under subjection to him. The Rig-Tuatha received tribute and allegiance from the flaiths or nobles in his tuath. The tuath was the political unit, and the ruler of it was the lowest to whom the term king was applied. For each payment of tribute a king always made some return. Every king was obliged, on his inauguration, to swear that he would govern justly and according to law, to which he remained always subject. The Ard-Rig was selected by the sub-kings and other leading men who legally constituted the Feis of Tara, the sub-kings by those under them in their respective spheres. No person not of full age, imperfectly educated, stupid, blind, deaf, deformed or otherwise defective in mind or body, or for any reason whatsoever unfit to discharge the duties or unworthy to represent the manhood of the nation, could be king, even though he were the eldest son of the preceding king. It is a forbidden thing for one with a blemish to be king at Tara.

    The Tuath

    Tuath, Cinel and Clann were synonyms meaning a small tribe or nation descended from a common ancestor. A king and clan being able, subject to certain limitations, to adopt new members or families, or amalgamate with another clan, the theory of common origin was not rigidly adhered to. Kinship with the clan was an essential qualification for holding any office or property. The rules of kinship largely determined status with its correlative rights and obligations, supplied the place of contract and of laws affecting the ownership, disposition and devolution of property, constituting the clan an organic, self-contained entity, a political, social and mutual insurance co-partnership. The solidarity of the clan was its most important and all-pervading characteristic. The entire territory occupied by a clan was the common and absolute property of that clan. Subject to this permanent and fundamental ownership, part of the land was set apart for the maintenance of the king as such. Warriors, statesmen, Brehons, Ollamhs, physicians, poets, and even eminent workers in the more important arts, were, in different degrees, rewarded with free lands for their respective public services. On the death of any person so rewarded, the land in theory reverted to the clan; but if like services continued to be rendered by the son or other successor, and accepted by the clan, the land was not withdrawn. The successors of statesmen, for whom the largest provision was made, became a permanent nobility. Flaith (flah = noble chief) was a term applied to a man of this rank. Rank, with the accompanying privileges, jurisdiction and responsibility, was based upon a qualification of kinship and of property, held by a family for a specified number of generations, together with certain concurrent conditions; and it could be lost by loss of property, crime, cowardice or other disgraceful conduct. The flaiths in every tuath and all ranks of society were organized on the same hierarchical pattern as royalty. A portion of land called the Cumhal Senorba was devoted to the support of widows, orphans and old childless people.

    The Fine

    Fine (finna), originally meaning family, came in course of time to be applied to a group of kindred families or to a whole clan. From differences between incidental accounts written in different ages, it appears that the social system underwent some change. For the purpose of conveying some idea, one theory may be taken, according to which the fine was made up of seventeen clansmen, with their families, viz, the Geilfine consisting of the flait li-fine and four others in the same or nearest degree of kinship to the centre, and the Deirbhfine, Larfine and Innflne, each consisting of four heads of families, forming widening concentric circles of kinship to which the rights and liabilities of the fine extended with certainty, but in diminishing degrees.

    Types of Tenure and Gavelkind

    In course of time a large and increasing proportion of the good land became, under the titles so far described, limited private property. The area of arable land available for the common use of the clansmen was gradually diminished by these encroachments, but was still always substantial. A share of this was the birthright of every law-abiding member of the Feini who needed it. To satisfy this title and give a start in life to some young men who would otherwise have got none, this land was subject to Gabhailcine (= clan-resumption), meaning that the clan resumed the whole area at intervals of a few years for a fresh distribution after some older tenants had died, and young men by attaining manhood had become entitled. Hence the Anglo-Irish word gavelkind. Anciently this re-distribution extended throughout the clan at the same time. Later it extended only to the land of a fine, each fine making its own distribution at its own time and in its own way as determined by the seventeen men above specified. In this distribution men might or might not receive again their former portions. In the latter case compensation was made for unexhausted improvements. This land could not be sold, nor even let except for a season in case of domestic necessity. The Feini who used it had no landlord had no rent to pay for this land, and could not be deprived of it except by the clan for a crime. They were subject only to public tributes and the ordinary obligations of free men. Presumably their homesteads were not on this land and were not subject to Gabhailcine. Neither were the unfenced and unappropriated common lands, waste, bog, forest, and mountain which all clansmen were free to use promiscuously at will.

    Right of Tenure

    There was hardly any selling and little letting of land in ancient times. Flaiths and other persons holding large areas let to clansmen, who then became Ceiles, not land, but the privilege of feeding upon land a number of cattle specified by agreement. Flaiths and Bo-aires also let cattle to a ceile who had none or not enough, and this was the most prevalent practice. There were two distinct methods of letting and hiring saer (= free) and daer (= base), the conditions being fundamentally different. The conditions of saer-tenure were largely settled by the law, were comparatively easy, did not require any security to be given, left the ceile free within the limits of justice to end the connection, left him competent in case of dispute to give evidence against that of the flaith, and did not impose any liability on the fine of the ceile. By continued use of the same land for some years and discharge of the public obligations in respect of it in addition to the ciss or payment as tenant, a ceile became a subowner or permanent tenant and could not be evicted. There is no provision in these laws for evicting any one. For the hire of cattle a usual payment was one beast in seven per annum for seven years; after which the cattle that remained became the property of the hirer. A saer-ceile on growing wealthy might become a bo-aire. Daer-tenure, whether of cattle or of the right to graze cattle upon land, was subject to a ciss-ninsciss (= wearisome tribute), for the payment of which security had to be given. A man not in the enjoyment of full civil rights, if able to find security, could become a daer-ceile. A free clansman by becoming a daer-ceile lowered his own status and that of his fine, became incompetent to give evidence against that of a flaith, and could not end the connection until the end of the term except by a large payment. The members of his fine were liable, in the degree of their relationship, to make good out of their own property any default in the payments. Hence this tenure could not be legally entered into by a free clansman without the permission of his fine. Daer-ceiles were also exposed to casual burdens, like that of lodging and feeding soldiers when in their district. All payments were made in kind. When the particular kind was not specified by the law or by agreement, the payments were made according to convenience in horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, wool, butter, bacon, corn, vegetables, yarn, dye-plants, leather, cloth, articles of use or ornament, &c. As the clan system relaxed, and the fine lost its legal power of fixing the amounts of public tributes, which were similarly payable to the flaith, and neglected its duty of seeing that those tributes were duly applied, the flaith became able to increase these tributes with little check, to confuse them with rent, to confuse jurisdiction with ownership, and to exalt himself at the expense of his fellow clansmen. A flaith by arranging that his tenants should make their payments at different periods of the year, secured a constant and copious supply without an inconvenient surplus.

    Those without Rights

    People who did not belong to the clan and were not citizens were in a base condition and incompetent to appear in court in suit or defence except through a freeman. The Bothach (=cottier) and the Sen-clithe (= old dependent) were people who, though living for successive generations attached to the families of flaiths did not belong to the clan and had no rights of citizenship. Fuidhirs, or manual laborers without property, were the lowest section of the population. Some were born in this condition, some clansmen were depressed into it by crime, consequences of war or other misfortune; and strangers of a low class coming into the territory found their level in it. The fuidhirs also were divided into saer and daer; the former being free by industry and thrift to acquire some property, after which five of them could club together to acquire rights corresponding to those of one freeman. The daer-fuidhirs were tramps, fugitives, captives, &c.

    Law of Contract

    The solidarity of clan and fine in their respective spheres, the provisions of the system, the simple rural life, and the prevalence of barter and payments in kind, left comparatively little occasion for contracts between individuals. Consequently the rules relating to contract are not very numerous. They are, however, sufficiently solemn. No contract affecting land was valid unless made with the consent of the fine and in the presence of the Aire-Forgaill. Contracts relating to other kinds of property are more numerous. When important or involving a considerable amount, they had to be made in the presence of a flaith or magistrate. The Aire-Coisring presided over most of the contracts of the common people. The parties to a contract should be free citizens, of full age, sound mind, free to contract or not, and under no legal disability. The world would be in a state of confusion if express contracts were not binding. From the repeated correlative dicta that nothing is due without deserving, and that a thing done for God’s sake, i.e. gratis, imposed little obligation, it is clear that the importance of valuable consideration was fully recognized. So also was the importance of time. To be asleep avails no one; Sloth takes away a man’s welfare. Contracts made by the following persons were invalid: (1) a servant without his masters authority; (2) a monk without authority from his abbot or manager of temporalities; (3) a son subject to his father without the father’s authority; (4) an infant, lunatic, or one who had not the full vigilance of reason ; (5) a wife in relation to her husband’s property without his authority. She was free to hold and deal with property of her own and bind it by contract. If a son, living with his father entered into a contract with his father’s knowledge, the father was held to have ratified the contract unless he promptly repudiated it. One is held to adopt what he does not repudiate after knowledge, having the power. Contract of sale or barter with warranty could be dissolved for fraud, provided action was taken within a limited time after the fraud had become known. Treaties and occasional very important contracts were made blood-covenants and inviolable by drawing a drop of blood from the little finger of each of the contracting parties, blending this with water, and both drinking the mixture out of the same cup. The forms of legal evidence were pledges, documents, witnesses and oaths. In cases of special importance the pledges were human beings, hostage sureties. These were treated as in their own homes according to the rank to which they belonged, and were discharged on the performance of the contract. If the contract was broken, they became prisoners and might be fettered or made to work as slaves until the obligation was satisfied. Authentic documents were considered good evidence. A witness was in all cases important, and in some essential to the validity of a contract. His status affected the force of the contract as well as the value of his evidence; and the laws appear to imply that by becoming a witness, a man incurred liabilities as a surety. The pre-Christian oath might be by one or more of the elements, powers or phenomena of nature, as the sun, moon, water, night, day, sea, land. The Christian oath might be on a copy of the Gospels, a saint’s crozier, relic or other holy thing.

