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Ardtrea Parish, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland in 1837
Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland

Transcribed, Compiled and Submitted by
Len Swindley, Melbourne, Australia

ARDTREA, or ARTREA, a parish, partly in the barony of DUNGANNON, county of TYRONE, and partly in the barony of LOUGHINSHOLIN, county of LONDON- DERRY, and province of ULSTER; containing, with the district or perpetual curacy of Woods-chapel, and the greater part of the market and post-town of Moneymore, 12,390 inhabitants, of which number, 7,471 are in the district of Woods-chapel. During the rebellion of the Earl of Tyrone, in the reign of Elizabeth, this place was the scene of numerous conflicts; and in the parliamentary war, in 1641, it was involved in many of the military transactions of that period. In 1688-9, a sanguinary battle took place here between the adherents of Jas. II, who were in possession of the forts of Charlemont and Mountjoy, and the forces of Wm. III, commanded by Lord Blayney, who, having possession of Armagh, was desirous of assisting the garrisons of Inniskillen and Derry, and for this purpose determined to force a passage to Coleraine, which he accomplished, after defeating a detachment of the enemy’s forces at the bridge of Ardtrea. The parish, which is also called Ardtragh, is situated partly on Lough Beg, but chiefly on Lough Neagh, and is intersected by the Ballinderry river and by numerous roads, of which the principal are those leading respectively from Armagh to Coleraine, from Omagh to Belfast, and from Stewarts-town to Moneymore. It contains, according to the Ordnance survey, 20,962¾ statute acres, of which 18,679¼ are in the county of Londonderry, including 2,181½ in Lough Neagh, 317½ in Lough Beg, and 26½ in the river Bann. The soil is very various; the land is chiefly arable, and is fertile and well cultivated, especially around Moneymore, on the estate belonging to the Drapers’ Company, and on that belonging to the Salters’ Company round Ballyronan. There are several extensive tracts of bog in various parts, amounting in the whole to nearly 3,000 acres, and affording an ample supply of fuel. Freestone of every variety, colour and quality, is found here in abundance; and there is plenty of limestone. At a short distance from the church, on the road to Cookstown, is an extraordinary whin dyke, which rises near Ballycastle in the county of Antrim, passes under Lough Neagh, and on emerging thence near Stewart Hall, passes through this parish and into the mountain of Slievegallion, near Moneymore. Spring Hill, the pleasant seat of W. Lenox Conyngham, Esq., is an elegant and antique mansion, situated in a rich and highly improved demesne, embellished with some of the finest timber in the country. The other principal seats are Lakeview, the residence of D. Gaussen, Esq.; Warwick Lodge, of W. Bell, Esq.; and Ardtrea House, of the Rev. J. Kennedy Bailie, D. D. The farm-houses are generally large and well built; and most of the farmers, in addition to their agricultural pursuits, carry on the weaving of linen cloth for the adjoining markets. There is an extensive bleach-green, which, after having been discontinued for some years, has been repaired and is now in operation. The primate’s court for the manor of Ardtrea is held at Cookstown monthly, for the recovery of debts under £5; and its jurisdiction extends over such lands in the parishes of Lissan, Derryloran, Kildress, Arboe, Desertcreight, Ardtrea, Clonoe, Tamlaght, Ballinderry, and Donaghendrie, as are held under the see. The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Armagh, and in the patronage of the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin: the tithes amount to £738.9.3¾. The church, an elegant edifice in the later English style, was erected in 1830, near the site of the ancient church; the principal entrance is a composition of very elegant design, and, from its elevated site, the church forms a very pleasing object in the landscape. The glebe-house is a large and handsome residence, built of hewn freestone by the late Dr. Elrington, then rector of the parish and subsequently Bishop of Ferns, aided by a gift of £100, and a loan of £1,050, from the late Board of First Fruits: the glebe comprises 115¼ acres. The district church, called Woods-chapel, is situated at a distance of 10 miles from the mother church: the living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Rector. In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, called Moneymore, which comprises this parish and part of that of Desertlyn, and contains three chapels, one at Moneymore, one at Ballynenagh, and a third at Derrygaroe. There are two places of worship for Presbyterians at Moneymore, one for those in connection with the Synod of Ulster, of the first class, built by the Drapers’ Company at an expense of £4000; and one for those in connection with the Seceding Synod, of the second class, built by subscription on a site given by the Drapers’ Company, who also contributed £250 towards its erection. There are three schools aided by the Drapers’ Company, and one at Ballymulderg, the whole affording instruction to about 170 boys and 170 girls; and there are also two pay schools. An ancient urn, very elaborately ornamented was found in a kistvaen, on opening a tumulus in the townland of Knockarron, in 1800, and is now in the possession of John Lindesay, Esq., of Loughry.

