Editor's Note - Due to limitations of space it was not possible to print this article in full in Review Vol. 8 No. 2 but thankfully the internet has come to our rescue. The following is the complete article.
Mr J. A. Gamble of Emerald Isle Books in Belfast, a noted antiquarian, delivered the first Philip Wilson Memorial Lecture to the Craigavon Historical Society in September 1998.
He gave us a most interesting evening, on a subject which at first seemed almost by definition barren: tracing formal historical references to the Craigavon district. Well, of course, there are none by that name, seeing that "Craigavon" did not exist before the 1970s. But thanks to his extensive acquaintance with old travel books, printed diaries and so on Mr Gamble was able to produce a fascinating pot-pourri of published references to our part of the world over several centuries.
I thought it would be of interest to record this for the Review, so that his knowledge of these by-ways of history should be preserved, and with Mr Gamble's kind help I have been able to transcribe from 13 of the sources he found, and in some cases to photograph illustrations (not reproduced here).
Some of the authors are rather long-winded, and like cookery books they often seem to have copied each other rather than relying on direct experience; but I have tried to let them all speak for themselves, even where they may seem to us to be obviously wrong.
In choosing the extracts transcribed here I have limited myself to the present area of the Borough of Craigavon - i.e. the two old towns of Portadown and Lurgan, the new town of Brownlow, and the surrounding countryside and villages south of Lough Neagh extending as far west as Maghery and Scotch Street; south to Unshinagh and beyond Clare (Gilford); and east to Magheralin, Waringstown and beyond Donacloney. But I have not always been able to resist including references to places outside these limits: the people and the stories preserved for us here are so fascinating.
The extracts are arranged in rough chronological order. I have retained the original spellings, however odd they look, and where necessary have added some editorial comments in italics; spaced dots " . . . " show that some words have been omitted.
My transcriptions come from the following sources traced by Mr Gamble. (Click on the author's name to be taken directly to that source.)
Sir Thomas Molyneux (1661-1733) came from a distinguished family whose members held several important public posts in Dublin during the 17th and 18th centuries. A gentleman of medicine and science in Dublin, he also owned the Castledillon estate outside Armagh. This passage appears in the 1896 book "Historical Notices of Old Belfast and its vicinity" edited by R.M.Young, but bristles there with Victorian-style capital letters. Mr Gamble has kindly made available for this transcription a photocopy of a manuscript in his possession which looks more authentic in terms of spelling.
Journey to ye North, August 7th, 1708
Left Dublin ... to Dundalk, an ugly Town, and, I think, remarkable in nothing but for an extraordinarily good Inn here, as good as most in England.
Monday - We designed for Ardmagh, and went 16 miles towards it, mostly on the very wild mountains, ye Fews. These mountains are of a boggy, heathy soile, ye road thro' them of a rocky gravel; in all this way you meet but one house, and nothing like corn, meadow, or enclosures. We baited on them at the second house, which is calld Blackditch, where is also a small foot Barrack, but without any soldiers. Here was miserable entertainment, not so much as tolerable grass within 2 mile of 'em. From hence 2 or 3 mile brings you to the end of the mountains, and then you enter into a pleasant enclosed corn country, which in 5 or 6 miles brings you thro' very good new made roads to Ardmagh.
Ardmagh is a very pretty town, a burrough situated on a hill. The cathedral, which yet is in the same place where St Patrick first fixed his See, stands at the highest part of the town, and from whence you have all round you a very beautifull prospect of as well an improved and enclosed country as can be ...
Tuesday - We went to my estate at Castledillon, and so to Legacorry, which is a very pretty village belonging to Mr Richardson. From hence Mr Chichester, a relation of Lord Donnegall's, invited us to dine with him at the house where he liv'd, belonging to one Mr Workman, within a mile of Portadown, [blank] miles from Ardmagh. Mr Workman shewed us here vast plantations of Fir Trees of all different ages from ye seed. They thrive here mighty well, and this gentleman makes a considerable gain in this way. After dinner we proceeded on our journey towards Belfast, where Mr Chichester promised to accompany us. We passed thro' Portadown, a pretty village situated on ye River [blank], and where so many protestants were drownd in 41 Rebellion by ye Irish. Here our horses passed over in a wherry, ye bridge which they were then a building, very large and handsom, being not yet finished.
From hence we went on thro' a mighty pretty English-like enclosed country, and well planted with large trees, to Mr Brownlow's town, Lurgan, [blank] miles from Ardmagh, situated within half a mile of ye south banks of Loughneagh. This town is at present the greatest mart of Linnen Manufactorys in ye north, being allmost entirely peopled with Linnen weavers, and all by ye care and cost of Mr Brownlow, who on his first establishing this trade here, bought up every thing that was brought to the market of cloath and Lost at first considerably; but at Length the thing fixing it self, he is now by ye same methods a considerable gainer.
This gentleman is more Curious than ordinary, and has by him several old Irish Manuscripts which he can read and understand very well. He shewd me one in parchment of the Bible (as I remember), pretended to be written by St Patrick's own hand, but this must be a fable. This gentleman is not satisfyd about the petrifying quality of Loughneagh waters, and seems rather to esteem ye stones found on its banks to be lapides sui generis [i.e.stones by nature] than petrifactions.
Having sup'd with him we lay at an Inn and next morning Wednesday - We went on all together towards Lisbon [sic]. About 2 or 3 miles from Lurgan is a village called Magherelin, where lives ye Bishop of Dromore. Here I stop'd to pay a visit to my old tutor, Mr Redman, who lives with his Uncle Cuppaidge, Minister of the place. From hence I followed them, and passed by Moyragh, a fine seat belonging to Sr. Arthur Royden's Family, leaving Warrenston and Hillsborrough to ye right, thro' ye fine improved county of Down, which, with Ardmagh, are ye finest countys in ye North, to Lisbon, [blank] miles. Here we designed to have waited on ye Bishop of Down, who lives within a small mile of ye town; but he being not at home, we spent our time in viewing the Miserable ruins of ye late fire which happened here, and not a house in the town escaped. [The fire is recorded for 20 April 1707, i.e. just the year before.]
If the story of the Phoenix be ever true, sure 'tis in this town. For here you see one of the beautifullest towns perhaps in the 3 kingdoms - all brick houses, slated, of one bigness, all new, and almost finished, rising from the most terrible rubbish that can be imagined. When I stood in ye church yard, I thought I never had seen so dreadfull a scene, all round me ye church burnt to the ground, ye tombstones all crackt with ye fire, vast trees that stand round ye churchyard burnt to trunks. Ld Conway (to whom this town belongs) - his house, tho' at a distance from all the rest in the town, burnt to ashes, and all his gardens in ye same condition, with ye trees in ye church yard.
'Tis scarce conceivable such dismall effects could arise from so small a cause and in so short a time as they relate. Only some turf ashes thrown on a Dunghill, which a brisk wind blowing towards ye town raised and threw on ye shingles of ye next house, which being like spark, by a long drought of weather which had then happend, took fire, and ye wind continuing what it had begun, the whole town, in an hour, was irrecoverably in flames, insomuch that this accident happening whilst they were at church on a Sunday morning, by 4 the fire was extinguished, and not a house and but few of their goods remained in being.
Its rise is likely to be as sudden as its fall. Lord Conway has renewed all ye leases, for a year or 2, rent free; gives them as much wood as they please to cut of his own woods, which are near, and oblidges them to build regular ... This town was formerly the greatest linnen manufactory of the north before the fire; now much removed to Lurgan and other adjacent places...
This author was a "learned and eccentric curate" in Shankill parish church in Lurgan for 16 years from 1742 until his death aged just over 50 in 1759; he had been curate in Donacloney from 1728 to 1736. (An article on him by Mr T J Malcomson appeared in Review vol. 2 no. 1)
Barton's book, "printed upon paper made in Ireland, with types and gravings also of the artificers of this country", was published in Dublin with a long list of subscribers, many of whom had also financed the author's earlier volume entitled "The Analogy of Divine Wisdom, in the Material, Sensitive, Moral, Civil, and Spiritual System of Things".
Mr Barton certainly had some enlightened views for his times: in an Address to the Ladies he wrote: " Knowledge does as well become one sex as the other, and if by a kind of Turkish policy, it be concealed from yours, that is a misfortune ..." His aim was to describe "the works of Nature, which may always teach, and can never corrupt ". His book is illustrated with reproductions of several earlier maps of Lough Neagh, and some very scientific-looking drawings of various pieces of wood or stone found by the lough shore.
In a Lecture on "Metamorphoses, or a catalogue of specimens of the Transmutation of one sort of matter into another", Barton demonstrated item 26 (not illustrated) as follows:
This is a whetstone, which as Mr Anthony Shane apothecary, who was born very near the lake, and is now alive, relates, he made by putting a piece of holly in the water of the lake near his father's house, and fixing it, so as to withstand the motion of the water, and marking the place so as to distinguish it, he went to Scotland to pursue his studies, and seven years after, took up a stone instead of holly, the metamorphosis having been made in that time. This account he gave under his hand writing. The shore thereabouts is altogether loose land, and two rivers discharge themselves into the lake very near that place.
This book is a collection of earlier pieces, some apparently prepared for the Royal Society in London or its counterpart in Ireland the Dublin Philosophical Society. The sections of interest to us include detailed geographical descriptions, first published a century earlier, and a letter dated 1712/13.
The scientific descriptions of the island of Ireland were compiled by Dr Gerard Boate (1604-1650), and are acclaimed as the earliest regional natural history in the English language.
Boate was in fact a Dutchman; he qualified as a doctor at Leyden in 1628 and later became Royal Physician in London. An English Act of Parliament of 1642 set up a fund enabling the Dutch to subscribe finances for the reduction of the Irish: since repayment was to take the form of a grant of forfeited Irish land, Boate decided in 1645 to produce a work which would provide information about the various resources of Ireland. His "Naturall History of Ireland" was published in 1652 for the benefit of adventurers and planters. He wrote it before ever setting foot in Ireland (although he was appointed a doctor to the hospital in Dublin in 1649, shortly after which he died); but he was able instead to rely on his brother Arnold Boate, who had 8 years' service as an army physician in Ireland, and on other members of a group of scientifically - oriented and largely Protestant settlers. William Petty's Down Survey of the 1650s owed much to Boate's example. (Information from S. Mendyk, paper on Gerard Boate in J.R.S.A.I. vol. 115, 1985, pp. 5-12).
Chapter VIII Section 4 , dating from c 1650, describes the Bann and Blackwater rivers, and Section 7 deals with the Property of Lough Neagh of turning Wood into Stone:
The principal river in Ulster ... is the Bann, the which as in her mouth, she is incumbred with several inconveniencies ... she is portable but a few miles from the sea, because of a certain rock, the which running across the channel from one bank to the other, stoppeth all manner of passage ... this rock or cataract, called vulgarly the salmon-leap ... hindring all manner of communication between [the sea] and Lough Neagh, from the which this cataract is distant about three miles: whereas otherwise, if the passage of this river from the sea to the lough were open, ships might by that means go a great way into the land, not only the whole length and breadth of Lough Neagh (which everywhere is very deep and navigable even for great ships) but even a good many miles farther (with good big boats) by means of some rivers that fall into it, especially the Blackwater, which is the principallest of them all.
