Extracts pertaining to local and historical information are taken from a Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis published in 1837.
AHOGHILL, a parish, partly in the barony of LOWER ANTRIM, partly in that of KILCONWAY, partly in that of UPPER TOOME, but chiefly in the barony of LOWER TOOME, county of ANTRIM, and province of ULSTER, 4 miles (E. S. E.) from Portglenone; containing 14,920 inhabitants, of which number, 421 are in the village.
The district around this place appears, from the numerous remains of forts and the great number of tumuli and human bones found, to have been the scene of much early warfare. During the war of 1688, the ford of the river Bann at Portglenone was regarded as a very important pass between the counties of Antrim and Derry; and Sir I. Magill and Capt. Edmonston were, in 1689, despatched to defend it against the Irish army on their march towards the Bann, in order to enter the county of Derry. In 1760, when the French under Thurot made a descent on Carrickfergus, the inhabitants of this place rose in a body for the defence of the country: a well-appointed force marched to Belfast, numerous parties proceeded to Carrickfergus, while others patroled the country nightly, and these irregular levies had a powerful effect in repelling the invaders. About the year 1771) an organised system of outrage pervaded the whole of this parish, in common with other parts of the county: the persons who thus combined, called themselves "Steel Men," or "Hearts of Steel," and executed their revenge by houghing cattle and perpetrating other outrages; they attacked the house of Paul McLarnon, Esq., who, in defending himself, was shot. In 1778, a corps was raised by John Dickey, Esq., of Cullybackey, and called the Cullybackey Volunteers; a similar corps was embodied the following year by T. Hill, Esq., of Drumra, called the Portglenone Volunteers, to which was afterwards added a second corps by -- Simpson, Esq.; and a corps, called the Ahoghill Volunteers, was raised by Alexander McManus, of Mount Davies.
The parish, anciently called Maghrahoghill, of which the derivation is unknown, is bounded by the river Bann, which flows out of Lough Neagh in a direction from south to north, and is intersected by the river Maine, which flows into that lough in a direction from north to south. It was formerly more extensive than at present, having included Portglenone, which, in 1825, was, together with 21 townlands, severed from it and formed into a distinct parish. According to the Ordnance survey, including Portglenone, it comprises 85,419 statute acres, of which 14,954 are applotted under the tithe act, and 145 3/4 are covered with water. The system of agriculture is in a very indifferent state; there is a considerable quantity of waste land, with some extensive bogs, which might be drained. The surface is hilly, and many of the eminences being planted, render the valley through which the Maine flows beautiful and interesting.
The village is neatly built, and the neighbourhood, is enlivened with several gentlemen's seats. The castle of Galgorm, a seat of the Earl of Mountcashel, is a handsome square embattled edifice, erected in the 17th century by the celebrated Dr. Colville; the rooms are wainscoted with Irish oak from the woods of Largy and Grange. The other principal seats in the parish and neighbourhood are Mount Davies, the residence of Alex. McManus, Esq.; Low Park, of J. Dickey, Esq.; Ballybollan, the property of Ambrose O'Rourke, Esq.; Lisnafillen, of W. Gihon, Esq., of Ballymena; Fenaghy, the residence of S. Cuningham, Esq.; Leighnmore, the property of J. Dickey, Esq.; and Drumona, built by Alex. Brown, Esq. The linen trade appears to have been introduced here by the ancestor of John Dickey, Esq., of Low Park, and now in its several branches affords employment to the greater number of the inhabitants.
There are several bleach-greens on the river Maine: and a good monthly market is held in the village, for the sale of linens, on the Friday before Ballymony market. Fairs for cattle and pigs are held on June 4th, Aug. 26th, Oct. 12th, and Dec. 5th. The manorial court of Fortescue, anciently Straboy, has jurisdiction extending to debts not exceeding £5 late currency; and the manorial court of Cashel is held monthly at Portglenone, for the recovery of debts to the same amount. Two courts leet are held annually; and petty sessions are held every alternate Friday. The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Connor, and in the patronage of the Crown: the tithes amount to £1015. 7. 8.
The church is an ancient edifice; the walls have within the last few years been raised and covered with a new roof. The glebe-house was built by a gift of £100 and a loan of £1500 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1815; the glebe comprises 138 1/2 acres. In the R. C. divisions this is the head of a union or district, comprising also Portglenone, and containing three chapels, one about half a mile from the village, another at Aughnahoy, and a third at Portglenone. There are places of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster at Ahoghill and Cullybackey, both of the third class: in the former are also two places of worship for Seceders of the Ahoghill Presbytery, each of the second class, and in the latter is one for Covenanters; there is also a place of worship for Independents, and a Moravian meeting-house at Gracehill. There are 15 schools in different parts of the parish, in which are about 400 boys and 330 girls; and there are also 12 private schools, in which are about 300 boys and 150 girls; and 16 Sunday schools. John Guy, in 1813, bequeathed £12 per ann. to the Moravian establishment, which sum is now, by the death of his adopted heir, augmented to £45 per annum. There are some remains of Rory Oge Mac Quillan's castle of Straboy, and some tumuli at Moyessit.