MONEYMORE, a market and post-town, partly in the parish of DESERTLYN, but chiefly in that of ARDTREA, barony of LOUGHINSHOLIN, county of LONDON- DERRY, and province of ULSTER, 24 miles (S.) from Coleraine, and 92 (N.) from Dublin, on the road to Coleraine; containing 1025 inhabitants. This place, which is one of the oldest post-towns in the country, is noticed by Pynnar, in his survey of Ireland, as consisting of an ancient castle, which he describes as a fine old building, and of six good houses of stone and lime, supplied with water conveyed by pipes to the castle and to each of the houses from a well near the limestone quarry at Spring Hill. Cormick O’Hagan, a follower of Sir Phelim O’Nial, took the castle by stratagem in 1641, and it remained for a long time in the possession of the insurgents, by whom it was subsequently destroyed. Sir Phelim, sometime after, rendezvoused his troops at this place, whence he marched to plunder the house of Lissan, then the property and residence of Sir Thomas Staples. The castle which was one of the most perfect in Ireland, was taken down about the year 1760, to afford room for a small public-house, and only some portions of the walls are at present remaining. In lowering the high street and the hills some years since, some of the old water pipes were discovered, the wood of which crumbled into dust, but the iron hoops were in a tolerably perfect state and are now in the possession of Mr. Miller; some more of the pipes were also found in trenching a field adjoining the spring, proving the accuracy of Pynnar’s statement. The town consists of two principal and five smaller streets, and contains 184 houses, which are very neatly built, and several others are now in progress of erection. About a quarter of a mile above it is Spring Hill, the seat of W. L. Conyngham, Esq., a fine mansion more than 200 years old, pleasantly situated in grounds tastefully arranged and commanding some finely varied scenery; the demesne is enriched with some remarkably fine beech, oak, ash, and fir trees, and close to the house is a remarkably fine cedar. A very elegant house has been recently built by Rowley Miller, Esq., agent of the Drapers’ company, and another by J. R. Miller, Esq.; the glebe- house, built in 1831 by the Hon. and Rev. J. P. Hewitt, is a very handsome residence; and Desertlyn Cottage, the residence of J. Smyth, Esq., is pleasantly situated and the grounds tastefully laid out. There are also, in the immediate vicinity of the town, handsome houses belonging to Z. Maxwell and E. L. Batchelor, Esqrs., the Rev. J. Barnett, the Rev. G. Thompson, Mrs. Hamilton and others. The surrounding district has been greatly improved by the Drapers’ company, who are the proprietors, since the year 1817, when, on the expiration of a lease granted to Sir W. Rowley, the estates returned into their possession, and have since been managed under their superintendence. The annual rent roll is £10,300, the whole of which is expended by the company in the improvement of the country generally, and more especially of their own property. They have planted more than 800 statute acres, and have completed more than 50 Irish miles of good road at their own expense, for the convenience and benefit of their tenantry; they have expended more than £1,000 in the erection of bridges, and are about to plant 800 acres of mountainous land, in addition to the former plantations. They have thus not only added to the improvement and embellishment of the surrounding district, but have contributed greatly to the benefit of the poor by affording employment to the industrious, and have given directions to their agents to afford employment to all that may stand in need of it. The system of agriculture has been greatly improved under the auspices of the North-West Farming Society; there is little or no waste land, and scarcely sufficient bog to supply the inhabitants with fuel. There are many limestone quarries, from which lime is pro- cured chiefly for manure; sandstone and freestone of good quality abound, and from the quarries of the latter was raised the stone for the erection of the new church; coal has also been found near the surface, and about two years since an attempt was made to explore the vein, but without success. The linen manufacture is carried on extensively throughout the district; and there is a considerable traffic by means of Lough Neagh, which is within four miles of the town, and across which merchandise brought by the canal from Belfast and Newry is conveyed to Port Ballyronan, where corn, butter and other agricultural produce of this neighbourhood are shipped to those places for exportation to Liverpool and other English ports. The market is on Monday, and fairs are held on the 21st of each month, at which, in addition to horses, cows, swine, sheep, and agricultural produce, large quantities of linen are also sold. These are the largest linen fairs in the North of Ireland; the sales, on an average, amount to £40,000 per annum. An additional linen market, established in 1835, is held on the first Monday in every month; it is well attended, and promises to equal the other linen fairs in the ex- tent of its sales. The market and court-house, and the linen-hall, erected in 1818, are neat and well-arranged