For the Bann ... is not comparable to the Blackwater for breadth nor depth, being rather a brook than a river, the which being very shallow at other times, doth rise so excessively upon the falling of much rain, that it is one of the most dangerous and terrible brooks of all Ireland, in the which therefore from time to time many men and horses have been drowned at the passing of it ...
We must say something of the wonderful property which generally is ascribed to Lough Neagh, of turning wood into stone; whereunto some do add, to double the wonder, that the wood is turned not only into stone, but into iron; and that a branch or pole being stuck into the ground somewhere by the side where it is not too deep, after a certain space of time one shall find that piece of the stick which stuck in the ground, turned into iron, and the middle, as far as it was in the water, into stone; the upper end, which remained above the water, keeping its former nature. But this part of the history I believe to be a fable: for my brother, who hath been several times in places not far distant from that lough and who of the English thereabouts inhabiting hath enquired this business with singular diligence, doth assure me, that he never could learn any such thing; but that the turning of wood into stone was by everyone believed for certain, as having been tried divers times by several persons: saying moreover to have understood of them, that the water hath this vertue only at the sides, and that not everywhere, but only in some few places, especially about that part where the river Black-water dischargeth herself into the lough. He could never come to speak with any persons, who themselves had tried this matter; but with several, who affirmed, that to their knowledge it had certainly been done by others of their acquaintance ...
[This is] credible enough, seeing that in many parts of the world there are found waters indued with that vertue ... and there are found little stones which look just like wood ... until one come to touch and handle them: for then by their coldness, hardness and weight, it appeareth that they are not wood but stone ... formerly having been wood indeed ... and in length of time having been turned into a stony substance by the vertue of that water ...
Another section reproduces a letter (undated) written by "the learned and ingenious Mr Will. Molyneux, Secretary to the Society of Dublin", a relation of the Thomas Molyneux in Source 1.
He is inclined to believe the story of the Lough Neagh stones , but "'tis agreed by all that no wood will petrify in this lough except holly ..." and he comments "that what we call Lough Neagh stone was once wood, is most probable ... I am certainly informed, that a gentleman of the country about this lough a little before the rebellion [presumably 1641] cut down some timber for building, and amongst others cut down a large holly tree, but being diverted by the rebellion from building, his timber lay on the ground in the place where it was fell'd, upon the banks of the lough, all the miserable time of the war; till at last, the kingdom being settled, the gentleman went to look for his timber, and found the other timber overgrown with moss, and the holly petrified, tho' the water of the lough had never reach'd it ..."
Finally, there is a separate section dating from 1712-13, entitled "Some Observations upon Lough-Neagh in Ireland in a Letter from Francis Nevil Esq to the Lord Bishop of Clogher".
This letter, dated Belturbet, Feb. 12 1712/13, carries some first-hand conviction from a man who had worked on early plans for the Newry Canal.
My Lord ... I can assure your lordship, there is no such petrifying quality in that water. I lived fourteen years in Dungannon, within five miles of it, and was very often there, about the skirts, for many miles, and in a boat upon it several times. I have taken the survey of a great part of the shore thereof, when I drew the scheme for making the Glan-bog navigable, from the lough thro' part of the upper Bann to Newry; which was done at such a time as the waters were very low, and a large strand left in several places: and many trees lay in the verge of the lough, which I believe might some of them have lain there some hundreds of years, which had been overturn'd by the lough's encroaching on the land, where great woods had grown; and many roots of great trees were standing in their proper places, where the water had prevail'd on the land, and no alteration in the wood at all, but it was firm, sound wood, without any petrifaction.
I have had an occasion ... to talk to Mr Brownlow upon this subject, a great part of his estate in Ardmagh, lying contiguous to the lough; and he told me, that he did believe that there was not any petrifying quality in the water; for that he had made several tryals, and had ordered holly stakes to be driven into the ground within the verge of the lough, and that some of them continued there many years, but that he found no alteration ...
Mr Nevil goes on to say that he himself has seen great quantities of stones that look like wood: "several pieces big and little, some like oak, some ash, and some like holly, with bark, grain, and knots like wood ... and if ever they were wood, they were petrified by the earth, and not by the water ..."
The letter concludes with a more positive passage: " ...That there is some healing quality in the water of this lough is certain ... ". He refers to part of the shore called Fishing-bay, half a mile broad and bounded by the school-lands of Dungannon:
The first occasion of taking notice of this bay for cure, happened to be no longer ago than the reign of King Charles II and was thus: There was one Mr Cunningham, that lived within a few miles of the place, who had an only son grown to man's estate. This young man had the evil [the King's Evil, i.e. scrofula or some other skin disease] to that degree, that it run upon him in eight or ten places: he had been touch'd by the king, and all means imaginable us'd for his recovery: but all did no good, and his body was so wasted, that he could not walk. When all hopes of his recovery were passed, he was carried to the lough, where he was washed and bathed; and in eight days time, bathing each day, all the sores were dry'd up, and he became cured, and grew very healthy, married, begot children, and lived nine or ten years after. This account I had from Captain Morris, and his brother, who were eye-witnesses, and at whose house the young man lay, while he continued to bathe there ... Now great crowds come there on Midsummer-eve, of all sorts of sick; and sick cattle are brought there likewise and driven into the water for their cure; and people do believe that they receive benefit ... I look upon it to be one of the pleasantest bathing places I ever saw.
John Wesley, the Methodist preacher, lived from 1703 to 1791. He visited Ireland 21 times between 1747 and 1789, riding all through the country on horseback (until in his 70s he grew too frail and had to resort to a chaise). His daily journal often includes comments on people and places, as well as on the sermons he preached, the medical advice he prescribed - and the improving books which he studied in the saddle as he went.
July 1756 - Wesley's sixth visit to Ireland
Mon. 19 - No sooner did we enter Ulster [from the South] than we observed the difference. The ground was cultivated just as in England; and the cottages not only neat, but with doors, chimneys, and windows . . .
Mon. 26 - The country between Lisburn and Moira is much like Berkshire, having fruitful vales on each side of the road, and well-wooded hills running even with them, at a small distance. At seven I preached in the market-house at Lurgan. Many of the Gentry were met at the room over it, it being the time of the assembly. The violins were just tuning; but they ceased till I had done; and the novelty at least fixed and drew the attention of the whole company.
Wed. 28 - I read Mr Barton's ingenious "Lectures on Lough Neagh", near Lurgan, which turns wood into stone, and cures the King's-evil, and most cutaneous distempers. [See Source 2]
Under part of this lake there is first a stratum of firm clay, and under that a stratum of trees four foot thick, all compacted into one mass, doubtless by the pressure of the incumbent earth, (perhaps water too) which it has probably sustained ever since the General Deluge. In the evening we had the largest congregation which I have seen since we left Cork. It was almost as large at five in the morning. Why should we despair of doing good in Lurgan also ?
May 1758 - Wesley's seventh visit to Ireland
Mon. 8 - I rode to Newry [on the way north from Tullamore] and preached at seven to a large and serious congregation.
Tues. 9 - We rode by the side of the canal, through a pleasant vale, to Terryhugan. The room built on purpose for us here, is three yards long, two and a quarter broad, and six foot high. The walls, floor, and ceiling are mud; and we had a clean chaff bed. At seven I preached in a neighbouring ground, having a rock behind me, and a large congregation sitting on the grass before me . . .
Wed. 10 - I suppose all the inhabitants of the village, with many others, were present at five in the morning. Among these was a poor woman, brought to bed ten days before, who had walked four Irish miles (seven English) with her child in her arms, to have it baptised by me ...
Tues. 16 - We rode to Lurgan [from Carrickfergus]. In the morning I walked to Lough-Neagh, the most beautiful lake I ever saw. On the south-east shore stands a small mount, supposed to be raised by the Danes; on the top of which is a kind of arbour, benched round with turf, which might contain twenty or thirty people. This was the hottest day I ever felt in Ireland: near as hot as any I remember in Georgia.
The next morning I was desired to see the house of an eminent scholar near the town. [Mr Malcomson states that this was the Rev. Barton's house on Bird Island.] The door into the yard we found nailed up; but we got in at a gap which was stopped with thorns. I took the house, at first, for a very old barn, but was assured he had built it within five years; not indeed by any old, vulgar model, but purely to his own taste. The walls were part mud, part brick, part stone, and part bones and wood. There were four windows, but no glass in any, lest the pure air should be kept out. The house had two stories, but no staircase, and no door. Into the upper floor we went by a ladder, through one of the windows; through one of the lower windows, into the lower floor, which was about four feet high. This floor had three rooms; one square, the second had five sides, the third, I know not how many. I give a particular decription of this wonderful edifice, to illustrate that great truth - There is no folly too great even for a man of sense, if he resolve to follow his own imagination!
April/May 1760 - Wesley's eighth visit to Ireland
Mon. 28 [April] - I rode to Rathfryland, seven Irish miles from Newry, a small town built on the top of a mountain, surrounded by a deep valley, and at a small distance by higher mountains.
The Presbyterian minister had wrote to the Popish priest to keep his people from hearing; but they would not be kept : Protestants and Papists flocked together to the meadow where I preached, and sat on the grass, still as night, while I exhorted them to 'repent, and believe the gospel'. The same attention appeared in the whole congregation at Terryhugan in the evening, where I spent a comfortable night in the prophet's chamber, nine feet long, seven broad, and six high. The ceiling, floor, and walls were all of the same marble, vulgarly called clay.
May 1, Thursday - I rode to Moira. Soon after twelve, standing on a tombstone near the church, I called a considerable number of people to 'know God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent'. We were just opposite to the Earl of Moira's house, the best finished of any I have seen in Ireland. It stands on a hill, with a large avenue in front, bounded by the church on the opposite hill. The other three sides are covered by orchards, gardens and woods, in which are walks of various kinds... [The Earl of Moira was at this date still Sir John Rawdon, whose earldom dated only from December 1761 - but Wesley used to write his formal journal up from his diaries after the event. Sir John had asked the rector to allow Mr Wesley to preach in his church, but the rector refused. Sir John then sent the bellman round to summon the people to the service. Sir John's wife was the eldest daughter of the Countess of Huntingdon, who gave her name to the religious grouping Lady Huntingdon's Connection.]
April 1762 - Wesley's ninth visit to Ireland
Mon. 26 April - In the evening I preached to a large congregation in the market-house at Lurgan. I now embraced the opportunity which I had long desired, of talking with Mr Miller, the contriver of that statue which was in Lurgan when I was there before. It was the figure of an old man, standing in a case, with a curtain drawn before him, over against a clock which stood on the other side of the room. Every time the clock struck, he opened the door with one hand, drew back the curtain with the other, turned his head, as if looking round on the company, and then said, with a clear, loud, articulate voice, 'Past one, two, three,' and so on. But so many came to see this (the like of which all allowed was not to be seen in Europe) that Mr Miller was in danger of being ruined, not having time to attend to his own business; so, as none offered to purchase it, or to reward him for his pains, he took the whole machine in pieces: nor has he any thought of ever making anything of the kind again.
Tues. 27 - I preached in Lurgan at five; in Terryhugan at ten; and at two in the market-house at Rich-Hill ... At six I preached in the new preaching-house at Clanmain, the largest in the north of Ireland; and the people were all alive, being stirred up by Mr Ryan, once an attorney, but now living upon his own estate.