    Criminal Law

    These laws recognized crime, but in the same calm and deliberate way in which they recognized contract and other things seriously affecting the people. Although we find in the poems of Dubhthach, written in the 5th century and prefixed to the Senchus Mor, the sentences, "Let every one die who kills a human being, and Every living person that inflicts death shall suffer death", capital punishment did not prevail in Ireland before or after. The laws uniformly discountenanced revenge, retaliation, the punishment of one crime by another, and permitted capital punishment only in the last resort and in ultimate default of every other form of redress. They contain elaborate provision for dealing with crime, but the standpoint from which it is regarded and treated is essentially different from ours. The state, for all its elaborate structure, did not assume jurisdiction in relation to any crimes except political ones, such as treason or the disturbance of a large assembly. For these it inflicted the severest penalties known to the law banishment, confiscation of property, death or putting out of eyes. A crime against the person, character or property of an individual or family was regarded as a thing for which reparation should be made, but the individual or family had to seek the reparation by a personal action. This differed from a civil action only in the terms employed and the elements used in calculating the amount of the reparation. The function of a judge in a criminal as in a civil action was to see that the facts, with modifying circumstances, were fully and truly submitted to him, and then by applying the law to these facts to ascertain and declare the amount of compensation that would make a legal adjustment. For this amount the guilty person, and in his default his kindred, became legally debtor, and the injured person or family became entitled to recover the amount like a civil debt by distraint, if not paid voluntarily. There were no police, sheriffs or public prisons. The decisions of the law were executed by the persons concerned, supported by a highly organized and disciplined public opinion springing from honour and interest and inherent in the solidarity of the clan. There is good reason to believe that the system was as effectual in the prevention and punishment of crime and in the redress of wrongs as any other human contrivance has ever been.


    In calculating the amount of compensation the most characteristic and important element was Einechlan (= honour-price, honour-value), a value attaching to every free person, varying in amount from one cow to thirty cows according to rank. It was the assessed value of status or Ca put. It was frequently of consequence in relation to contracts and other clan affairs; but it emerges most clearly in connection with crime. By the commission of crime, breach of contract, or other disgraceful or injurious conduct, Einechlan was diminished or destroyed, a capitis diminutio occurred, apart from any other punishment. Though existing apart from fine, Einechlan was the first element in almost every fine. Dire was the commonest word for fine, whether great or small. Eric (= reparation, redemption) was the fine for separating body from soul; but the term was used in lighter cases also. In capital cases the word sometimes meant Einechlan, sometimes coirp-dire (= body-fine), but most correctly the sum of these two. It may be taken that, subject to modifying circumstances, a person guilty of homicide had to pay (1) coirp-dire for the destruction of life, irrespective of rank; (2) the honour value of the victim; (3) his own honour-value if the deed was unintentional; and (4) double his own honour-value if committed with malice aforethought. The sum of these was in all cases heavy; heaviest when the parties were wealthy. The amount was recoverable as a debt from the criminal to the extent of citizenship.

    Fosterage and education

    Fosterage, the custom of sending children to be reared and educated in the families of fellow-clansmen, was so prevalent, especially among the wealthy classes, and the laws governing it are so elaborate and occupied such a large space, that some mention of it here is inevitable. Beyond mention, there is little to be said, owing to the absence of general principles in an infinity of specific details, mostly domestic and apparently trivial. A child in fosterage was reared and educated suitably for the position it was destined to fill in life. There was fosterage for affection, for payment and for a literary education. Fosterage began when the child was a year old and ended when the marriageable age was reached, unless previously terminated by death or crime. Every fostered person was under an obligation to provide, if necessary, for the old age of foster-parents. The affection arising from this relationship was usually greater, and was regarded as more sacred than that of blood relationship.

    Law of Distress

    Distress of seizure of property being the universal mode of obtaining satisfaction, whether for crime, breach of contract, non-payment of debt, or, any other cause, the law of distress came into operation as the solvent of almost every dispute. Hence it is the most extensive and important branch, if not more than a branch, of these ancient laws. Of several words meaning distress, athigabail was the most frequently used. A person having a liquidated claim might either sue a debtor or proceed at his peril to seize without this preliminary. In the latter case the defendant could stop the progress of the seizure by paying the debt, giving a pledge, or demanding a trial; and he then could choose a Brehon. Distress was of two kinds (I) athigabail arfut ( = distress on length, i.e. with time, with delays); and (2) athgabail tulle ( = immediate distress). Which method was pursued depended partly upon the facts of the case and partly upon the respective ranks of the parties. A person entitled to seize property had to do it himself, accompanied, if the amount was large, by a law agent and witnesses. No man was entitled to seize unless he owned, or had a surety who owned, sufficient property for indemnity or adjustment in case the seizure should be found to have been wrongful. The formalities varied in different circumstances and also at different times in the long ages in which these laws prevailed. Some forms may, in the Irish as in other legal systems, have become merely ceremonial and fictitious.

    Tellach (= seizure of immovable property) was made in three periods or delays of ten days each (= 30 days). The first step was a notice that unless the debt was paid immediately seizure would be made. Ten days later, the plaintiff crossed the fence in upon the land, with a law agent, a witness and a pair of horses yoked or harnessed, and in a loud voice stated the amount of the debt and called upon the defendant to pay it according to law. On receiving no answer, or an unsatisfactory one, he withdrew. After an interval of ten days more, the creditor entered with his law agent, two witnesses and four horses, went farther in upon the land, repeated his demand, and if refused withdrew. Finally, after a further interval of ten days, he entered once more with his law agent, three witnesses and eight horses, drove up to the debtor’s house, repeated his demand, and if not satisfied drove a herd of cattle or a flock of sheep in upon the farm and left men to care for them. Athgabail ordinarily meant the seizure of movable property. The following technical terms will indicate the procedure in distress with timera urfocre (= demand of payment, stating the amount in presence of witnesses); apad (= delay); athgabail ( = the actual seizure); anad (= delay after seizure, the thing remaining in the debtor’s possession); toxal (= the taking away of the thing seized); fasc ( = notice to the debtor of the amount due, the mainder or pound in which the thing seized is impounded, and the name of the law agent); dithtim ( = delay during which the thing is in pound); lobad ( = destruction or forfeiture of the debtor’s ownership and substitution of the creditor’s ownership). There was no sale, because sale for money was little known. The property in the thing seized, to the amount of the debt and expenses, became legally transferred from the debtor to the creditor, not all at once but in stages fixed by law. A creditor was not at liberty to seize household goods, farming utensils, or any goods the loss of which would prevent the debtor recovering from embarrassment, so long as there was other property which could be seized. A seizure could be made only between sunrise and sunset. If a man who is sued evades justice, knowing the debt to be due of him, double the debt is payable by him and a fine of five seds. When a large debt was clearly due, and there was no property to seize, the debtor himself could be seized and compelled to work as a prisoner or slave until the debt was paid.

    When a defendant was of rank superior to that of the plaintiff, distress had to be preceded by troscad ( = fasting). This is a legal process unknown. elsewhere except in parts of India. The plaintiff having made his demand and waited a certain time without result, went and sat without food before the door of the defendant. To refuse to submit to fasting was considered indelibly disgraceful, and was one of the things which legally degraded a man by reducing or destroying his honour-value. The law said he who does not give a pledge to fasting is an evader of all; he who disregards all things shall not be paid by God or man. If a plaintiff having duly fasted did not receive within a certain time the satisfaction of his claim, he was entitled to distrain as in the case of an ordinary defendant, and to seize double the amount that would have satisfied him in the first instance. If a person fasting in accordance with law died during or in consequence of the fast, the person fasted upon was held guilty of murder. Fasting could be stopped by paying the debt, giving a pledge, or submitting to the decision of a Brehon. A creditor fasting after a reasonable offer of settlement had been made to him forfeited his claim. He who fasts notwithstanding the offer of what should be accorded to him, forfeits his legal right according to the decision of the Feini.

