Place:Ballywillin, County Antrim, Northern Ireland


Alt namesMilltown
Coordinates55.21727°N 6.63712°W
Located inCounty Antrim, Northern Ireland
Contained Places
source: Family History Library Catalog

Historical description

Extracts pertaining to local and historical information are taken from a Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis published in 1837.

BALLYWILLIN, or MILLTOWN, a parish, partly in the barony of LOWER DUNLUCE, county of ANTRIM, but chiefly in the North-East liberties of COLERAINE, county of LONDONDERRY, and province of ULSTER, 3 1/2 miles (N. by E.) from Coleraine, on the road to Portrush; containing 2219 inhabitants. This parish is bounded on the north by the Atlantic ocean, and comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 4673 1/4statute acres, of which 1617 are in the county of Antrim: about 300 are sand and 150 bog; the remainder is arable and pasture. The entire district abounds with fossils and minerals of great variety, and with features of high geological interest. The soil, though various, is generally good; and the lands are in an excellent state of cultivation, particularly where not exposed to the drifting of the sand, which accumulates on the coast near Portrush. There is no waste land, except the sand hills near Portrush, which, from the constant blowing of the north and north-west winds, have overspread a large tract of excellent land, which it has been found impossible to reclaim. Much of the bog has been exhausted and brought under cultivation, and there is now barely sufficient for the supply of fuel. There are vast quantities of ironstone; in some places the ore is found nearly in a metallic state, and in nodules of stone used for making the roads have been found nuclei of almost pure metal. Limestone is very abundant, but is not worked; the extensive quarries in the adjoining parish of Dunluce being held under a lease which prohibits the opening of any other upon the estate. Basalt in every variety is found here in a confused mixture of amorphous basalt with veins of red ochre, chert, soap-stone, and zeolite. In other parts there are magnificent columnar masses, the prisms of which are more perfect and more beautiful than those of the Causeway. These columns form part of a bold ridge of hills lying north and south, and displaying some of the finest features of basaltic formation in the island. Beardiville, the seat of Sir F. Macnaghten, Bart., a spacious and handsome mansion, is pleasantly situated and surrounded with extensive and thriving plantations; and at Portrush are several elegant lodges and pleasing villas, which are occupied by their respective proprietors during the bathing season, and one of which belongs to the Bishop of Derry. The Skerries, a cluster of islands about a mile from the shore, and containing, according to the Ordnance survey, 24a. 1r. 9p., belong to this parish. Behind the middle of the largest of them a vessel may ride well sheltered in from 5 to 7 fathoms of water, and on good holding ground.

The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Connor, and in the patronage of the Bishop: it was formerly an appendage to the chancellorship of that see, under a grant by Jas. I., at which time a vicarage was instituted; but it again became a rectory under the provisions of Dr. Mant's act, on the death of Dr. Trail in 1831. The titties amount to £263. The church is an ancient, spacious, and handsome edifice, in the early English style, and is said to be the only one in the diocese or county, built prior to the Reformation, in which divine service is now performed; it has neither tower nor spire, but being situated on an eminence it is visible at the distance of several leagues at sea. There is a glebe-house, for the erection of which the late Board of First Fruits, in 1828, gave £450 and lent £140. In the R. C. divisions this parish forms part of the union or district of Coleraine. There is a place of worship at Magherabuoy for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster, and of the second class, and at Portrush is one for Wesleyan Methodists. The male and female school at Portrush is aided by an annual donation from Miss Rice; the school-house was erected in 1832 by Dr. Adam Clarke. A male and female school is aided by an annual donation from Mr. Lyle. In these schools are about 80 boys and 60 girls; and there are also a pay school, in which are about 40 boys and 10 girls, and a Sunday school. Here are the remains of Ballyreagh, or "the Royal Castle," situated on a promontory having a bold facade of rock rising to the height of 296 feet, the base of which is washed by the Atlantic. Dunmull, originally a druidical circle, afterwards a Danish fort, and now a pasture for sheep, is one of the most curious and extensive vestiges of antiquity in the country; and about half a mile to the north-west of the church are the remains of a druidical circle and altar, with an extensive and well-arranged cave; there is also a druidical altar near Beardiville, in a very perfect state. Fine impressions of the cornua ammonis are found in the chert at Portrush; the cornua and the echenite are found also in the limestone, and every variety of the zeolite and opal in the basaltic or trap formation, with chalcedony, strontium, agate, rock tallow, and veins of fullers' earth.