Note on the Miller family of Lurgan, published in Miscellanea of the Ulster Journal of Archaeology vol.12 second series, by Wm. Jackson Pigott.
William Miller of Loughanashane and the Montiaghs, near Lurgan ...prerogative will proved in 1779, constructor of speaking clock, married, about 1760, Sarah, third daughter of Edward and Sarah Hoope of Hoope Hill, Lurgan ... William Miller also painted on glass likenesses of himself and his wife and friends. He made a very extraordinary picture of George Whitefield preaching in a timber yard in Lurgan, the multitude of eager faces around him said to be likenesses of the Lurgan people of that day - amongst others, a well-known idiot woman is easily distinguished ... William Miller ... died while still a young man ...He was, so far as I have been able to ascertain, a cambric manufacturer ... a Presbyterian.
April 1767 - Wesley's eleventh visit to Ireland
Thursday 9 - The House would not contain the people at Tanderagee, even at five in the morning; so I went to the market-house ...
I was not glad to hear that some of the Seceders had settled in these parts also. Those of them who have yet fallen in my way are more uncharitable than the Papists themselves. I never yet met a Papist who avowed the principle of murdering heretics; but a Seceding minister being asked, 'Would not you, if it was in your power, cut the throats of all the Methodists ?' replied directly, 'Why, did not Samuel hew Agag in pieces before the Lord ?' I have not yet met a Papist in this kingdom who would tell me to my face all but themselves must be damned; but I have seen Seceders enough who make no scruple to affirm none but themselves could be saved. And this is the natural consequence of their doctrine: for, as they hold (1) that we are saved by faith alone; (2) that faith is the holding such and such opinions; it follows, all who do not hold those opinions have no faith, and therefore cannot be saved.
About noon I preached near Dawson's Grove to a large and zealous congregation; but to a far larger in the evening at Kilmararty [where he was the guest of George Joyce]. I do not wonder the Gospel runs so swiftly in these parts. The people in general have the finest natural tempers which I ever knew; they have the softness and courtesy of the Irish, with the seriousness of the Scots and the openness of the English.
Fri. 10 - At one I preached at Portadown, a place not troubled with any kind of religion. I stood in the street and cried, 'Now God commandeth all men everywhere to repent'. The people gathered from all sides, and, when I prayed, kneeled down upon the stones, rich and poor, all round me. In the evening I preached again at Kilmararty. At five in the morning the house was well filled ...
Wed. 15 - I rode to Armagh. Half an hour before the time of preaching, an officer came, and said, 'Sir, the Sovereign (or Mayor) orders me to inform you, you shall not preach in his town.'
In order to make the trial, I walked to the market-house at six. I had just begun when the Sovereign came. I was informed his name was Harcourt. He was talking very loud, and tolerably fast, when a gentleman came and said, 'Sir, if you are not allowed to preach here, you are welcome to preach in Mr M'Gough's avenue'. Mr M'Gough, one of the chief merchants in the town, himself showed us the way. I suppose thrice as many people flocked together there, as would have heard me in the market-house ...
April 1769 - Wesley's twelfth visit to Ireland
Mon. April 3 - I took horse at four [in Dublin] ; and notwithstanding the north-east wind, came to Newry before five in the evening ...
Tues. 11 - [returning from Lisburn, Belfast and Carrickfergus] I preached in the market-house in Tanderagee . . . Thursday and Friday I preached at Dawson's Grove and Kilmararty; and on Saturday 15 rode to Derry-Anvil, a little village out of all road, surrounded with bogs, just like my old parish of Wroote, in Lincolnshire. The congregation, however, was exceeding large and exceeding lively...
Mon. 17 - In the evening, and twice on Tuesday, I preached to to a genteel yet serious audience, in Mr M'Gough's avenue, at Armagh . . .
Wednesday 19 - As it rained, I chose rather to preach in M'Gough's yard. The rain increasing, we retired into one of his buildings. This was the first time that I preached in a stable; and I believe more good was done by this than all the other sermons I have preached at Armagh . . .
June 1773 - Wesley's fourteenth visit to Ireland
On Friday and Saturday [11 and 12 June] I preached at Portadown, Kilmararty, Dawson's Grove, and Tanderagee . . .
Mon. 14 June - After preaching at Lurgan, I enquired of Mr Miller, whether he had any thought of perfecting his speaking statue, which had so long lain by. He said that he had altered his design; that he intended, if he had life and health, to make two, which would not only speak, but sing hymns alternately with an articulate voice; that he had made a trial, and it answered well. But he could not tell when he should finish it, as he had much business of other kinds, and could only give his leisure hours to this. How amazing is it that no man of fortune enables him to give all his time to the work!
I preached in the evening at Lisburn. All the time I could spare here was taken up by poor patients. I generally asked 'What remedies have you used ?' and was not a little surprised. What has fashion to do with physic? Why (in Ireland, at least), almost as much as headdress. Blisters, for anything or nothing, were all the fashion when I was in Ireland last. Now the grand fashionable medicine for twenty diseases (who would imagine it ?) is mercury sublimate ! Why is it not a halter or a pistol? They would cure a little more speedily . . .
Arthur Young, an Englishman, was a distinguished economist. The title page notes that as well as being a Fellow of the Royal Society in London he was a honorary member of the Societies of Dublin, York and Manchester; the Oeconomical Society of Berne; the Palatine Society of Agriculture at Manheim, and the Physical Society at Zurich.
July 1776 - Lurgan
. . . In the evening reached Mr Brownlow's at Lurgan . . . This gentleman has made very great improvements in his domain: he has a lake at the bottom of a slight vale, and around are three walks, at a distance from each other; the centre one is the principal, and extends 2 miles. It is well conducted for leading to the most agreeable parts of the grounds, and for commanding views of Loch [sic] Neagh, and the distant country; there are several buildings, a temple, green-house, &c. The most beautiful scene is from a bench on a gently swelling hill, which rises almost on every side from the water. The wood, the water, and the green slopes, here unite to form a very pleasing landscape. Let me observe one thing much to his honour: he advances his tenants money for all the lime they chuse, and takes payment in 8 years with rent.
Upon enquiring concerning the emigrations, I found that in 1772 and 1773, they were at the height; that some went from this neighbourhood with property, but not many. They were in general poor and unemployed. They find here, that when provisions are very cheap, the poor spend much of their time in whiskey-houses. All the drapers wish that oatmeal was never under 1d. a pound. Though farms are exceedingly divided, yet few of the people raise oatmeal enough to feed themselves; all go to market for some. The weavers earn by coarse linens 1s. a day, by fine 1s.4d. and it is the same with the spinners, the finer the yarn the more they earn; but in common a woman earns about 3d. For coarse linens they do not reckon the flax hurt by standing for seed. Their own flax is much better than the imported.
This being market day at Lurgan, Mr Brownlow walked to it with me, that I might see the way in which the linens were sold. The cambricks are sold early, and through the whole morning; but when the clock strikes eleven the drapers jump upon stone standings, and the weavers instantly flock about them with their pieces; the bargains are not struck at a word, but there is a little altercation, whether the price shall be one-halfpenny or a penny a yard more or less, which appeared to me useless. The draper's clerk stands by him, and writes his master's name on the pieces he buys, with the price; and, giving it back to the seller, he goes to the draper's quarters, and waits his coming. At twelve it ends; then there is an hour for measuring the pieces, and paying the money; for nothing but ready money is taken; and this is the way the business is carried on at all the markets. Three thousand pieces a week are sold here, at 35s each on an average, or £5,250, and per annum £273,000, and this is all made in a circumference of not many miles.
The town parks about Lurgan let at 40s an acre, but the country in general at 14s. The husbandry is exceedingly bad, the people minding nothing but flax and potatoes.
Leaving Lurgan I went to Warrenstown, and waiting upon Mr Waring had some conversation with him upon the state of the country. He was of opinion, that the emigrations had not thinned the population, for at present they are crowded with people; but he thinks if the war ends in favour of the Americans, that they will go off in shoals . . .
[Arthur Young here gives very full details of the local methods of growing flax and making linen cloth from it, which I have omitted as being too technical. ] . . . The weavers and spinners generally live upon oatmeal and potatoes, and milk, with meat once a week, and have their belly full . . . Many weavers' families have tea for breakfast. . .
Leaving Warrenstown, we reached Hillsborough that night; passed thro' Dromore, a miserable nest of dirty mud cabbins. Lord Hillsborough has marked the approach to his town by many small plantations on the tops of the hills, through which the road leads. The inn of his building is a noble one for Ireland.
July 27th walked to the church built at the expense of Lord Hillsborough; there are few such in Ireland. It is a very handsome stone edifice, properly ornamented, and has a lofty spire, which is a fine object to the whole country. . . To the improvements - the lake, woods, and lawn are pretty; but a well-built and flourishing town in the hands of an absentee, whose great aim is to improve and adorn it, does him more credit than twenty domains.
Reached Lisburne, and waited on the Bishop of Downe, who was so obliging as to send for an intelligent linen-draper, to give me such particulars as I wanted of the manufacture in that neighbourhood. . .
Luccombe's relaxed and chatty style - clearly backed with an extensive set of reference books by other authors - lives up well to the grandiose claims of his title page.
. . . We now hastened to Newry, from whence the canal passes northward about 14 miles, when it joins the river Ban, not far from Lurgan, in the county of Armagh. It was began [sic] in 1730, and finished in 1741.
In many places it is carried in a direct line for a considerable space; in others it forms several angles. It takes a pretty equal course between the counties of Armagh and Down, but the greatest part of it seems to pass through the latter.
In cutting a new channel for carrying on this work, south of the place where the river Cusher falls in, at Stranmore, near Monallen [sic], a forest was discovered, or a great multitude of fallen trees of oak, ash, alder, &c. lying for near a mile in length, under a covering of earth, in some places six, in others eight feet deep; many of them of large bulk tumbled down one over another, some lying in strait lines, and others in an oblique or transverse position.
Discoveries of this kind are very frequent in Ireland, and there are few bogs but what afford plenty of various sorts of timber buried in them deeper or shallower in proportion as the loose and spongy earth lies so; for all such that we have observed, lie on a body of marle, clay or gravel. It would be vain, with the vulgar opinion, to suppose that these trees have been here since the universal deluge. [He means, of course, the Biblical Flood.] If trees thus found, were felled by the deluge, they would all lie in one position, whereas in the instance before us, the contrary appears; none of them would be found with the mark of the ax on them, or in part burned, as is often the case.
Between Pointz's Pass and Teryhogan a rivulet from a bog falls into the canal, called in Irish Ellenmoney, or the wonderful bog, from the nature of its current, that immediately on its rising separates into two branches, which take a northerly and southerly course; one branch running towards Lough-Neagh, and the other towards Newry. Between these places lies the highest ground of the whole canal, where by means of two locks the water is forcibly retained on a level for near three miles; were it not for this contrivance, as the course of the waters incline north and south, the intermediate space would be left dry . . .
Gilford, a village on the river Ban. The meanders of the river about this place, over which is a good stone bridge, and the rising grounds surrounding it, adorned with wood, and the bottoms variegated with bleach-yards, afford altogether an agreeable prospect, especially in the bleaching season.