    The Changes made to Gaelic Ireland

    The Influence of the Catholic Church

    The influence of the Catholic Church upon Irish law as administered by the Brehons was mostly negative. [6]

    Sir Henry Maine seems to think that the conception of a Will was grafted upon the Brehon Law by the Church. In another most important matter, however, the Law of Contract, the Church may have exercised a greater influence; the sacredness of bequests and of promises being equally important to it as the donee of pious gifts. It is also likely that much of the law relating to the alienation of land, all the land belonging originally to the tribe, was influenced by the Church, and indeed the Church seems to have been the grantee primarily contemplated in these regulations. There is a great mass of jurisdiction relating to its territorial rights, and no doubt this must have affected the outside body of law as well.

    But all bodies of law are exceedingly unmalleable, and tend to resist the absorption of foreign elements; and Sir Henry Maine's conclusion is that "there has certainly been nothing like an intimate interpenetration of ancient Irish law by Christian principle". Still the effect of Christian principles must certainly have been great, but they were probably powerful as a negative rather than as a positive factor.

    An more indirect negative influence of the Church was in pope Adrian IV’s Bull authorising Henry II to proceed to Ireland "to check the torrent of wickedness, to reform evil manners, to sow the seeds of virtue." [7] This was the pope's view based on St. Malachy' complaints, who on the death of St. Cellach (Celsus) (he had ordained Malachy in 1119) was appointed Archbishop of Armagh, in 1132, but found he was unable to take possession of his see until he purchased the Bachal Isu (Staff of Jesus) from Niall, "the usurping lay-primate". During three years at Armagh, St. Malachy restored the discipline of the Church, grown lax during the intruded rule of a series of lay-abbots, and had the Roman Liturgy of St. Gregory adopted. [8]

    Although monks and monasteries were to be found in Ireland at the time of Patrick, their place was then altogether secondary. But in the course of the 6th and 7th centuries a comprehensive monastic system developed in Ireland, partly through the influence of Gaelic monasteries in Britain, such as Candida Casa founded by St. Ninian in the late 4th century at Whithorn in Galloway, Scotland, and Llangarvan in Wales.

    Early attempts to organize the Irish church on the usual Roman system — by which each bishop and his clergy exercised exclusive jurisdiction within a diocese — seem to have given way to one in which groups of Christian settlements were loosely linked together, similarly to the Irish Family or fine, usually under the auspices of some one or other of the great saints, e.g., St. Brigid (451-525) at Kildare and St. Kevin (b. 498)at Glendalough. Both these latter religious communities had unorthodox practices associated with their commnities: St. Brigid's had "curious pagan rituals, including the burning of a perpetual fire, continued until the 16th century. The fire pit is visible in the grounds today." [9]. St. Kevin lived as a hermit in a small cave carved into a cliff, St. Kevin's Bed; "little more than a rocky ledge, it may have been used as a tomb in the Bronze Age." [10]

    By the end of the 6th century, enthusiasm for Christianity was leading Irishmen to devote themselves to a most austere existence as monks, as hermits, and as missionaries to Scotland and the north of England and in a great area of west-central Europe, particularly between the Rhine, Loire, and Rhône rivers. St. Columba's foundation (c. 563) of the monastery of Iona off the northwest Scottish coast provided the best-known base for the Gaelic Christianisation of Scotland; and its offshoot, Lindisfarne, lying off the coast of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, was responsible for the conversion of that area.

    Of the continental missionaries, the best known is St. Columban (c. 543–615), whose monastic foundations at Luxeuil near Annegray in the Vosges and at Bobbio in northern Italy became important centres of learning. Columban, however, by his individualism ("whether St. Columban gave Luxeuil and others dependent on it an oral or a written rule is uncertain. We know it to have been borrowed mostly from that observed in the great Irish monasteries. But for many reasons this rule was not destined to prevail for long. St. Columbanus had all the force and impetuosity of the ardent Irish temperament, great powers of physical endurance, intellectual and moral strength. He seems to have lacked the discretion of St. Benedict. His rule, moreover, did not legislate concerning the abbot's election, his relations with his monks, and the appointment of monastic officials with delegated power" [11]) and austere puritanism (perhaps, like Pelagius another Irishman, "he regarded the moral strength of man's will (liberum arbitrium), when steeled by asceticism, as sufficient in itself to desire and to attain the loftiest ideal of virtue"[12], came into conflict not only with the Merovingian rulers of Gaul but also with the local ecclesiastical administration; his limitations ("They objected to his Celtic Easter and his exclusion of men as well as women from the precincts of his monasteries." [13]) exemplify those of the Irish monastic system as a whole and explain why, in the end, it was supplanted by the ordinary administrative system of the church, particularly after the Anglo-Norman invasion began in the 12th century.

    St. Malachy introduced the Cistercian monks into Ireland in the 12th century, as well, and by the time of the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, there were 40 Cistercian abbeys in Ireland. These were an enormously different type of community than the earlier Gaelic monasteries such as those of Sts. Brigid, Kevin, Columba, and Columban and together with the removal of Brethons wherever and whenever possible by the Anglo-Normans further damaged the continuance of traditional ways.

    The introduction of Gregorian liturgical practices led to the loss of further Gaelic practices in Ireland as it did in Spain, where the only ancient Spanish Visigoth-Mozarabs Liturgy to survive is from the abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos Monastery near Toledo. [14]

    During the Catholic Queen Mary’s reign in England, the pope recognised the English monarchy’s kingship of Ireland.

    The Effect of English Rule

    The Brehon law code was ultimately extinguished by the English in every part of Ireland. As soon as they conquered a territory they stamped it out, banished or slew the Brehons, and governed the land by English law.

    Tribe ownership of the land and the rights of the free-tribesmen, as apart from the chief, was a very inconvenient doctrine for them. The English insisted on recognizing a chief as owner and landlord of the territory of the tribe whenever a chief made his submission, and the territory was adjudged to descend by primogeniture to his eldest son. Land was sometimes confiscated, and sold for plantation by English and Scottish settlers. As this procedure was not always successful, a number of agreements were made with individual landowners and chiefs by which their titles were officially recognised in return for fixed regular rents. This was a further step in converting a great part of the country to English tenures.

    In these way the hereditary rights of the mass of the people of Ireland were taken from them, and they were reduced to the rank of ordinary tenants, and, the native nobility being soon exterminated, they mostly fell into the hands of English landlords, and were finally subjected to those rack rents (a rent equal or nearly equal to the annual value of the property, an unreasonably high rent) which made the name of Irish tenant an object of commiseration for so many generations.

    Amongst the many bitter injustices inflicted upon Ireland and the Irish by the English conquest none has had more cruel or more far-reaching effects than the abrogation of the Brehon law relating to land-tenure and division of property.

    Portglenone in the 1830s

    A Glossary Of Terms

    PRONI describes the administrative divisions in Ireland as having consisted of a variety of land units in descending order of size: Province, County, Barony, Parish and Townland, which it defines as follows:

    This is the earliest and largest administrative division in Ireland dating back into prehistory and early historic times. There were originally five Provinces in Ireland with provincial 'overkings' who were supported by the kings of the smaller local kingdoms within them. However, by the 17th century this had been reduced to the four modern Provinces of Ulster, Connaught, Leinster and Munster. Present day Northern Ireland comprises six of the nine counties established in the Province of Ulster - the Ulster counties of Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan lie in the Republic of Ireland.

    Originally the landholding of a feudal baron, the barony is now an obsolete administrative unit that is mid-way in size between a county and a parish. The system of bringing Irish local kingdoms into the feudal system of baronies began in the medieval period but did not extend to the whole of Ulster until the early 17th century. Large baronies were later subdivided until there were 58 baronies in the area that comprises the present day Northern Ireland.

    A territorial unit equivalent to the English shire, it was created by the English administration in Ireland as the major subdivision of an Irish province and dates from the 13th to the 17th century. The counties as they are today were planned in 1584 but many existed long before this date. Antrim and Down had been counties from the 13th or 14th centuries but their modern boundaries were not settled until 1605, while the modern boundary and the new county name of Londonderry did not come into existence until 1613 although it had existed from Anglo-Norman times with different boundaries and under the name of Coleraine.

    An ecclesiastical unit of territory that came into existence in Ireland in its present form in the 12th and 13th centuries and was continued by the Established Church of Ireland after the Reformation. It was then adopted as a civil administrative area but over time the boundaries of some civil and ecclesiastical parishes came to vary from each other. Roman Catholic parishes, for example, when re-instated, were often redrawn to suit the needs of their parishioners. Because civil parishes may extend across rivers that were often used to delineate the boundaries of counties and baronies, civil parishes can be in more than one county and in more than one barony.

