Place:Island Magee, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

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NameIsland Magee
Alt namesIsland Maguy
TypeParish
Coordinates54.82917°N 5.7074°W
Located inCounty Antrim, Northern Ireland
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.


ISLAND MAGEE, otherwise ISLAND MAGUY, a parish, in the barony of LOWER BELFAST, county of ANTRIM, and province of ULSTER, 6 miles (N. E. by E.) from Carrickfergus; containing 2610 inhabitants. Edward Bruce landed on this island in 1315; and Sir Moyses Hill, ancestor of the Marquess of Downshire, took refuge in a cave here when pursued by the Mac Donells, who had slain Sir John Chichester. In 1642 all the R. C. inhabitants were killed by some Scottish soldiers under Munro, on their march to Carrickfergus. The parish forms a peninsula between Larne Lough and the North Sea, and the Isle of Muck or March lies near the coast. According to the Ordnance survey it comprises 7036 1/2 statute acres of excellent land in a high state of cultivation, which produces wheat and beans of the finest quality. Coal is supposed to exist, and basalt used for building and for repairing the roads is abundant. Spinning and the weaving of linen cloth and calico are carried on in various parts of the parish, and some of the inhabitants are employed in fishing. There is a pier at Portmuck, from which much limestone is shipped.

There are coast-guard stations at Portmuck and Blackhead, which are included in the district of Carrickfergus. A court is held by the seneschal of the Marquess of Donegal, for the recovery of debts and the determination of pleas to the amount of £20. It is a rectory, in the diocese of Connor, forming part of the union of Carrickfergus: the tithes amount to £400. The church, a small edifice, rebuilt in 1827, on the foundations of an ancient and more extensive structure, is close to the margin of Larne Lough. There are two places of worship for Presbyterians, of the third class, one in connection with the Synod of Ulster, the other with the Seceding Synod. About 270 children are educated in 10 private schools. Near Brown's bay is a rocking stone, weighing about 12 tons; and at Ballyumpage are the remains of a cromlech or druids' altar; there are also the remains of two ancient churches. In the cliffs called the Gobbins are seven caves, into which the tide flows: they are a little above low water mark, under a basaltic rock, 210 feet high, intersected by layers of ochreous basalt, about an inch thick, and of a deep vermillion colour. Near the entrance to the peninsula are the remains of Castle Chichester, occupying a beautiful situation on a bold shore. A spring of pure but weak saline water rises near Red Hill. The ancient rent of this island was two goshawks and a pair of gloves.

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