From thence it is about three miles north-east to Waringstown, antiently called Clan-Connell, which is a neat well planted and improved village, about two miles south-west of Magherelin, and near fourteen north of Newry. In this town and the neighbourhood of it the linen manufacture is carried on to great advantage. Near it is one of those artifical mounds called Danish raths, which was opened about the year 1684, and in it was found a large flat quarry-stone, placed upright like a door, which being removed, laid open an entrance into a narrow low passage, about ten feet long, and only wide enough to admit a man to creep in upon his hands and knees. This passage led into a small round vault, about six feet high and eight feet wide, placed in the center of the mount. In the middle of the vault four long small stones were fixed in the ground, each about two and a half feet high, standing as supporters to a flat quarry-stone, two feet and a half long, and twenty inches broad, placed on them in the manner of a table; under which on the ground stood an handsome earthen urn, of a dark brownish colour, as if not thoroughly baked, about a quarter of an inch thick in its sides, containing broken peices of burnt bones, mixed with ashes and fragments of burnt wood.
Several gentlemen have houses and pleasant seats in and near this town, which are too numerous to be mentioned particularly, and a greater number of well built farm houses, with plantations round them, appear within half a mile of it, than perhaps in any other part of the kingdom of the same compass, all inhabited by industrious protestants, most of whom are engaged in the linen business.
The elegant seat of the Warings is at Waringstown, and their house, built on a rising ground, commands the prospect of a pleasant well improved country. A small walk from the house leads to a well finished church, roofed with Irish oak, and remarkable for the workmanship of it.
From Waringstown we proceeded to Maralin, or Magherelin, a small, well planted, and well watered village, on the river Lagan, where the bishop of Dromore has a good house. This village has a handsome church, and a good bridge over the Lagan.
From thence we visited Lurgan, in the county of Armagh, distant about two miles. This is one of the prettiest little market-towns in the north of the kingdom.
Its situation is extremely pleasant, in a fine fertile and prosperous country, and in the midst of the linen manufactory. It stands upon a gentle eminence, about two miles from and commanding a fine prospect of Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the kingdom.
The inhabitants are genteel, sensible, and friendly; and although the town is not very considerable, yet, from a general concurrence in the same agreeable disposition, they have established a very sociable and entertaining assembly, to which, throwing aside all the ridiculous distinctions and exclusions on the circumstances of birth and fortune, the offspring of pride, upon vanity and ignorance, every person is welcome, who is qualified to appear with decency, and to behave with good manners. [Presumably the "assembly" or evening entertainment which John Wesley noticed in July 1756 - see Source 4.]
They seem, indeed, to exert themselves to support the reputation of their town, which, from the similarity of its general figure of the language, manners, and dispositions of its inhabitants, to those of the English, had, for many years acquired the name of Little England, and an Englishman at Lurgan indeed will think himself in his own country . . .
From Lurgan we visited Lough Neagh, or Lough Eagh, of which we shall give some account: it is the largest lake, or meer in Ireland, Lough-Earn in the county of Fermanagh not equalling it in its area; and though the latter is more diversified by numerous islands and woods, yet considered as a piece of water it is far inferior to this. It exceeds in compass any fresh water lake in Britain, and perhaps few in Europe go beyond it, those of Ladoga and Onega in Muscovy, and of Geneva in Switzerland excepted. It is pretty much of an oval figure, indented with little irregularities on every side, and reckoned to be twenty English miles long from the north-west point to the south-east, near fifteen miles of the same measure from north-east to south-west, and from ten to twelve miles broad at a medium, overspreading near 100,000 acres of land. We do not reckon in these dimensions a smaller lake, called Lough-Beg, or the Little Lake, that lies at the north-west end of it which is near four miles long, and as much broad, and detached from it by a narrow channel.
The great lake is fed by six considerable rivers, four of smaller note, and several brooks; yet has but one narrow outlet to discharge this great flux of water at Toom, first into Lough-Beg, and from thence through the Lower Ban into the northern sea. This narrow outlet, and lesser lake, being within a small matter on a level with the great lake, do not afford sufficient vent to discharge the waters of it in the winter months and rainy seaons; by which means the water in Lough-Neagh is at such times raised eight or ten feet above its level in summer, and overflows the bogs and low grounds that lie on its coast, thereby annually gaining on the high grounds by washing them away; whilst the mud and sand continually rise at Toom, choak up the narrow passage, and consequently raise the water in the lake every year more and more.
The country which encompasses it, is so level, that the farthest opposite shore cannot be discovered from one end, and it appears like an ocean; in stomy weather its waves break suddenly, by reaon of their being fresh water, and are much more dangerous than those in the sea. There is an island in it, called Ram, on which there is a round tower.
This lake is remarkable for two properties; first, for a warm and healing quality in the water; and secondly, for converting wood into stone.
As to the first property it is a question, whether it be diffused through all parts of the lake, or confined to one side of it, called the Fishing Bay, bounded by the school lands of Dungannon, on the west side of it. This bay is about half a mile broad, has a fine sandy bottom without a pebble in it; so that one may walk in it with safety and ease from the depth of the ankle to the chin, upon an easy declivity, at least 300 yards, before you come to that depth . . . a conjecture may arise, why the lake may in this quarter have the property we are enquiring after. For it is well known, that the neighbouring lands (and probably the lands here overspread by the lake) abound with bodies of coal, which are strongly impregnated with sulphur and bitumen, thro' which the mineral waters and streams passing into the lake, and mixing with the water of it, may perhaps have some share in producing the medicinal quality, and the warmth before mentioned.
The occasion of first taking notice of this bay for any cure is said to have been in the reign of Charles II, in the instance of the son of one Mr Cuningham [sic : Source 2 spells it Cunningham], who had the evil to a shocking degree. He was touched by the king (to whose royal person a virtue was at that time ascribed of healing this distemper) and all imaginable means were unsuccessfully used for his recovery; his body was so wasted that he could not walk: but at length he was bathed in this lough for eight days, in consequence of which, his sores were dried up, and he grew healthy, married, begot children, and lived several years after. From that time, many frequented the lake, who were afflicted with running sores, and returned home perfectly healed. These instances are so well attested, that they admit of no dispute. Yet we can scarce be persuaded, but that the lake was much more early remarked for a healing property, than at the period here assigned; though it might in a long tract of time have gone into disuse, and been neglected and fogotten. The very name of it seems to hint at this quality; Neasg and Neas in Irish signifying an ulcer or sore. How easy is Neasg corrupted into Neagh ?
The chymical analysis of this water discovers nothing in it peculiar or different from the contents of other lough or bog waters in this kingdom, all of them exhibiting very nearly the same sort of residuum, as particularly appeared by experiments made in concert on the waters of this lough, and the famed Lough-Lheighs, or the healing lough, in the county of Cavan, each yielding upon evaporation a small quantity of bituminous, or at least sulphurous matter, from which they both seem to derive their healing quality before hinted at. For it is observable, that the solid contents of these waters differ greatly from those of most common springs, which generally contain a dissolved native lime-stone, which the waters of these loughs do not; but a dark brown viscid matter, sparkling, stinking, and burning black on a red-hot iron: and herein they differ greatly from other petrifying waters of this kingdom and Great Britain, which abound with lime-stone, and whose petrifactions are a true native lime-stone . . .
The second quality ascribed to this lake, of petrifying and converting wood into stone, challenges some attention; and the more so, as antiquity and universal consent have conspired to give it this quality. Credulity has been fruitful in adding a remarkable particular to this property ascribed to the lough, viz. that the wood is turned partly into stone, and partly into iron, or that the part fixed in the earth becomes iron, and the middle of it, as far as remains in the water, is converted into stone, the upper end above the water retaining its former nature. But though universal consent has been so favourable to tradition, as to allow Lough-Neagh stone to be holly, or other timber petrified; yet whether the petrifying virtue resides in the water of the lough, or in the neighbouring soil, has been the subject of some dispute. That the water is not possessed of any such virtue has been determined by an experiment purposely made, by driving a stake of holly into the ground within the verge of the lake, which was found to continue there many years without any alteration or petrifaction; and perhaps upon an impartial scrutiny, there will not appear any incontestible evidence of the soil possessing this virtue, or, in other terms, that Lough-Neagh stones were once wood.
Having examined Lough Neagh, we returned thro' Lurgan to Moyrah, a thriving village, consisting of one good street, where the linen manufacture is carried on to advantage . . .
1796-7: A Frenchman's walk through Ireland, by De Latocnaye, translated from the French in 1917 by John Stevenson and published in 1984 by Blackstaff Press with an introduction by J. A. Gamble
In the section headed "Belfast - Armagh - Newry" De Latocnaye writes:
I came to Banbridge . . . This country is entirely occupied in the manufacture of linen, but the late troubles have made trade to languish. The mills, however, are still going, and it is hoped that a year of peace will restore order and prosperity. Military law was rigorously enforced here on the inhabitants; they were not permitted to have lights in their houses after nine o'clock, and any person found on the streets after that hour was in danger of being arrested.
A fair was held during the time I stayed in this little town, and it passed over quite peacefully; the soldiers promenaded through the market-place and obliged women who wore anything green, ribbon or otherwise, to take it off. (The green ribbon was the distinction adopted by the United Irishmen.)
Had one-fourth of the precaution taken here been observed in France, there would certainly have been no Revolution . . . It is remarkable how in France a weak government and foolish ministers have led a people entirely Royalist to slay a King they loved, and whose good qualities they respected, and to destroy a flourishing monarchy for whose prosperity they had been enthusiastic; while here, surrounded by enemies, a vigorous government in Ireland has been able to repress, and hold in the path of duty, a people discontented and seduced by the success of the French innovations.
The boldness of the United Irishmen increased each day so long as the Government did not interfere; many who had joined them had done so out of fear, and there were with them a number of weak, undecided people ready to range themselves on the winning side, and so immediately on the government's determination to act vigorously, it was only necessary to let the soldiers appear upon the scene, and the difficulties disappeared.
The poor peasant on this occasion, as in so many others, was the dupe of rogues, who put him in the front, and were very careful themselves to stay behind the curtain. The troops went through the country, burning the houses of those who were suspected of having taken the 'Union' oath, or of having arms, and on many occasions they acted with great severity.
On the way to Armagh I passed through a superb country; there is a charming valley, and well-wooded, near Tandragee. Between this town and Armagh I met a company of Orangemen, as they are called, wearing orange cockades, and some of them having ties of the same colour. The peasantry seemed very much afraid of them. I went into one or two cabins to rest myself, and was offered, certainly, hospitality in the ordinary way, but it did not seem to be with the same air as before, and at last, near the town, a good woman said to me, 'You seem to have come from far, my dear Sir, I hope that your umbrella or the string of it will not bring you into trouble'. I laughed at the good woman's fears, but, on reflection, I felt that since she had remarked that my umbrella was greenish, and the cord of a bright green, soldiers might make the same observation, and that in any case it would be very disagreeable to have any trouble over such a silly thing, and I cut the green cord off my umbrella.
Arriving in the town of St Patrick, I went immediately to pay my duty to his metropolitan church. The foundations of this, they say, were laid by the Saint himself on the ruins of a Druidic establishment . . . The old cathedral has been destroyed and burned several times, and has been rebuilt always upon the same spot. The city had been reduced to the miserable state of a little country town, but the last Archbishop, the Rev. Robertson [sic], being a man of learning and friend of the public welfare, liberal, and without family, set himself to improve and increase it, so that at present it is really a very handsome little city ...