    The townland is an ancient unit, dating back to pre-Norman times, and is the smallest administrative division throughout the island of Ireland that is still in use. It is the common term or English translation for a variety of small local land units that varied in name and meaning throughout the island of Ireland. In the north there had been a large division called a 'ballybetagh,' generally divided into around 12 'ballyboes', but into around 16 'tates' in the area of Fermanagh and Monaghan. The 'ballyboe' was notionally of 120 acres and the 'tate', 60 acres, but these measurements clearly referred to useable land in an area that might also include marsh and mountain waste. The 'ballyboe' might be further divided into three 'sessiaghs' while the term 'carrow' (Irish 'ceathramh', a 'quarter') may refer to either a quarter of a 'ballybetagh' or a quarter of a 'ballyboe'. The 'ballybetagh' disappeared after the Plantation and the subdivisions became the modern townlands, the average size of which, in most of Northern Ireland, is now c.350 acres but c.180 acres in Fermanagh. The spelling of townland names is subject to considerable variation due largely to the difficulties of representing the pronunciation of Irish language names in English spelling.

    District Electoral Division/Ward
    The District Electoral Divisions (D.E.Ds) were originally established under the Poor Relief (Ireland) Act 1838 as poor law electoral divisions but their present names up to 1972 were fixed under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898. They formed the territorial units in rural districts for the election of members of Rural District Councils. The equivalent territorial unit for the purpose of elections in county boroughs, municipal boroughs and urban districts is the Ward. In the larger urban areas there will be a number of Wards but in the smaller urban areas the entire urban district acts as a Ward. In 1973 new district councils were set up and these 26 districts were subdivided into 526 Wards which were in turn grouped into 98 District Electoral Areas for local government elections. However, these District Electoral Areas and Wards are different in composition from pre-1973 D.E.Ds and Wards.

    The Ordnance Survey Memoirs

    A townland survey of Ireland was begun in 1824 with maps at the scale of 6", to facilitate a uniform valuation for local taxation. The Ordnance Survey Memoirs were written descriptions intended to accompany the maps, containing information necessary to clarify place-names and other distinctive features, which could not be fitted on to them. The first memoirs in 1830 covered Antrim and continued though the decade, until the scheme collapsed between 1839 and 1840. They are a unique history of the northern half of Ireland before the Great Famine, and particularly of the Portglenone region, which at the time of the survey included townlands in the parishes of Ahoghill, Craigs, Portglenone and Kirkinriola, the position of which can be determined by reference to PRONI's Map of the Civil Parishes of County Antrim

    The town of Portglenone was until 1825 within the administrative unit of the parish of Ahoghill which was then divided into 73 townlands. In 1825, the town of Portglenone and other townlands were placed in the parish of Portglenone, others in the parishes of Craigs and Kirkinriola and some remained in Ahoghill. The OS Memoirs dealt with 73 townlands principally under the heading of the Parish of Ahoghill. The following table lists all of the townlands and parishes, as listed by the Public Records Office of Nortern Ireland (PRONI) at the civil parish map links included below.

    Portglenone   Ahoghill   Craigs   Kirkinriola
    Portglenone was called port chluain eoghain, i.e. "the port of eoghain's meadow".
    Ahoghill was called Achadh-na-coille i.e. "the field of the church" and Magerahill would have the same meaning (Machaire-chille). It was still frequently called Magherahoghill by the inhabitants in the 1830s. Another derivative gives Achadh Thuathail i.e. campulus Tuathalli "Toole’s field."
    Surface and Soil
    The system of agriculture was in a very indifferent state at the time of the OS Memoirs. Of a total of some 35,000 "statute acres" only 15,000 were "aplotted under the Tithe Act", and another 145¾ acres were covered with water.

    There was nothing particularly striking in the appearance of the hills, which traversed the parish from north to south however, many of the crops being planted render the valley through which the Maine flows beautiful and interesting; the greatest elevation (of only 660 feet) was at Tully between Ahoghill and Portglenone.

    The soil was in general light and unfit for growing wheat. The general crops were potatoes, flax, and oats. In the townland of Ballykennedy camomile has been very successfully cultivated for sale to druggists.

    Turbary (the ground where turf or peat may be dug up) was very abundant in detached patches throughout the parish. In many places it was of a very good quality.

    Basalt was quarried for the ordinary purposes of building and of road making. There was a good quarry for building-stone near Ballymena.

    The communications were very numerous and generally good, of which the principal are:

    • the mail road from Belfast to Coleraine,
    • the western one from Ballymena to Ballymoney,
    • that from Randalstown to Coleraine by Ahoghill and
    • that between the same places by Portglenone.
    These 4 roads run from south to north. In the cross direction there were roads from Ballymena to Toome Bridge and to Portglenone, and very numerous cross ones.

    The Killymurrys ridge, extending from the parish of Ballmoney to Lough Neagh, traversed the western side of the parish from north to south, and parallel to the River Bann. This did not present a striking appearance, being neither bold in its formation nor exceeding 660 feet in height above sea level. Its aspect, particularly towards its summit and on its western side, was bare and desolate.

    The highest point was Tully hill, in the townland of Slieveanagh and about 2 miles south east of Portglenone. Its summit was, towards the south of the parish, much diversified by numerous minor features. The fall eastward was more gradual and smooth than towards the west, where it was abrupt, broken and in many places rocky, from outbreaking of the basalt. It finally terminated in numerous beautifully undulating and parallel little ridges or features, becoming gradually lower as they approached the Bann. On the east side its descent terminated at the Main river, and on this side the ground was also towards its base somewhat broken. The average elevation of this ridge above the sea was 520 feet and above the Bann 470 feet.

    The ground along the eastern side of the parish was a low ridge, not exceeding an average elevation of 350 feet above sea level, and from this it undulated gently towards the Main river on its western side, the average elevation of which in this parish was 176 feet above sea level.

    The principal points in this parish were Tully, 600 feet, Black Hill 513 feet (on the Killymurrys ridge) and Fenagh Hillhead, 456 feet, and Crank hill, 413 feet above sea level, on the east side of the parish.

    The River Bann
    The Bann, flowed for 7 and a third miles along the western boundary of the parish, forming the boundary between the counties of Antrim and Londonderry, from Lough Beg. It was navigable for boats of 60 tons loaded and drawing from 5 to 6 feet of water; and much of the heavy goods, such as timber, iron, coals, slates, received at Portglenone were brought down it in lighters.

    It was not usefully situated for machinery (i.e. water mills), there not being sufficient fall, and because the ground along it was low and frequently inundated. It was usefully situated for irrigation and drainage, and by its inundations, which were frequent and in winter continued for some days, it enriched the flooded country. It subsided of itself. No deposit of any consequence, except a sort of slime which was rather beneficial, was made by it.

    Its extreme breadth was 350 feet. Least breadth 176 feet and average breadth 210 feet. Its greatest ordinary depth was 25 feet (this was towards its source). Its shallowest part in the channel was 3 and a half feet and its average depth in the summer 7 feet. Its average velocity or fall was not more than 1 foot in its course along this parish. It neither facilitated nor impeded communication. Its bed was soft and clayey, its banks very low and the scenery along them, except at Portglenone, bleak and uninteresting, the ground being flat, boggy, and marshy.

    Main River
    The Main rose in the parish of Killigan, at an elevation of 290 feet above sea level and, followed a southerly course for 4 miles, it entered the northern side of this parish, through which it flowed for 7 and a half miles, and descended to a level of 108 feet. It finally, after an entire and southerly course of 35 miles, discharged itself into Lough Neagh, 1 and three-quarter miles south of the town of Randalstown, through which it flowed. Its height above sea level on entering this parish was 263 feet and its average fall was 1 foot in 258 feet.

    Its course was a little broken by a ledge of rock which intersected it at Dunminning, and also by several artificial carriers for the purpose of turning off water for machinery, but the fall produced by any natural interruption was inconsiderable. That at Dunminning caused a sufficient fall of water to propel the machinery in that neighbourhood only. A carry was erected on this ledge and, though it was necessary for the purposes of machinery it was the cause of serious injury to the lands along the banks of the river near its source.

    This river was subject to frequent and sudden floods, which did mischief to the lands in this parish just north of the carry just mentioned, but during the rest of its course were harmless, there being sufficient fall to carry off the water. Its bed was rocky, stony and gravelly towards the north of the parish, but soft towards the south. Its average breadth was 36 feet and ordinary depth 2 feet 6 inches. It was very usefully situated and valuable for machinery, drainage and irrigation. In its course through the parish it propeled the machinery of 8 bleach greens. Its banks were for the most part high and the scenery along them was pleasing and interesting, the ground being much diversified and chiefly planted. It neither facilitated nor impeded communication.

    Clough River
    The Clough river, rose in the mountains in the parishes of Ardclinis and Skerry, at an elevation of about 1,200 feet above sea level, flowed westerly for 1 mile along the northern boundary of the parish and discharged itself into the Main at an elevation of 263 feet above sea level. Its average fall in the parish was about 1 foot in 400 feet, it average breadth 17 feet and average ordinary depth 2½ feet. Its bed was soft and its banks low. It frequently overflowed them, being subject to high and sudden floods; and from the check given to the discharge of its waters by its flowing at right angles into the Main, and the trifling fall of these rivers, it did considerable injury to the level grounds and required some time to subside. From its inconsiderable fall, it was not, in this parish, useful for machinery, drainage or irrigation.

    Braid River
    The Braid river rose in the mountains in the parish of Tickmacrevan and, after a south westerly course, entered on the southern boundary of the parish, at which point it was about 140 feet above sea level; and after flowing westerly for 21/3 miles, it discharged itself into the Main, at a distance of 10 miles from its mouth and at an elevation of 110 feet above sea level. Its average fall in the parish was 1 foot in 210 feet, its average breadth 57 feet and average natural depth 3 feet. From the height and number of its sources it rose rapidly and frequently, but did not do any injury in the parish. It was useful for machinery, drainage and irrigation. Its bed was gravelly and its banks low. It did not tend to impede or facilitate communication.

    The parish was amply supplied with soft spring water for domestic uses. It abounded, particularly in the hills, with springs. There were no hot or mineral waters in the parish.

    The bogs in this parish extended over a considerable portion of its surface, and were to be found at elevations of from 60 to 600 feet above sea level and 10 to 560 feet above the River Bann. The bogs in the hills were less cut than those in the lower parts of the parish. Their substratum was usually either rock or blue clay, and their depth varied from 7 to 18 feet. They seemed to be growing, as the bog near the surface was very soft and spongy, and the fir timber with which they abound was invariably nearer the bottom than the surface. In the mountains there was usually only 1 layer of stumps, though a few instances of 2, one standing on the other, had occurred. The stumps were very large, stood upright, and mostly seemed to have been burnt or subjected to fire, as a sort of charcoal was found on them. Very few trunks were found, and those which were, lay indiscriminately. The stumps and trunks were of the finest description of pine timber, being very hard and close grained. Very little oak was found in the mountains.

    In some parts of the lower grounds, particularly along the River Bann, some of the bogs were nearly cut out. Their subsoil was a sort of tough whitish clay, such as bricks were made of. In this, oak blocks were firmly and thickly imbedded, and sometimes to a depth of 6 feet; and on the surface, as well as sometimes in the clay, oak trunks lay indiscriminately and in considerable numbers. They appeared to have been broken down at the same height and on one occasion, where the bog had been cut away, a stump was discovered which bore evident marks of having been hacked. The nearer the Bann, the timber was whiter and of a superior and valuable description.

    The tradition that "a man could have walked on the trees along the Bann from Coleraine to Toome," was borne out by the great quantity of oak, hazel, ash, birch, alder and holly brushwood still remaining in the parish. There was scarce a townland in which there was not some underwood, but there was more of it on the western side and along the Bann than in the other parts of the parish. It was very low and cattle are allowed to graze in it. Hazel principally abounded and holly was only found in the rocky districts.

    Further evidence of the former existence of woods in this parish was the circumstance of oak blocks or stumps found imbedded in the banks and bed of the Bann, and also at depths of from 1 to 6 feet in the whitish clay in its vicinity. Some of these stumps were upright and a few of them inclined. A few trunks were found. They were said to be from 14 inches to 2 feet in diameter. They lay indiscriminately, did always occupy the same plane with the stumps, and seemed to have been broken down. Their timber was white and sound, and of an excellent quality. There was not now any natural timber or wood, except the brushwood growing in the parish.

    The south and south west winds, particularly the latter, prevailed in the parish. To these winds, which were usually followed by rain, the western side of the parish was very exposed, as may be seen by the stunted growth of the trees exposed to it and their invariable inclination to the north east. There was but little protection from hedgerows, and the cabins were usually hid in the gorges or behind the little hills. The west side of the parish was also, from its proximity to the Bann and its uncultivated state, very subject to rain and fogs. Sowing in this side commenced in March and potato setting continued during the month of May. Harvest commenced in the beginning of September and was generally over by the first week in October. Potato digging commenced about the end of October and was finished by the end of November.

    On the eastern side of the parish the climate was much earlier and the air purer, particularly towards the south and along the Main. It was protected from the winds to which the west side was exposed by the high ridge which traverses the centre of the parish and, owing to its more cultivated state, it was comparatively free from fogs and less subject to rain. The crops were therefore earlier. Sowing commenced a fortnight a fortnight sooner and the harvest 3 weeks earlier than on the western side.

    Ballymena and the Irish Linen Industry
    Ballymena, in the pleasant valley of the River Braid, was an important borough with linen and other industries. It was situated in central Antrim at the convergence of many roads, which give ready access to all parts of the north-east of Ireland; it was 40 km north-west of Belfast. The town of Ballymena became the market centre for the surrounding countryside.

    The Saturday market commenced in 1626. Sir Roger Casement went to school here. Most of the town was built on land of the estate received by William Adair of Kinhilt, Scotland, from Charles 1. About 1732 the Adairs and another family named Hickey introduced the linen industry, to which the town chiefly owes its development. In 1798 a body of United Irishmen held Ballymena for three days, after defeating British forces in a battle in the streets. Eight miles (13km) west of Ballymena, Slemish Mountain rises prominently on the South side of the Braid valley.

    The rise in Ulster’s importance as a linen producer was spurred on by the arrival from France of refugee Huguenot weavers at the end of the 17th century. Linen remained a flourishing industry for a further two centuries, but today is produced only in small quantities for the luxury goods market. Hundreds of abandoned mills dot the former "Linen Triangle" broadly bounded by Belfast, Armagh and Dungannon, which was dominated by Lough Neagh and the rivers, including the Main, that flow into it.

    The Main river afforded an abundant supply of water for the purposes of bleach greens of which there were eight on the Main. The mills were located at Gruba, Fanaghy, Craigs, Lower Craigs, Culleybuckey, Low Park, Hill Mount Green, Lisnafallan (near Gracehill), and Leighanmore.

    Linen diminished in popularity because of the expensive production process: after cutting the flax had to be retted, or soaked, in large artificial ponds so that scutching — the separation of the fibres — could begin. After combing, the linen was spun and woven in the houses of the peasantry before being bleached in the sun, typically in fields along river banks. The final stage was "beetling", the process whereby the cloth was hammered to give it a sheen.

    A land of legends

    The four ecclesiastical provinces into which Ireland was divided in the 12th century realistically denoted the main natural divisions of the country. Of these, the north had in the earliest times been culturally connected with Scotland, the east with Roman Britain and Wales, the south with Wales and France, and the southwest and west with France and Spain. In later times, despite political changes, these associations continued in greater or lesser degree.

    Before the Middle Ages Ireland won especial fame as a notable and respected centre of Christianity, scholarship, and the arts. After the Middle Ages, subjugation to Britain stultified—or the struggle for freedom absorbed—much of Ireland's native energy. But its influence was always exercised as much through its emigrants as in its achievements as a nation.

    Mesolithic Period
    It has generally been held that the first arrivals were Mesolithic hunter-fisher people, represented largely by flintwork found mainly in ancient beaches in the historic counties of Antrim, Down, Louth, and Dublin. The artifacts have been named Larnian for the type site at Larne, Northern Ireland; dates from 6000 BC onward have been assigned to them. Archaeological work since World War II, however, suggests that they should be considered not as a Mesolithic people but rather as groups contemporary with the Neolithic farmers. The Larnian could then be interpreted as a specialized aspect of contemporary Neolithic culture. Lake and riverside finds, especially along the River Bann, show a comparable tradition. A single carbon-14 date of 5725 ! 110 BC from Toome Bay, north of Lough Neagh, for woodworking and flint has been cited in support of a Mesolithic phase in Ireland, but such a single date cannot be considered reliable.

    Neolithic Period
    The general pattern of carbon-14 date determinations suggests that the Neolithic Period in Ireland began about 3000 BC. As in Britain, the most widespread evidence of early farming communities is long-barrow burial. The main Irish long-barrow series consists of megalithic tombs called court tombs because an oval or semicircular open space, or court, inset into the end of the long barrow precedes the burial chamber. These court tombs number more than 300. They occur in the northern half of Ireland, and the distribution is bounded on the south by the lowlands of the central plain. Timber-built rectangular houses belonging to the court tomb builders have been discovered at Ballynagilly, County Tyrone, and at Ballyglass, County Mayo. The court tombs are intimately related to the British long-barrow series of the Severn-Cotswold and chalk regions and probably derive from more or less common prototypes in northwestern France.

    In Ireland a second type of megalithic long barrow—the so-called portal tomb—developed from the court tomb. There are more than 150 examples. They spread across the court tomb area in the northern half of Ireland and extend into Leinster and Waterford and also to western Wales and Cornwall.