Primate Robertson has built at his own charges an observatory, and has furnished funds to give it an annual income of £300 sterling, which is paid to the person in charge. He has also established, at great cost, a well-furnished library, which is open to the public four hours every day. He has erected a hospital and several other edifices, and certainly merits as much gratitude from the inhabitants of the diocese as may be considered due to St Patrick himself.
The revenues of the Archbishop amount to eight or nine thousand pounds sterling per annum, but it is known that the estates belonging to the seat bring in to those who have farmed them £150,000. If the Archbishop had such an income, it might well excite the jealousy of the Government, as well as the discontent of the rent-farmers, who regard these estates as heritages belonging to their familieis, thus, prudently, the leases are renewed every year at the same price, plus a considerable pot-de-vin. The demesne of the Archbishop is superb; the Palace, though very large and well built, does not seem too magnificent for the embellishments of the park surrounding. . .
1803: The Post Chaise Companion, or Traveller's Directory through Ireland . . . (3rd edition) published in Dublin by J. and J.H. Fleming
This is a practical guide for the traveller; it concentrates on measuring distances along specified routes, with brief mentions of the larger houses passed - but it also includes some surprisingly detailed historical information.
From the "Direct Roads" section:
Dublin to Coleraine by Antrim . . .
One mile from Banbridge, on the R. is Greenfield, the seat of Mr Darley.
At Lurgan, on the R. is the magnificent seat, with ample demesnes, of the Rt. Hon. William Brownlow; and around are three walks at a distance from each other: the centre one is the principal, and extends two miles. It is well conducted for leading to the most agreeable parts of the grounds, and for commanding views of Lough-neagh and the distant country. There are several buildings, a temple, green-house &c. The most beautiful scene is from a bench on a gently swelling hill, which rises almost on every side from the water. The wood, the water, and the green slopes, here invite [sic; Arthur Young in Source 5, from which this passage is copied, wrote "unite"] to form a very pleasing landscape.
At Glanevy, on the L. opposite the church, is the seat of Mr Gorman.
Dublin to Gilford and Portadown . . .
At Gilford, on the R. is the seat of Sir Richard Johnston, Bart.
Within three miles of Portadown, on the L. is Moyallen, the seat of Joseph Phelps, Esq and about a mile from it on the R. is Carrick, the seat of Mr Blacker.
A quarter of a mile on the R. of Portadown, is the seat of Mr Obins; and half a mile further, Drumcree-church, near which is a handsome glebe-house.
To Lurgan, by Hall's-Mill . . .
Near Hall's mill on the R. is Lawrencetown, the seat of Thomas Dawson Lawrence, Esq and near Lawrencetown is Banford-green, an elegant new house, built by Robert Jaffray Nicholson Esq.
At Warringstown is the seat of Mr Magennis.
To Lurgan, by Gilford . . .
A new road has been opened from Gilford to Lurgan, which has reduced the distance one mile and a half, and it is now the road most generally frequented from Dublin to Lurgan, and to several parts of the county of Antrim.
Within a mile of Lurgan on the R. is Cornreany, the seat of Mr Seely.
Dublin to Antrim, by Moira . . .
Two miles from Banbridge on the L. is Rose-hall, the seat of Mr Kearns.
Near Donaghcloney are the seats of Mr Dempster and Mr Blizard.
Magheralin, is a small well planted and well watered village, seated on the river Lagan, where the bishop of Dromore has a demesne, and had once a see-house, but the residence of the bishop is now restored to Dromore, and Magheralin abandoned. The village is adorned with a handsome church. Part of the lands here, as well as those leading to the county of Antrim, abounds with a white flinty limestone, mixed with chalk, which renders the springs issuing from the higher grounds extremely soft, well tasted, and particularly noted for washing and whitening linen. This limestone is likely to prove an excellent manure for wheat and wheat grounds; and the grass and herbage growing on the places where it appears, is remarkably sweet. Marble pits have been opened in the neighbourhood; and near it are several manufactures and bleach-yards, there being scarce a farmer hereabouts but what carries on some branch of the linen business.
Near Magheralin is Grace-hall, the seat of Thomas Douglas, Esq.
At Moira, lying a little to the L. is Moira-castle, a most noble edifice, with fine demesnes, the seat of the Earl of Moira, but now let to William Sharman, Esq . . .
Dublin to Lurgan and Crumlin . . .
At Lurgan is the beautiful seat of William Brownlow, Esq.
Within a mile of Ballinderry, on the L. are the ruins of a church.
About half a mile to the L. of Ballinderry, are the ruins of the once noble castle of Portmore, seated in the midst of some fine plantations belonging to the Marquis of Hertford. . .
From the "Cross Roads" section:
From Lisburn to Charlemont . . .
. . . Near Moira, on the W. is the seat of John Bateman, Esq standing on an eminence, and having a beautiful prospect of wood, and the meanders of the river Lagan.
Magheralin is a small, well-planted and well-watered village, seated on the river Lagan, and adorned with a handsome church. St. Colman, or Mocholmoe, who died on the 30th of March, 669, founded a monastery here.
Lurgan is a pretty large town, and enjoys all the advantages of a most delightful situation; being in the midst of a fertile, populous and highly improved country, on a gentle eminence, commanding a beautiful prospect of Lough-neagh, from which it is distant about two miles. It is a fine flourishing town, and wears a great face of business; the inhabitants being extensively engaged in the linen manufacture.
At Lurgan, on the R. is the magnificent seat of William Brownlow, Esq.
Within a mile of Portadown, on the R. is the glebe-house of the vicar of Segoe, with the church adjoining; and on the R. of Portadown, is Castle-Obins, the seat of Michael Obins, Esq.
Portadown is pleasantly situated on the river Bann, over which it hath a good bridge. The canal from Newry falls into the Bann within a mile of this place. Portadown is noted for its extensive business in the linen manufacture.
A mile beyond Portadown, on the L. is the seat of Mr Workman.
Near Loughgall, on the L. is the seat of Mr Cope; and about a quarter of a mile beyond it is Drummilly, the seat of Archdall Cope, Esq . . .
From Lisburn to Keady . . .
. . . A mile from Portadown, on the L. is the seat of Mr Workman; and two miles further, is Bolton's-folly, that of Mr Black.
Within two miles of Richhill, on the R. is the seat of the Rev. Mr Bisset, near Kilmore-church.
At Richhill, on the R. is the seat of Mr Richardson; and two miles beyond, and a mile on the R. is Castle-dillon, the seat of Sir Capel Molyneux, Bart.
Within half a mile of Armagh, on the L. is the seat of Mr Cust.
Armagh is the see of the primate. St Patrick fixed his see there in 444. It had from time to time very ample privileges granted, in confirmation of the liberties of the church. The cathedral was often burnt, but as often rebuilt and enlarged, and particularly by Patrick Scanlain, about 1262. His successor Nicholas, son of Molissa, beside books, rich ecclesiastical vestments, and other things, bestowed on it an annual pension of twenty marks. He appropriated to his see the manor of Dromyskin. He died the 30th of May, 1303.
Half a mile beyond Armagh, on the L. is the magnificent palace, with ample demesnes, of the primate . . .
1815: The Traveller's New Guide through Ireland . . . published by John Cumming, Dublin
Cumming's guide-book is very relaxed in style, giving all kinds of information about the places passed - but unfortunately barely touches our area.
To Lurgan by Tanderagee - Tanderagee is a very considerable village, distant sixty-one miles and a quarter from Dublin Castle; the linen manufacture is vigorously carried on here, and the proximity of the Newry Canal materially contributes to its conveniences; the road from Clare village unites on the left.
Portadown is a considerable town, distant sixty-five miles and a quarter from Dublin Castle, agreeably situated on the western bank of the upper Bann. The road from Rich Hill unites on the left . . .
To Lurgan by Banbridge . . . Lurgan, distant sixty-seven miles and a half from Dublin Castle, is a large town principally composed of a long wide street, kept remarkably clean and neat. The linen manufacture is extensively carried on here. The church is spacious, and ornamented with a lofty spire. Contiguous to the town is the delightful residence of the Right Honourable William Brownlow, proprietor of the town. A road winds on the left, along the southern shore of Lough Neagh to Banfoot Ferry. All the roads from Down conterminate on the right.
This line of country is extremely well fortified by nature, and was selected by O'Neal, as a most formidable position in his obstinate rebellion against the English Government. The demarcations of the entrenchments are still called Tyrone's ditches.
It is only necessary to remark, that the linen manufacture universally flourishes in every corner of this district, and that every peasant is a weaver, and every female a spinner. The fruits of this industry are a comfortable competency, and civilised habits, rarely known in many other counties.
Lough Neagh is an immense sheet of water, which may be termed a fresh water sea . . . where the shores are flat, they are inundated by the overflowing of the lake, to a very considerable extent. This extraordinary elevation of water, is caused by the lake's being continually supplied by the accumulated streams of six considerable rivers, and four of inferior magnitude, besides numerous streamlets . . . and there being only one outlet to discharge the superabundant mass. This lake abounds with all kinds of fish . . . besides a particular species, called a Dolachan, is peculiar to this lake. . . Healing and petrifying qualities are attributed to its waters, or its soil, or its exhalations, or some other occult causes, and consequently very marvellous reports are industriously circulated . . . like a chancery suit, much time must elapse before the controversy can be decisively concluded.
1823: Ireland exhibited to England . . . by A Atkinson Esq, late of Dublin
Mr Atkinson was much more interested in armchair politics than in tourism or travel; he chose a very lengthy title which included an idealistic plan for "softening down the violent inequalities in [Ireland's] political and social system, the true source of her disorders" and for "uniting all classes of the people . . . for the improvement of the country . . . "
The section headed "Dundalk" includes fulsome descriptions of Loughbrickland and Tanderagee :
The Down side of Tanderagee is by far the most wealthy and picturesque. It is probable therefore that this village will sanction the liberty we take of enrolling her name . . . as a member of the Downshire family . . . Nevertheless, the Armagh district of Tandragee, like every part of this respectable country, presents to the eye of the stranger, the gratifying evidences of a warm, industrious, and of course, respectable population. On that side of the village we visited Harrybrook, the seat of Robert Harden Esq (a magistrate for the county of Armagh). It comprehends a plain modern edifice, and about 100 acres of his own land; being a small proportion of a valuable property, on which this gentleman resides . .
Portadown, a good market and post town in the county of Armagh, and near the boundary of Downshire, is pleasingly situated on the river Bann, and in point of trade, it is, or was, eminent in the corn and brewing departments; but, from the failure of the company, conducting this latter trade, a very extensive brewery was lying idle, when we visited that town in the winter of 1817.
A quay is said to be much wanting in this town, for the accommodation of the lighters engaged in the corn trade; in which improvement not only the merchants of this place are interested, but also the farmers for many miles around it, and therefore it should be executed by their joint subscription, as it is not an object of sufficient magnitude, to claim the notice of the legislature. It is thought that the moderate sum of £300 would complete this quay.
While travelling in the neighbourhood of this village, an example of liberality, deserving a public record in the history of the country, having been communicated to us by a person who was an eye and ear witness of the facts, we think it our duty to introduce it . . .