    A notable feature of the Irish Neolithic is the passage tomb. This megalithic tomb, unlike the long-barrow types, is set in a round mound, sited usually on hilltops and grouped in cemeteries. The rich grave goods of these tombs include beads, pendants, and bone pins. Many of the stones of the tombs are elaborately decorated with engraved designs. The main axis of the distribution lies along a series of great cemeteries from the River Boyne to Sligo (Boyne and Loughcrew in County Meath, Carrowkeel and Carrowmore in County Sligo). Smaller groups and single tombs occur largely in the northern half of the country and in Leinster. A specialized group of later—indeed, advanced—Bronze Age date near Tramore, County Waterford, is quite closely akin to a large group on the Isles of Scilly and Cornwall. The great Irish passage tombs include some of the most magnificent megalithic tombs in all Europe—for example, Newgrange and Knowth in County Meath. While the passage tombs represent the arrival of the megalithic tradition in its fullest and most sophisticated form, the exact relation between the builders of these tombs and the more or less contemporary long-barrow builders is not clear. The passage tombs suggest rather more clearly integrated communities than do the long barrows.

    To the final stage of the Neolithic probably belong the rich house sites of both rectangular and circular form at Lough Gur, County Limerick. The pottery shows a strong connection with the tradition of the long barrow (court tomb and portal tomb).

    Bronze Age
    Two great incursions establish the early Bronze Age in Ireland. One, represented by approximately 400 megalithic tombs of the wedge tomb variety, is associated with Beaker pottery. This group is dominant in the western half of the country. Similar tombs also associated with Beaker finds are common in the French region of Brittany, and the origin of the Irish series is clearly from this region. In Ireland the distribution indicates that these tomb builders sought well-drained grazing land, such as the Burren limestones in Clare, and also copper deposits, such as those on the Cork-Kerry coast and around the Silvermines area of Tipperary.

    In contrast, in the eastern half of the country a people in the single-burial tradition dominate. Their burial modes and distinctive pottery, known as food vessels, have strong roots in the Beaker tradition that dominates in many areas of western Europe. They may have reached Ireland via Britain from the lowland areas around the Rhine or farther north. Throughout the early Bronze Age Ireland had a flourishing metal industry, and bronze, copper, and gold objects were exported widely to Britain and the Continent. In the middle Bronze Age (about 1500 BC) new influences brought urn burial into eastern Ireland. From about 1200 BC elements of a late Bronze Age appear, and by about 800 BC a great late Bronze Age industry was established. A considerable wealth of bronze and gold is present, an example of which is the great Clare gold hoard. Nordic connections have been noted in much of this metalwork.

    Iron Age
    The period of the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age in Ireland is fraught with uncertainties. The problem of identifying archaeological remains with language grouping is notoriously difficult, but it seems on the whole likely that the principal Gaelic arrivals occurred in the Iron Age. Irish sagas, which probably reflect the pagan Irish Iron Age, reflect conditions in many respects similar to the descriptions of the ancient classical authors, such as Poseidonius and Julius Caesar. The Celts were an Indo-European group who are thought to have originated in the 2nd millinneum BC, probably in east-central Europe. They were among the earliest to develop an Iron Age culture, as has been found at Hallstatt, Austria (c. 700 BC). Although there is little sign of Hallstatt-like culture in Ireland, the later La Tène culture (which may date in Ireland from 300 BC or earlier) is represented in metalwork and some stone sculpture, mainly in the northern half of the country. Connections with northern England are apparent. Hill-fort building seems also characteristic of the Iron Age.

    It is the light of the above introduction, taken mainly from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, that the following Ordnance Survey Memoirs should be read in thelight of the significance policy to exclude the archaeological submissions made by the Irish scholars, O’Curry and O’Donovan who travelled throughout Ireland with the O.S. units as much for that purpose as to assist with the spelling and meaning of place-names.

    Amusements and Habits of the people
    Dancing was almost given up, and card-playing, cock-fighting almost totally abolished, owing to the exertions of their clergy.

    On Easter Mondays the young assemble in a field called the Green, where they have the play called "the round ring" The Green used formerly to be well attended and kept up for 2 days, but it now (1835) lasts only 1 day.

    The ‘Round Ring’ was also described, as follows, in the OS memoirs of the parish of Balleymoney:

    "They form themselves into a series of rings both sexes mixing indiscriminately. One person is placed outside of each ring, who has to run around it and touch another. The person so touched and the one outside immediately run round the ring and try to gain the vacant place first. Whoever is last in coming round has to remain outside, until superseded by another whose vacant position is claimed by the person outside by the same course. This innocent amusement is kept up with great activity and éclat for several hours each during the Easter week."

    The ancient customs observed at Hallow Eve had been given up, as was also going to the fairs, which were formerly much resorted to as places of amusement. Wakes are still attended, but by the Roman Catholics only, for the purpose of amusement. They have a custom of playing trumps or Jew’s harp at them, and they also perform a variety of tricks and low plays at these places. The Presbyterians have adopted the more rational amusement of reading useful books, which they procure from their book clubs, and attending schools for the instruction of sacred music.

    They have no patrons’ days nor local customs, except occasionally burning fire on St John’s Eve. They have no peculiar games nor legendary tales, but they have a custom, particularly at wakes, of which the Roman Catholics are very fond, namely of reciting their pedigree, which invariably ends in tracing themselves, or rather their family, back to some important or very wealthy person, whose property has now gone to another family and which they always say should be their own. Singing hymns at funerals has been substituted for the Irish lays. There was no ancient music nor peculiarity of costumes. The people along the Bann did not live as well as those along the east of the parish, as thy use more potatoes and less meat and animal food. (Carmaigraw, the townland listed as the home of "James Boorman" under the heading "Emigration" below, was in the west, along the Bann). Meal, potatoes, bacon, milk, some baker’s bread, salt herrings and a little tea constitute the food of the manufacturing class and small farmers. The labouring class consume very little bacon, baker’s bread or tea. Turf was their only fuel and it was abundant.

    The Presbyterians and Protestants dressed very well, the Roman Catholics not quite so well, but they are much improved of late years, as formerly many might be seen coming to chapel both bare-headed and bare-footed, which is never the case any more. They are long lived, there being many persons who are at above 90 years of age. 6 was the usual number in a family. They might marry very early.

    Slemish Mountain and St Patrick
    The town of Portglenone was approximately 20 kms west of Slemish Mountain, the scene of St Patrick's six-year captivity in his youth as a slave to an Ulster chief Milcho to whom he had been sold by King Nial who had captured and brought him to Ireland. The traditional stories relate that he escaped and went back to his own people; that in repeated visions he, a pious Christian, heard the plaintive cry of the pagan Irish inviting him to come amongst them; that, believing he was called by God to do so, he went first to the monastery of St. Martin of Tours, then to that of St. Germanus of Auxerre, after which he went to Lerins and to Rome; and then, being consecrated bishop, he was sent by Pope Celestine to Ireland, where he arrived in 432. He then travelled throughout the island convincing many Gaelic tribes of the truth of the new religion. The fact that Ireland has no snakes was explained by a legend that St Patrick drove them all into the sea.

    Lough Neagh and Finn MacCool
    Lough Neagh was by far the largest lake in Ireland or Great Britain. It was 27 kms long and 18 kms broad, and has an area of 400 sq km. It borders on all of the Northern Ireland Counties with the exception of Fermanagh which has its own share of Loughs in the form of Lower and Upper Erne.

    Irish Mythology records that Lough Neagh was the result of a quarrel between Finn MacCool and a Scottish giant called Fingal. Finn grabbed a sod of earth and hurled it at Fingal as he was returning to Scotland, his aim however was not great and the sod landed in the Irish sea. It remains there to this day in the form of the Isle of Man.

    Bordered by sedgy marshland, it has few roads along its shore. The best recreational areas lie in the south: Oxford Island, actually a peninsula, has walking trails, and bird lookouts. In the south-west corner a narrow-gauge railway runs through the bogs of Peatlands Park. Salmon and trout swim in the rivers that flow from Lough Neagh. The lake was famous for its eels, with one of the world’s largest eel fisheries at Toome on the north shore.

    Gortfad and St. Columba
    An old church stood also in Gortfad, It belonged to the Culdees (semi-monastic religious recluses who about 1000 AD were the source of almost all lieterary works) and it was believed that St Columkille (more commonly known as St. Columba) very often preached here. An ancient thorn-bush called after his name was cut down about 1760. The graveyard has been reduced in size to the corner of the field and still showed the marks of graves. The last burial took place about 1821.

    About 1770 a stone "preaching house", as it was called, stood in the centre. It was made of 5 stones, 1 being laid on the top. The sides were 6 feet high. It was believed that a priest in ancient times stood in this place and preached to the surrounding crowd. The site was about ¾ of a mile from Portglenone, and was surrounded on the east by a ridge of hills.

    Templemoyle Burial Ground
    An ancient burial ground, called Templemoyle, was on the summit of an elongated hill in the townland of Galgorm Parks, at the side of the Main River, and decayed coffin boards interred in it had been frequently dug up. A standing stone and a holy well, to which pilgrimages were formerly made, are all that indicate its significance; there was no recollection of any building or of a surrounding wall.

    From its clumsy form it was probable that this graveyard was similar to some of the ancient burial places in the parish of Bovevagh, county Londonderry, which are in like manner set round with standing stones with 2 clumsy ones standing as an entrance. Its use may have continued from pagan to Christian times, aided as it was by the superstition of the holy well.

    The standing stone was removed from its original position by the grandfather of the present (c. 1837) tenant and placed where it could be used as a rubbing post for cattle. The other was embedded in a ditch.

    A standing stone at Antrim of the type found in Ahoghill parish.

    Old Church and Graveyard at Craigs
    An old graveyard was in the centre of an open pasture field in the townland of Craigs. It was once nearly an acre in extent, but has been diminished by partial enclosure and cultivations to about half a that size. It had graves of irregular form with rough stones set at the head and foot of each. Infants were occasionally interred here. No graveyard wall was visible, nor was there any recollection of one. It stood on the side of a bleak stony hill.

    An old church formerly stood about 100 yards from the graveyard in the Craigs. It was formerly the parish church of Rasharkin and was next in age to Ahoghill being the 5th church erected in the county. (The 1st was in Connor, the 2nd in Ballymena, the 3rd in Skerry, the 4th in Ahoghill, the 6th in Kildollagh.) It was destroyed in the rebellion of 1641. Its name in Irish was "Donelly’s cell."

    Altar Green
    In the townland of Tullynahinnion, an ecclesiastical place called the Altar Green, was a square pile of stones about 4 feet high, raised by the Catholic priests to celebrate mass on during the prevalence of the Penal Laws, where an old church stood either at it or at an adjacent graveyard. It was destroyed in 1832 and the Green converted into a field. The Green was a small holm along the edge of the stream that runs along the ravine.

    In the townland of Killvcoogan, 1½ miles west from the Altar Green, there was formerly a graveyard. The remains of a church, believed to have been of an coeval with the introduction of Christianity, also stood in it. It has been destroyed.

    McQuillan Castle
    Traces of the foundation of the castle of Rory McQuillan which stood in the townland of Galgorm, at the side of the Main river, in the midst of low flat ground appeared to have been built on a Danish fort. It was burned down in the wars that succeeded the rebellion of 1641.

    Druidical Circles and Cairns
    • In the townland of Slievenagh, the remains of a druidical circle are on the top of a small rocky knoll.
    • In the townland of Finkiltagh, a druidical circle, 1 chain in diameter, stood. 6 of the stones remained in 1837, but they were being carried away for building. They were of various forms and were from 3 to 5 feet high.
    • Some circles of stones were found in the bog of Lisnahunshin, near the dried up lake known by the name of Lough Tamin
    • In the townland of Finkiltagh, a large cairn has been cleared away leaving a very neatly formed paved hearth in the centre.

    Other Standing Stones
    • The Bullock’s Track, on the side of a hill in the townland of Lisnahunshin, commanded a very extensive view. It had a cavity in one side, resembling in form a bullock’s hoof, to which the superstitious resorted for the cure of warts, by dipping their fingers or limbs in the rain water collected in it.
    • The Gaint’s Finger Stone was in the bottom of a valley and at the edge of a little stream, in the adjacent townland of Finkiltagh; its form was peculiar.
    • In the townland of Moylarg, a standing stone was near the edge of the Main river.
    • There were others in the townlands of Killycurry, and Corbally, and another one a few yards from Cullybackey bridge in the ditch at the roadside.

    Fort Hill
    The fort hill in the townland of Moylarg, and at the side of the Main river was an abrupt eminence rising from its edge to the height of 70 feet and having a flat summit. A shallow ditch, similar in nature to those of ordinary Danish forts, cut off a part. The ditch was 30 feet broad, the rampart was made of earth and 10 feet high. A great number of quern-stones had been found from time to time on the several farms adjoining Fort hill. With many "thunderbolts" i.e. stone-cutting instruments or hatchets.

    Forts and Coves
    • In the townlands of Dreen and Moyasset there are earthen forts of the ordinary form, containing coves opening from the parapet.
    • In the townland of Cardonaghy, in the grounds of Mount Davis, there was a small eminence of remarkable coves, with precisely laid stones around the doorways, beyond which were nearly circular rooms. It was connected with a fort.
    • Another cove at Gracehill consisted of a long passage divided at intervals by low-browed doors, and was connected with a fort.

    Neolithic and Bronze Age weapons
    During the deepening of the river at Portglenone by the Board of Works in 1851, many neolithic (2,500 - 2,000 B.C.) and Bronze Age (2,000 - 300 B.C.) weapons were found.

    Other ancient sites in the Irish landscape
    The Parish of Ahoghill

    It was situated about the middle of the west side of the county of Antrim, adjacent to the River Bann, and extending east to west from Ballymena to the River Bann about 8 miles and from north to south 7 miles. The parish contained 35,288 "British statute" acres. The parish of Ahoghill contained the town of Portglenone and the villages of Ahoghill, Gracehill, Culleybackey and Galgorm.

    The town of Portglenone
    The Ordnance Survey Memoirs gave its extreme length as 560 yards and breadth 150 yards and described it as "pleasantly situated at the base of a hilly ridge which traverses the parish parallel to the river, and there is considerable quantity of planting extending for some distance along the latter and almost encompassing the town".

    It had a weekly market on Tuesdays and a fair on the first Monday in every month. A manor court was held once a month for the manor of Cashel, by appointment from Lord O’Neill. Its jurisdiction extended to £20.

    Portglenone grew because of it's position on the navigable River Bann and the important river fording places at Glenone and Portnakim. A castle was first erected in c.1197 A.D. by John de Courcey, the first Anglo-Norman Invader of Ulster, to protect these crossing places between Co. Antrim and Co. Derry and was one of a chain of such castles along the Bann.

    Modern Portglenone had its origins as a castle in 1572 built by Elizabeth I to check the territorial expansion and power of Phelim O’Neill. It was garrisoned by 44 soldiers under a Capt. Stafford, who remained in it until after the colonisation of the country by the English, which commenced soon after. Stafford was given 14 townlands (which he sold) for his services and many of his soldiers preferred remaining in the country to returning to England. Houses for the accommodation of the soldiers were built about the castle.

    On the 6th April 1687, Portglenone was set on fire and burnt by the red hot balls fired from the castle in the advance guard of King James II which came from Dungannon, on it’s way to besiege the city of Derry, but it was soon after rebuilt. The action continued the next day, when the Protestants were defeated and about 150 killed in each side. The castle stood at the distance of 15 chains from the edge of the Bann river and at the western end of the street. It was dismantled 15 years after the battle of the Boyne (1690). At the time it was finally pulled down, about 1822, it was merely a very old-fashioned dwelling. The foundations could only be traced with difficulty in the 1830s.

    A ferry was replaced at some time by a fine timber bridge, which itself was replaced by a seven arch basalt bridge in 1824 and the 3-arch present stone structure in 1853 following the deepening of the river by the Board of Works in 1851.

    The town is aligned on an east-west axis with the river bridge. The main street opens into a long, tapered square known as the Market Square.

    Portglenone House and the Cistercian Monastery
    Portglenone House is close to the south of the town was built by the Bishop of Down and Connor in 1823. The site of Portglenone Castle is situated within it's grounds, which provided residence for Sir Francis Stafford, Governor of Ulster in the reign Queen Elizabeth I. Later about the year 1810 the castle was demolished and the present house built by the Protestant Bishop, Dr. Alexander. It became the ancestral home of the Alexander family.

    In the 1830s, it was occupied by his son the Rev Archdeacon Alexander, the rector of the parish. It was described as "a good 3-storey house set within 250 acres". Some very fine copper beeches, yews and cypresses near the house were planted by the celebrated Bishop Hutchinson, who was one of the bishops tried by James II; his residence stood near the present house.

    History records that Sir Roger Casement often stayed here. During World War II the house was occupied by American Army officers who apparently used it as a centre for entertaining the troops. On the 1st of September 1948 the Abbot of Mount Melleray, a monastery of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (identified by the letters O.C.S.O.) established near Cappoquin, Co. Waterford in 1832, together with two other monks took possession of Portglenone House. Shortly afterwards more monks arrived forming a new monastic community under the guidance of the Superior. On the 7th July 1951 the house was raised to the dignity of an abbey, with the name Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey.

    The Public Buildings
    A Courthouse and Marshallsea was built in Market Square about 1795 for the holding of manor courts. Petty Sessions were also held in it every second Wednesday. It was also used as a schoolhouse. The Portglenone Seceders worshipped there in 1821 but the building ceased to be used as such in the early 20th Century.