In the rebellion of 1798 . . . when the catholics and protestants of Armagh, under the innocent and sportive epithet of 'wrecking' , made war upon each other's property and habitations; a poor priest in the neighbourhood of Portadown, thrown into consternation by this unnatural warfare, came in the midst of his alarm to this town, and cast himself upon the protection of Mr Woolsey Atkinson (a respectable merchant) who with his excellent partner, now no more, received him immediately into their house, appropriated a room to his accommodation, and entertained him at their own table until the political madness of the day had subsided, and a restoration of the nation to its senses, rendered it safe for the poor priest to return to his peaceful habitation.
[Woolsey Atkinson was it seems a member of the Church of Scotland, and an Orangeman; the author, who sharing a surname may indeed have been a relation, comments approvingly: ]
You madmen - you murderers and bigots, whether popish or protestant, that can be rendered the instruments of a foul design, and so far duped by others, as to swallow down those prejudices, that prepare you for every act of aggression upon your fellow countrymen, behold this record, and blush for your brutality. You, who are the disgrace of humanity, and whose detestable spirit, renders the name of your religion obnoxious to our thoughts, behold this action of an Orangeman to his political enemy, and make the philanthropy of his mind and that of his once valued consort, the standard of your practice - so shall our country be respected, and the feeling of its inhabitants cease to be regarded as an exhalation from that hell, the nature and properties of which have been placed before our eyes in living colours, by your acts of insanity and murder. [Then he continues, without pausing to draw breath :]
Portadown opens a communication from Lurgan in Armagh, and Gilford in Down, to the county of Tyrone, by Verner's bridge. In the immediate neighbourhood of the town there are not many seats of magnitude; the most respectable we saw, was that of Carrick, the seat of Dean Blacker; but the country abounds with the habitations of substantial farmers and manufacturers, a class of society that contributes much more to its wealth and independence.
Carrick, the seat and part of the estate of the Rev. Dean Blacker, comprehends a plain but commodious dwelling house, originally built in 1692, and about 170 English acres of demesne, which by a judicious system of draining and an adequate quantity of lime, have been rendered productive. The aspect of that fine country . . . is not distinguished by any very lofty eminence; consquently the prospect from hence is neither very extensive nor richly diversified. The demesne is distinguished by some fine old timber, and the prospect towards Portadown, by some young plantations (of Mr Woolsey Atkinson, the gentleman just noticed, and a Mr Robinson) that season the town landscape with a pleasing spice of the picturesque.
1830: The Northern Tourist, or Stranger's Guide to the North & North-West of Ireland, by Philip Dixon Hardy, published in Dublin by William Curry Junr & Company.
This is a guide for the leisurely, educated and thoughtful tourist, concentrating on the major sights such as the Giant's Causeway. Declaring "Belfast is decidedly the handsomest town in Ireland", the author hastens there and avoids side stops. However, his suggested tour to Antrim and Shane's Castle does include some general comments on the area round Lough Neagh.
. . . The appearance presented by the ruins of Cranfield church is not at all interesting; they do not exceed twenty or thirty feet in length, and are not more than half that in breadth.
It would appear that great changes have taken place in the general appearance of the shores of the lake. Doctor Cupples says, that in the reign of James I and for many years after, they were covered with forests; and about fifty years ago 1400 acres, in the parishes of Glenavy and Crumlin, and extending along the shores, were occupied as a deer-park by Lord Conway. Here grew an oak, called, from its extraordinary dimensions, the royal oak, the trunk of which was forty-two feet in circumference - it was sold for £121 10s.
With regard to the petrifactions, pebbles, &c. for which, from time immemorial, Lough Neagh has been so much celebrated . . . the general opinion . . . now is, that a petrifying quality does exist, either in the waters of the lake, or the soil adjoining or underneath them. The latter supposition appears the more probable. . . Note: in 1796, a canoe composed of an entire block of oak, about twenty-five feet long, by four feet wide, was discovered immediately under the surface, on the shore of Lough Neagh, at Crumlin Water foot. This vessel was of a rude construction, the bottom not being formed into a keel, and must have existed from a remote period. It was decayed in many places, but no where exhibited the smallest appearance of petrifaction . . .
The wood petrified is generally called holly; but from the variety in the appearance of the grain, there must be several other kinds . . . These petrified pieces of wood, when properly shaped and smoothed, make very excellent whet-stones. So much are they celebrated, that the Dublin hawkers, when most clamorous in praise of their set-stones, unanimously confer on them the title of "Lough Neagh hones". . .
Lough Neagh was formerly as much celebrated for its power of healing sores . . . as for its petrifying qualities . . . These miraculous properties have long since ceased; and even the greatest lover of the marvellous no longer argues for their existence, from the virtues of supposed springs at the bottom of the Lough . . . Note: These springs can, indeed, be only some of those "airy nothings", which a credulous imagination loves to foster; for . . . the Lough has been completely frozen over three times in the memory of man. The last time, 1814, a singular spectacle was exhibited at Ram's Island: Colonel Heyland rode from the shore there, and Mr Whittle entertained the people with a drag-chase on the ice, by his own dogs, round the island . . .
Near Lough Neagh, and separated from it by a narrow neck of land, known by the name of the Deer Park, is a beautiful sheet of water, of an oval form, called Lough-beg, or the little lake. Note: In a sequestered spot on this lake, called Sally Island, tradition relates that the pious and learned Jeremiah Taylor, who was chaplain to Charles I and Bishop of Down and Connor, in the year 1661, frequently composed his admired works - probably, among others, his celebrated "Doctor Dubitantium", the preface of which is dated from his study, in Portmore, in Killultagh, on the banks of Loughbeg.
This body of water covers 625 acres of land; and is stored with pike, bream, trout, perch, roach and eels; and a variety of wild fowl frequent its neighbourhood. An ingenious attempt to drain it was made about the year 1749, by Arthur Dobbs Esq, then agent to Lord Conway: for this purpose, he erected a windmill at the place where the isthmus between the lakes is narrowest, which, acting upon buckets, threw the water into the other lake: in this way the lake was emptied; but the water returning again, as some allege, by a subterraneous communication with Lough Neagh, or else being renewed by springs, the scheme, after various experiments, was abandoned . . .
The scenery which here presents itself to view is of a most pleasing description. In front the broad and silvery waters of the lake - on the opposite coast the lofty mountains of Tir-owen and Derry shelving gently down, till level with the water; on the other side, the rich luxuriant vales of Feevah, with its deeply indented shores and bays, present a cheering prospect to the eye; while downwards, the handsome metal-railed bridge of Toome, and the spire towering in the midst of Church Island, around whose rugged sides rush the foaming waters of Lough Beg, form altogether a scene of the most interesting character.
The tourist may now return to Belfast . . . [from pages 226 - 234]
The author also includes some general comments on the local populace. He quotes from a description of "the lower orders residing in the neighbourhood of Lisburn, Hillsborough, Dromore and Ballinahinch", written in 1816 by the Rev. John Dubourdieu, Rector of Annahilt, for which perhaps we may stretch the boundaries of the Craigavon area:
"They are a decent, industrious, well-disposed, and orderly people. They seldom drink anything, except at weddings and christenings, but milk. At fairs and markets, they regale themselves with beer and whiskey; but, though often elated on their return, excessive intoxication is not common. The basis of their food is potatoes and oatmeal; their drink, buttermilk and skimmed milk. Most of the farmers have salted pork, and many salted beef, for their winter's store; and some occasionally purchase fresh meat at the neighbouring towns. Tea is in general use.
"The language is now the English, with a strong Scotch accent - in the middle of the last century it was broad Scotch. Whatever customs peculiar to the Lowlands of Scotland might have been imported, are now nearly laid aside or forgotten. One custom, however, generally prevails - the giving a merry convoy-home to the bride and bridegroom after marriage; and the struggle is often great between the friends of the former and of the latter, who shall arrive first at the bridegroom's house. Marriages, in general, take place at an early period of life, so that parents frequently survive to see their offspring settled around them, and who, to accomplish that object, often divide small into smaller farms. Within the last thirty years, the progress of improvements of all kinds among the lower orders has been most striking. The greater proportion of the inhabitants are Protestant Dissenters."
The author then adds some comments of his own:
The marked difference between the peasantry of the province of Ulster and that of the other provinces of Ireland, will not fail to arrest the attention of even the least discerning. Of the former it may be sufficient to observe generally, that they are a fine, intelligent, independent people, shrewd in their observations, and courteous, without any thing of servility, in their manners. The men are in general tall, and square-shouldered, retaining in their high cheek-bones much of the characteristic countenance of their Scottish ancestors - most of the women well-looking . . .
Here we may, in passing, notice a circumstance, tending in a great measure to account for the evident prosperity of Belfast, in comparison to that of the metropolis [i.e. Dublin] - while the peasantry surrounding the former are one of its greatest sources of wealth, those in the neighbourhood of the latter are a continual drain upon the city; - this difference arises from the fact, that the specie [money] which the farmer obtains for the provisions he brings into Dublin, is generally absorbed by an absentee landlord, without any portion of it being left to contribute to the comfort of the tenant, and at the same time to the prosperity of the district in which he resides; while a great proportion of the produce of the land in the neighbourhood of Belfast is laid out in the town for various articles of dress, and other necessaries, by which the town is enriched, and the tiller of the land and those about him rendered comfortable and happy. And until something similar to this is apparent in every part of our island, it will be vain to look for permanent tranquillity or content among its peasantry, no matter how good the laws are which may be enacted, or how rigidly they may be enforced. [from pages 98 - 102]
1841: Ireland, its Scenery, Character, &c, by Mr & Mrs S. C. Hall, in three volumes, published in London by Virtue and Co. (using the new edition of 1842)
"Hall's Ireland" is well-known as a mine of factual information, history and legend, written in an engaging first-person travel style and lavishly illustrated with engravings. As Mr Gamble commented, it gives a good over-view of Ireland just before the Famine. The relatively short section devoted to County Armagh is mostly devoted to details of Armagh itself and its buildings, thus falling strictly outside our limits; but there are some general comments on the county, and there is a reference to Portadown in - surprisingly - the section on County Kilkenny. There is also a detailed account of the beginnings of the Orange Order in County Armagh fifty years earlier (with, alas, no references for the sources that the Halls used).
Few of the Irish counties fill so prominent a page in ancient Irish history as the county of Armagh. It is surpassed by many in picturesque beauty, but by none in the sturdy, independent character of its peasantry. Along the high roads, and also among the bye-ways, very little of poverty is encountered: the cottages are, for the most part, neat, cleanly and comfortable; few of them are without orchards added to the ordinary "garden", and the continual click-cluck of the shuttle betokens the industry that is securing humble luxuries within. Almost every dwelling is a linen factory; and the whole of its inmates, from the very aged to the very young, are made, in some degree, useful. Therefore, although the "earnings" of each are small, the combined gatherings amount to a sum not alone sufficient to supply wants, but to obtain the advantages which make life something more than a mere state of existence between the birth and the grave. We had been but a very few hours in Armagh county before we perceived abundant signs that we were in "the North"; and very soon ascertained that the statements we had heard of its exceeding prosperity, as compared with the southern districts of Ireland, were by no means exaggerated . . .