    A 2-story house near the centre of the town, fitted up as a police barrack accommodated 16 men.

    The Town's Houses
    In 1835 the town of Portglenone contained 138 houses, of which 4 were 3-storeys high, 73 2-storey and 61 1-storey high. They were all built of stone and mostly thatched. Some comfortable 2-storey houses were mostly occupied by people in business. The 1-storey cabins were in general of a wretched description, all thatched, and filthy and comfortless in their appearance. They were mostly occupied by labourers or tradesmen. The streets were dirty, though from their slope they might be easily kept clean.

    The village of Ahoghill
    The village of Ahoghill was a very small insignificant place, situated a little to the south of the centre of the pariah. It had a small market once a month and 3 fairs annually. A manor court was held here once a month. There was a parish church, a Presbyterian meeting house, 2 Seceding Meeting houses and a Roman Catholic chapel, a fair distance to the south of the village.

    The village of Galgorm
    Galgorm, was a long straggling village about 2 miles from Ballymena, on the road to Ahoghill. It was only remarkable for its castle, an antiquated looking building built by a Dr Colville about the year 1696, whose daughter married an ancestor of Lord Mountcashel. The castle appears to have been built partly in imitation of an ancient defensible residence.

    A manor court was held at Galgorm once a month and another was also held in Ballymena as the manor was partly in Ahoghill. W. Adair Esq. was the lord of the manor.

    The village of Cullybackey
    Cullybackey was a small village on the left bank of the River Main, over which there was a stone bridge. It had neither fairs nor markets. There are 2 Presbyterian meeting houses.

    The community of Gracehill
    Gracehill was a Moravian settlement, situated on the right bank of the Main river, in the townland of Ballykennedy. It was established in 1755. The number of the community was about 700, of whom nearly 300 resided at the settlement. The principal buildings formed 3 sides of a square, and consisted of a church, with houses for the minister and warden. Near the church, was a house for the single sisters, whose time was chiefly occupied in ornamental needlework, the deservedly high reputation of which always commanded a ready sale. A similar building was an academy for boys, which was very well conducted under the superintendence of a clergyman of their own persuasion. The other buildings were a boarding school for girls, an inn, a house for the single brethren where a savings bank was open once a week, and a shop. The houses for the rest of the community were disposed in 2 streets in the production of the sides of the square.

    Its members, with the exception of the clergy, were chiefly mechanics, noted for their quiet orderly behaviour and industrious habits.

    The master of Gracehill school in 1837 was a Moravian, Thomas Courtney. This is the only mention of the name Courtney in the OS Memoirs.

    There were 773 inhabitants in the town, of whom 147 were engaged in dealing or business, as tradesmen or mechanics; 38 were servants or labourers, 30 were shop keepers, innkeepers & publicans, or hucksters & lodging house keepers, and 21 in the constabulary.

    They were in general sober, peaceable and industrious. There were no private gentlemen, and they were all of the middle or lower class, and were considered moral and economical in their habits.

    There was a Sunday School Society library containing 300 volumes of useful works with many subscribers in the town and its vicinity; and there was also a small religious lending library, chiefly containing religious tracts.

    The schools in the parishes of Portglenone and Ahoghill were particularly numerous, and there are references to several well-endowed academies in Ballymena and around Ahoghill, as well as hedge schools and schools supported by societies. In 1835 there were 39 schools with a total of 1900 students. (In more recent times, there were only two primary schools: Portglenone State School, a new school built on the Hiltonstown Road (the old built about 1875 is now the Public Library), and St. Mary's Voluntary School, with 150 pupils, on the Ballymena Road.)

    By the revised census of 1834 there were in this parish 985 Episcopalians, 12,918 Presbyterians, 4120 Roman Catholics, 767 Moravians, 955 other Dissenters, such as Methodists.

    The rector was supported by the tithes, which amounted to £11,000 per year, out of which he provided £150 per year for the curate. Three Seceder clergymen also received £50 per year regium donum. Two Presbyterian ministers receive £50 per year, and a third £75 per year. The Coventer, Independent and Methodist clergymen did not accept the regium donum. The moravian clergyman was paid by his flock, as was the (Catholic) priest.

    About 15, on average, emigrate to America each year, and few return, Canada was the part of America usually resorted to, and spring was the usual season for embarkation. Emigration has declined very much of late years (1830s).

    Not more than from 15 to 20 young men, Roman Catholics, now go to harvests; this practice was also declining greatly for the following reasons:

    1. there was not the same encouragements as formerly;
    2. the farmers and others were unwilling to hire as servants a person who has been in the habit of going to the harvests, as it gives them roving and unsettling notions, besides them acquiring bad habits;; and
    3. it was now considered a disreputable action, and none who valued their character or good name pursued it.
    The OS Memoirs include "James Boorman, 38, Roman Catholic, from Carmaigraw to Liverpool" in a List of persons who migrate annually from the parish of Ahoghill in 1836.

    Markets and Fairs
    A weekly market was held on Tuesday for the sale of meal, yarn, potatoes, flax etc., which were not exposed in any great quantity and the market was small. Every second Tuesday a market was held for the sale of linen; this market had been established for some 40 years and had flourished until the 1830s declining from 2000 webs down to not more than 100 each market. This was due to the weavers who preferred to go to Ballymena, and as those who gave out mill-spun yarn to the manufacturers in the country lived mainly in that town.

    A monthly fair was held in Portglenone on the first Tuesday in every month. All kinds of cattle were shown for sale but not in any great numbers. The spring and winter fairs were the largest. The farmers brought their farm produce to market in their own carts and cars. No tolls or customs were levied. They once were, but had been abolished for some years prior to the 1830s.

    Food Supply
    Portglenone was not very well supplied with butcher’s meat, particularly in spring. The loss was little felt, as few regularly used fresh meat. There was a tolerable supply of poultry, milk, butter, eggs and fruit, but little or no vegetables. Very few cattle were stall fed or grazed (except for milk) about the town. There was no market gardening and ground for pasture usually let at from £2 to £3 per acre.

    Public Transport
    There were no coaches. A car carrying 4 passengers left Portglenone for Ballymena market every Saturday morning and returned in the evening. The return fare was 1s 6d per passenger. 7 post cars were kept for hire at a charge of 8d per mile.

    Carriage of Goods
    There were 4 regular carriers to Belfast, each having 2 carts and horses. They left Portglenone on Thursdays and returned on Monday for a charge of 1s 5d per cwt. Timber, slates, iron and coals were brought from Belfast by water. Pine timber, the most commonly used, cost about £3 per ton, and was carried for about 7s 6d per ton. ‘Countess’ slates cost £4/17/6 per 1000 to lay. The lighters used for these goods carried from 40 to 60 tons, and in fair weather made the trip there and back in 4 days at a usual charge of 7s 6d per ton. Before the canal from Lough Neagh to Belfast was cut, these articles were brought by water from Newry.


    1. G. Donaldson, quoted in "The plantation of Ulster" in Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland. Eds. John and Julia Keay. Harper Collins 1994 London. [back]
    2. p. 1000, Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland. Eds. John and Julia Keay. Harper Collins 1994 London. [back]
    3. John O'Hart, The Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation. Vol. II. 5th ed. 1892 reprinted 1989. [back]
    4. George F. Black, The Surnames of Scotland, Their Origin, Meaning and History. Berlinn 1946 reprinted 1996 Edinburgh. [back]
    5. This section is based on the following articles on Brehon law: L. Ginnell, 'Brehon Laws' in The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed. 1911 Cambridge, and D. Hyde, 'The Brehon Laws' in The Catholic Encyclopedia 1907-1912. New York. [back]
    6. Douglas Hyde, 'The Brehon Laws' in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Robert Appleton Company 1907. New York. [back]
    7. E.A. D'Alton, 'Ireland' in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. Robert Appleton Company 1910. New York. [back]
    8. W. H. Grattan-Flood, 'St. Malachy' in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Robert Appleton Company 1910. New York. [back]
    9. p. 120, 'Kildare' in Ireland, Dorling Kindersley Travel Guides 2000. London. [back]
    10. p. 133, 'Glendalough' in Ireland, Dorling Kindersley Travel Guides 2000. London. [back]
    11. Urban Butler, 'Abbey of Luxeuil' in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Robert Appleton Company 1908. New York. [back]
    12. Joseph Pohle, 'Pelagius and Pelagianism' in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Robert Appleton Company 1911. New York. [back]
    13. Columba Edmonds, 'St. Columbanus' in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Robert Appleton Company 1908. New York. [back]
    14. The Choir of the Monks of the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos recorded some of the ancient Spanish liturgy in 1969, and it was published by Polydor under the totally inappropriate title of "Gregorian Chant". It was very popular at the time. See 'A Selection of Chant Recordings' for a brief introduction to plainchant and its history. [back]

    Last update: 8 Feb 2004.