We might occupy a large portion of our work . . . by details of interesting objects in the county of Armagh; either with regard to the happy position of its inhabitants generally; the beauties of its scenery - parts of the banks of the Ban river being exceedingly rich in the picturesque; its ancient remains; its modern improvements, in reference alike to mansions, cottages, farms, and estates; and, above all, the efforts of its landlords to promote the welfare, augment the comforts, and better the condition of its people. We are reminded, however, of the necessity of compression; and are compelled to postpone our remarks upon a subject of especial interest - the magnificent Lough Neagh, which borders the northern division of the county, although it belongs more properly to the county of Antrim.
In driving to this noble lake from our head-quarters, in the neighbourhood of Portadown, we passed through a singular district called "the Munches". Let the reader imagine a tract of bog, stretching far and away: the only change of soil is from bad bog to good bog, from turf so black and hard, that its very sight gladdens the housewife's heart, to poor pale-brown crumbling stuff, which the poor burn because they can afford no better. Numerous are the squatters, notwithstanding, who have cultivated patches of this arid common into productive land.
At the termination of this outspread bog, we came in sight of Lough Neagh; and soon standing upon its banks, we saw, as it were, a sea encompassed by land . . .
Our visits to the towns of Armagh afforded us much enjoyment. Portadown, Lurgan, and Tandragee have each a "thriving look"; their large markets suggested the notion of abundance; and the warehouses for the sale of linen bore testimony to the industry that produces wealth. From a hill that rises just above Tanderagee, there is a most glorious and exciting prospect of the surrounding country - seen thence, for very many miles, in every direction; and looking into several of the adjacent counties, the view, in reference either to its picturesque or moral character, is cheering in the extreme, - cultivated mountains, fertile valleys, gentlemen's domains richly planted, cottages not huddled unhealthily together, but spread over the land; each of which might be copied as a picture of rural grace and domestic comfort.
Note: The principal proprietor of Tandragee is Lord Mandeville; who with his neighbours, Lords Farnham and Roden, Colonel Blacker and the Marquis of Downshire, have contributed largely to the present cheering condition of the county of Armagh. Lord Mandeville has established no fewer than sixteen district schools on his estate in this neighbourhood - for the support of which he devotes £1000 per annum, out of an income by no means large. In the schools there are 22 teachers, and the average daily attendance of children is 2000. They are maintained independently of aid from any society . . .
The Loan Society of Portadown [from the County Kilkenny section]
The "Loan Societies" of Ireland claimed our earliest attention . . . The advantage to the poorer classes of small loans of money to purchase implements of trade, early attracted the attention of the Irish Parliament . . .
The history and formation of a properly conducted loan fund is this [under the provisions of the then current Acts of Parliament]. The resident gentry of some locality, in which no loan society exists, perceive that such an institution is required, or would benefit the people in the district. A meeting is called, and as many as are inclined to become depositors state their intention of taking debentures from the new society, for which they receive interest, in some places five and in others six per cent. One party is voted treasurer, another honorary secretary, and three or four others trustees. Rules for the government of the society are then drawn up, and it is imperative that each set of rules shall contain a provision that no manager or trustee shall directly or indirectly derive any profit from it. Another rule must ascertain the limit to which the managers shall be at liberty to go in expenses of management; and a third, that the treasurer shall become bound with solvent sureties in a reasonable amount for the faithful performance of his duties. These rules are then transmitted to the Secretary in Dublin Castle, for the approval of the Board . . .
The society is then in legal existence, and commences operations. A person is appointed clerk, and to him the intending borrowers apply for application forms, for each of which a penny or a halfpenny is generally charged. This being filled up and returned by the applicant, his solvency and general character, with that of his sureties, is considered, by one or two of the trustees in council met for the purpose, and if approved, the full loan applied for, or such portion of it as they may think proper to grant, is paid to the borrower, stopping, at the time the loan is issued, sixpence in the pound by way of interest. The borrower then receives a card on which the amount lent to him is entered, and the instalments he pays are marked off. A duplicate of this, or a proper account of the transaction, is of course booked by the society. The borrower, and his sureties for him, bind themselves to repay the amount of the loan in twenty weeks, by instalments of one shilling in the pound per week. Thus, if a borrower applies for a loan of £5, which is approved, the society hands him £4 17s. 6d., retaining two shillings and sixpence as interest. He then pays five shillings for twenty weeks, and the £5 is paid off. Should the borrower run into default, he subjects himself in most societies to a fine of one penny for the first week, and threepence for the second and every succeeding week on each pound lent him; and should he remain two weeks in default, his sureties receive notice that they will be sued for the amount . . .But in the very great majority of cases no such steps are necessary, the poor borrowers being generally very punctual in their repayments . . .
From the very minute inquiries we have instituted, [we] have no hesitation in arriving at the conclusion, that the loan funds in Ireland may be made mighty engines either for good or evil, according as they may be worked and superintended. When properly managed, they cannot fail to exercise a vast influence on the moral and social condition of the people; where conducted carelessly, or by parties endeavouring to force business for their own gain, they may be indeed a moral pestilence, blighting the energies of the surrounding poplation, and fostering habits of improvidence or dishonesty.
We cannot lay too much stress on the many practical proofs furnished by these loan societies of the honesty of the Irish peasant . . .
Note: We copy from the report of the Portadown society, "the number and object for which loans were granted in 1840":
£ s d
|160||Horses||£650 0 0|
|1,750||Cows, Pigs, Goats||£7,000 0 0|
|137||Corn, Hay, or Seeds||£550 0 0|
|21||Farm Implements||£85 0 0|
|43||Looms||£175 0 0|
|425||Yarn||£1,700 0 0|
|15||Iron||£50 0 0|
|60||Leather||£262 0 0|
|550||Dealing||£650 0 0|
|85||Fishing Tackle||£8 0 0|
|175||Rent||£700 0 0|
|97||Debts||£388 0 0|
|601||Provisions||£2,525 0 0|
|3,687||Total no.||Total amount
£14,918 0 0
History of the Orange Order [from section on County Armagh]
There is, in the county of Armagh, another small and insignificant spot, which bears a name in history: "the Battle of the Diamond" is almost as famous in the North, as "the Battle of the Boyne". We travelled some three or four miles out of our route from Portadown to Armagh to visit the place - a cluster of hovels dignified with the rank of villages, and called "the Diamond", - a term frequently used in the northern counties, to indicate an assemblage of buildings which, taken together, are diamond-shaped . . . the few cabins to which we immediately refer, though changed in form by time, from that of a diamond to that of a triangle, retains [sic] the name which it originally bore. It was never more than a mere collection of cottages; built in a small valley, or rather a ravine, upon both sides of which steep hills look down. A stream of some depth must have been, at one period, running in the vicinity, for in the contest of 1795, several persons were drowned there; it has, however, disappeared.
There, in 1795, originated the "Orange Societies", which, for nearly half a century - while they existed - occupied no small share of the world's attention; for in their after influence upon the destinies of Ireland, they were made to play very prominent parts . . .
Towards the close of the last century, when the French Republic was arranging a descent upon the Irish coast, anticipating a general rising of the Irish population against the British government , and so contemplating the union of Ireland with France, the Roman Catholics of Ulster were associated under the title of "Defenders"; their avowed object was to terminate the connection between England and Ireland . . . according to the authority of Wolfe Tone, a conspicuous leader of the disaffected Irish, in French pay - the oath of the Defenders was, "that they will be faithful to the United Nations of France and Ireland" . . . So much is necessary to show, that the parties who combined for the opposite purpose - to continue and maintain connection with England - were acting upon the defensive when they took up arms, and formed themselves into societies which afterwards became known as "Orange Societies"; the adversaries of the "Defenders" having previously been distinguished as "Peep-o'-day boys".
It is difficult now to say with certainty, how these two great parties were first created. At that period the penal laws against Roman Catholics prohibited them from keeping arms, and to obtain them they were driven to the practice (still too common in disturbed districts in Ireland) of taking them forcibly at night. There were then no organised police, and the law was very inefficiently administered. The Protestants, therefore, became greatly alarmed, - not without reason, as the events of the few following years proved; and in order to discover and prevent the robbery of arms, roamed about the country in small armed bodies. From the hours at which these patrols were made, they derived the name of "Peep-o'-day boys". To oppose the system, the Roman Catholics found it necessary to organize their attacks, and assumed the name of "Defenders". This account, though probable enough, is however far from certain, and some suppose that the two parties originated merely in some private feud, which, after a time, was converted by political agents into a religious war.
Their quarrels were conducted with the bitterest animosity, and gave rise to much blood-shed. The Peep-o'-day boys had no regular system of union, while their adversaries formed a perfectly organized combination, with signs and pass-words. The latter, therefore, in a short time became a most powerful body - not confined to the north, but extending over a large portion of the kingdom. Outrage and bloodshed - amounting sometimes to barbarous massacres - became so common, especially in the northern counties, as to awaken the serious alarm of the Irish Parliament. A select committee of the Lords was appointed in 1793, who made a very strong report upon the subject. To confute the opinion that the violence of the Defenders had the countenance of the heads of the Roman Catholic Church, a pastoral admonition was immediately afterwards circulated by Dr. Troy, the Roman Catholic Archbishop, and the then great advocate of the Roman Catholic claims.
Several skirmishes having occurred in the county of Armagh between the opposing parties, and some lives having been lost, a truce was agreed upon, and a meeting took place at the house of a man named Winter, in the village of the Diamond, by which a Roman Catholic clergyman on the one part, and a Protestant gentleman on the other, bound themselves, for their respective parties, that peace between both should be strictly preserved for a period named. The Protestant gentleman was fired at on his way home, after having affixed his name to the treaty, and his party was, on the next day, attacked by above seven hundred of the Defenders; but it is asserted that these "Defenders" were at the time ignorant of the fact that an armistice had been agreed upon.
Thus exasperated, both parties prepared for a resort to arms - both assembled in large numbers - the one upon the one hill that overlooked the Diamond, and the other upon the hill opposite; each having laid in a large store of provisions and ammunition, and each being amply provided with weapons. The battle took place on the 21st of September, 1795; and happily, before very much mischief was done, although several lives were sacrificed, the parties were separated by the timely arrival of the military.
Out of this affray - preceded as it was by many other unhappy quarrels, and a terrible state of insubordination in the county of Armagh - arose the "Orange Institutions". For the Protestants of that county, and ultimately of all Ireland, formed themselves into lodges, to which they gave a name which, ever since, has been dearly cherished by the one party, and utterly execrated by the other, until, within a comparatively recent period, the direct interference of the Crown terminated their existence.
According to some reports, the first lodge was formed on the field where the battle of the Diamond was fought - among the men who had been actually engaged in it. According to other accounts, a considerable portion of the routed Defenders escaping into the county of Tyrone, renewed the system of aggression there, and it was more immediately for the purpose of resisting this body that the first lodge was formed; a village called Dian, on Lord Caledon's estate, in the county of Tyrone, claiming "the honour" of being the first place of meeting. This latter is believed to be the more correct account. The lodge consisted merely of yeomen and a few respectable farmers of the middling rank of life - little imagining that it was to be the germ of so numerous and mighty a body as the "Orange Institution" afterwards became.
The Association of United Irishmen had been formed three or four months previously - in May, 1795. It is, however, very unlikely that the framers of the first Orange Societies had originally any view of counteracting the operations of this body, although in after years they became so efficient for that purpose. The circumstances of the formation of the early lodges, and the rank in life of their founders, render it highly improbable that they would, or indeed could, form a design so comprehensive.
The Institution was found so effective, that it was soon encouraged by the gentry of the neighbourhood. In a short time several lodges were formed, with a regular system of rules for their guidance. They consisted chiefly of persons in the humble ranks of life; the rules and ceremonies adopted were such as were likely to strike the minds of such men, and were full of mysteries. As none but Protestants were admitted, and most of these were Presbyterians, the Institution partook considerably of the religious character of that sect. United in a cause which they believed to be a holy one, they always commenced and concluded their meetings with prayer, a custom which continued to be universally observed ever afterwards, though their other rules were of course modified and altered when the management of the Institution came into the hands of more enlightened men.
Among the nobility and gentry of the North who were the first to join actively in furthering the interests of the new Institution, were Lords Hertford, Abercorn, Northland, and Londonderry - and the influential families of the Verners, Blackers, Richardsons, and Brownlows. The Institution spread rapidly through the whole of the North of Ireland, and there is at least this fact in favour of its utility at that time, that the North, from being the most disturbed, became, and has ever since continued, the most peaceable and thriving portion of Ireland; and during the subsequent outbreak in 1798, was the only part apparently uninjured by that frightful convulsion.
In little more than two years the Institution extended itself to the capital. The first lodge formed in Dublin was founded early in the year 1798. In after times it became, as is well known, one of the most influential and numerous associations that ever existed, extending throughout England and Scotland, and even into the colonies . . . Although the English Orangemen were governed by similar rules, and had the same Grand Master (the Duke of Cumberland), and the same system of signs and pass-words, there seems to have been very little unity of action between them and the Orangemen of Ireland, except, perhaps, immediately after their first institution.
The system of secret signs and pass-words in order to recognise each other whenever they might meet, and the strict privacy of their meetings, were natural schemes considering the circumstances of their first institution. It has, however, been much regretted by more enlightened Orangemen, that so much mysticism was ever adopted. It gave rise and probability to all the stories circulated by their enemies, and rendered them, as individuals, far less able to confute them. Without examining particularly the merits or demerits of the Institution, or pronouncing to which most weight is due - the boasts of Orangemen as to their loyalty, liberality, and high character; or the charges of their enemies as to their bigotry, cruelty, and intolerance - it must be admitted that nothing could be more charitable, or breathe a purer or more peaceful spirit, than their recognised book of rules and regulations. It is also but fair to add, that the society stood the test of two most scrutinising Parliamentary Committees - one of the Lords, in the year 1825, and the other of the Commons, 1836, without the slightest imputation being cast upon it which has any weight with rational men.
The Orange Institution was dissolved in the year 1836. After the proceedings before a committee of the House of Commons, in consequence of the declared wish of the Crown, and before any Act of Parliament was passed which could interfere with their proceedings, a meeting of the Grand Lodge was summoned on the 13th April in that year. After much debate, the question of dissolution was carried by a majority of 92 to 62. It was questioned by some of the lodges whether the deputed authority of the Grand Lodge authorised this resolution. It was, however, in the end generally acquiesced in by them all, or, at least, with very few exceptions; and a society of almost unprecedented magnitude, comprising a very large proportion of the most wealthy and influential noblemen and gentlemen in the kingdom, and numbering, we understand, above 250,000 members, voluntarily separated.
We have thus endeavoured to condense as much as possible the information we have gathered concerning the origin and history of the "Orange Institution" . . .
It is scarcely necessary for us to observe, that this "Orange Institution" has been pictured to us by all parties. It has been essentially our duty - and a duty we have at all times, under all circumstances, and in all places, laboured conscientiously to discharge - to obtain information from the adversaries as well as the supporters of any system, subject, or measure; and to endeavour to form our own conclusions as to the nature of the evidence received, - which, in Ireland, is singularly conflicting and contradictory upon nearly every topic concerning which inquiry can be made . . .
We need not say that in Ireland the name of an "Orangeman" is almost inconceivably odious to a very vast proportion of the people. No doubt much of this is attributable to the fact, that they maintained Protestant ascendancy when England, of herself, could not have maintained it, and so balked and disappointed the enemies of England and Protestantism: but that much of it must be traced to the cruelties, oppressions, and utter recklessness of just dealing, exercised by some Orangemen towards their Roman Catholic brethren, is, at least, equally certain. We have shown that, in principle, the Orange Institution cannot be described as even uncharitable; but in practice it was often otherwise. Although among its leading members were some of the most enlightened, most upright, and most humane gentlemen in Great Britain, it contained some who were alike ignorant of their duty towards their God and their neighbour, and who had reasoned themselves into a notion, that, in persecuting a Roman Catholic, they were doing both service. Their conduct, undoubtedly, gave a show of justice to charges advanced against the body.
We hold it as incontrovertible, that the use of any particular emblem, sign, or token, calculated to promote a breach of the peace and to stir up evil passions, is an act of which the law should take cognisance; and that, therefore, rightly, the law was, at length, called into operation to prevent the continuance of that which had become an evil. But it is only justice to state - and it is difficult to conceive how any unprejudiced reader of history can arrive at an opposite conclusion - that if the retention of Ireland was an advantage to England, England is certainly indebted to the "Orange Societies" for having retained Ireland as part and parcel of the dominions of Great Britain; for assuredly, if there had been no Union of Irish Protestants, acting together and in concert, between the years 1793 and 1800, Ireland would have become, for a time at least, a Province of France.
1844 : A Hand Book for Travellers in Ireland, descriptive of its scenery, towns, seats, antiquities, etc . . . by James Fraser, Landscape Gardener and Designer of Rural Improvements, published in Dublin by William Curry Jun. and Company
The last of our sources is also the first one to mention railways - a fitting point at which to stop, as Mr Gamble observed (although he did wonder whether the Halls in Source 12 had actually used the railway to get to Portadown, their head-quarters in County Armagh). However, the assumption here is still that the traveller will be on horse-back or in a coach, making his leisurely way along the road; but note the reference to the decline of the once flourishing individual linen manufacture which earlier authors described. The routes are now carefully numbered, and the comments include a mass of factual detail.
Route No. 191 - Dublin to Portadown - 84 miles by Loughbrickland.
The village of Gilford is pleasantly situated on the banks of the Bann; and in its linen, flax-spinning, and bleaching trade, may be considered as a branch of Banbridge, from which it is only four miles distant. Adjoining the village is Gilford Castle, the residence of Sir Wm. Johnston, Bart. Above and below the village the banks of the Bann are highly adorned with handsome villas and bleach-greens; and factories are seen in various directions . . . we proceed to Portadown.
Two miles and a quarter below Gilford we enter the county of Armagh, pass Carrick, the seat of Colonel Blacker, and Brackagh and Ballyworken on the opposite side of the Bann, near where the Newry canal joins that river.
Portadown is situated on the upper Bann, which falls into Lough Neagh about seven miles and a half below the town, and communicates with the Newry canal about a mile and a quarter above it. The Bann is here navigable for vessels of sixty tons burden. This town, as well as Tanderagee, belongs to the Duke of Manchester, and has of late years been much improved. The principal trade carried on is at the weekly markets, where a great deal of corn and other agricultural produce is bought, and forwarded by canal to Newry - the returning barges bringing timber, slates, coals, iron &c., for inland consumption. A good many hands are employed in and around the town in manufacturing linen and cotton goods, which are sent to Banbridge and Belfast. It contains a church and Presbyterian meeting house, and at the inn post-horses and conveyances can be hired.
This town is a considerable thoroughfare, being on the main line between Belfast and Armagh, and the present terminus of the Belfast and Armagh railroad. By the railroad it is twenty-five miles distant from Belfast, and one of the Dublin coaches [i.e. horse-drawn] now runs to Portadown in connexion with the trains. A steamer also crosses Lough Neagh from Ballyronan daily, bringing goods and passengers from various parts of the counties of Antrim and Londonderry to the steam carriages and Dublin coaches. The new bridge across the Bann adds much to the improvement of the town and neighbourhood. There are several villas adjoining. The country around is generally flat; towards Lough Neagh it is low, bleak, and boggy - a great extent of flat peat moss lying along the dreary southern shores of Lough Neagh.
Route No. 193 - Dublin to Coleraine. Second road - 147 miles.
By Banbridge, Lurgan, Antrim and Ballymoney. . . From Banbridge we proceed along the right bank of the upper Bann . . . and, passing through a beautiful and highly-cultivated country, adorned with numerous villas, bleach-greens, and factories, we reach the small town and demesne of Waringstown, the latter the seat of the Rev. H. Waring, proprietor of the town, and whose ancestor, in the reign of Queen Anne, was instrumental in founding the manufacturing prosperity of this district. Till of late years linen weaving, in common with the whole of this part of the country, was carried on in almost every house in the town and neighbourhood.
A mile beyond Waringstown we enter the county of Armagh, and at two and a half miles reach Lurgan, situated in a flat tract of country at the northern end of the county of Armagh, and two miles from the southern extremity of Lough Neagh; it is one of the neatest, cleanest, and most improved of our smaller inland towns. Here the linen manufacture in its various branches was, till within these few years, carried on extensively, every family being more or less engaged in it; and here still every encouragement is given to trade and agricultural improvement by the proprietor, Lord Lurgan, whose handsome residence, Lurgan House, adjoins and adorns the town. The mansion is one of the finest of our Elizabethan structures, built of Scotch freestone, from designs by Playfair of Edinburgh; and in the demesne much has been done to beautify the flat surface. Lurgan is a great thoroughfare, various conveyances running from it to Belfast, and the coaches from Belfast to Armagh passing through it. It contains a church, meeting-houses for Presbyterians and Quakers, a sessions-house, union workhouse, and a comfortable inn where post-horses and conveyances can be obtained.
The village of Magheralin and the small town of Moira are on the road to Lisburn. . .
Towards Lough Neagh, and a little below Lurgan, is Annesborough, and near it Silverwood; and at three miles from Lurgan, on the shores of Lough Neagh, opposite to the little island of Rathlin, is Rockland; and Bannfoot ferry, where the upper Bann falls into the lough, is about eight miles north-west from the town.
The district of country through which our road lies from Lurgan to Antrim is bounded on the west by Lough Neagh, and on the east by the chain of hills which spring from the vicinity of Moira and dip into the sea at the mouth of Belfast Lough, and of which Divis, 1,567 feet, and Cave Hill, 1,185, are the highest summits.
Two and a half miles from Lurgan we leave the county of Armagh, run through a point of Down, and enter the county of Antrim . . . at five miles we cross the Lagan navigation, which joins Lough Neagh three miles to the left, pass through the straggling hamlet of Aghalee, and at six miles and a half reach the village of Ballinderry. To the left of this vilage, near the flat shores of Lough Neagh, is Portmore Lough, or Lough Beg, a circular sheet of water a mile in diameter, and close to it the prostrate ruins of Portmore Castle, erected by Lord Conway in 1664, which afforded an asylum to Dr Jeremy Taylor during the protectorate. Portmore now forms part of the extensive estates of the Marquis of Hertford. Adjoining Portmore lough are Portmore House and Brook Lodge . . .