buildings; and near them is a spacious and handsome hotel, erected about the same time. A new market-place and a spacious corn-store are now being erected, a little off the main street, which will diminish the pressure of the people on market and fair days; and here corn, potatoes, butchers’ meat and other articles will be exposed for sale. A constabulary police force is stationed in the town; petty sessions are held on alternate Tuesdays, and a court for the manor once every month, in which debts to the amount of 40 shillings late currency are recoverable. The manor is co-extensive with the whole estates belonging to the Drapers’ company which include portions of the several parishes of Arboe, Ardtrea, Ballynascreen, Derryloran, Desertlyn, Desertmartin, Kilcronaghan, Lissan, Maghera, and Tamlaght. This estate comprises 64 townlands, nine of which are native freeholds, each paying a chief rent to the company, and of which seven are in the parish of Kilcronaghan. The parish church of Desertlyn, situated in the town, is a very handsome structure, in the Norman style, and was erected in 1832, at an expense of £6,000, wholly defrayed by the Drapers’ company, There are also a handsome R. C. chapel, towards the rebuilding of which the same company contributed £230; a place of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster, built by the company at an expense of £4000; and one for those in connection with the Seceding Synod, built on ground presented by the company, who also contributed £250 towards its erection; these last pay an annual rent of 5s., and the ground around them has been tastefully laid out and planted by the company. Two large and handsome school-houses, with residences for a master and mistress, were built in the town in 1820, and are supported by the Drapers’ company, who also have built and support four others in the rural parts of their estate; in these schools about 1,400 children are gratuitously instructed, and ten of the boys annually apprenticed to handicraft trades; the masters have each a salary of £50 and the mistresses of £35 per ann., with a house rent-free and a supply of fuel. Two dispensaries, with houses for resident surgeons, were built and are supported by the company, one here and one at Draperstown, for the benefit of their tenantry; and two county dispensaries at the same places were also erect- ed and are solely supported by the same company, for the benefit of such inhabitants of the surrounding district as do not reside on their estates. The company allow £1,000 per ann., for the maintenance of the schools and dispensaries, which are regulated by a Board of Governors, consisting of the clergy of all denominations, the resident gentry of the neighbourhood, and the respectable farmers on the estate. There are several Danish forts in the parish, two of which, on the town-land of Tulnagee, are in a perfect state; and adjoining the linen-hall are some slight vestiges of the ancient castle.

WOODS-CHAPEL, or CHAPEL-IN-THE-WOODS, a district parish, in the barony of LOUGHINSHOLIN, county of LONDONDERRY, and province of ULSTER, 2½ miles (E.) from Magherafelt, on the road from Belfast to Londonderry, by Toomebridge; containing 7,471 inhabitants. Prior to the Reformation this district was a parish, called in ecclesiastical records the parish of Ross-Aglish, with a church, glebe, and glebe-house, as appears by the return made to Hen. VIII. in 1540. It was granted by Queen Elizabeth, together with Ardtrea and Kiltinny, now called Upper Aglish, to the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin, when the three were united into a single parish under the name of Ardtrea, and so continued until 1823, when this district was severed from it, and constituted a perpetual curacy, according to the ecclesiastical, and a distinct parish according to the civil, arrangements. The district, which consists of 15 townlands taken from the parish of Ardtrea, extends from near Moneymore, along the shore of Lough Neagh, by Ballyronan, Castledawson, and Toome, to the neighbourhood of Bellaghy, on the shore of Lough Beg; comprising an extent of 10,440½ statute acres. The soil in general is light, with an occasional intermixture of rich land; that in the neighbourhood of Ballyronan is very fertile and highly cultivated, well fenced and planted. The crops most usually raised are wheat, oats, barley, potatoes, turnips, and flax; mangel-wurzel, clover, and vetches sometimes form part of the rotation. In the neighbourhood of Toome, between the lakes and towards Bellaghy, it consists altogether of low marshy meadow, mostly covered with water during winter, but in summer yielding excellent and abundant pasturage. The Lough Neagh Improvement Company proposes to draw off the surplus waters of that lake through this tract, and thus not only to effect the thorough drainage of this extensive tract of rich land, but, by reducing the waters of Lough Neagh to their summer level, to reclaim many thousand acres now under water, and consequently unprofitable during a great portion of the year. The soil rests mostly on a substratum of basalt, which shews itself frequently above the surface in knolls of rock, much broken and decomposed; some veins of the coal formation from Castledawson appear near Warwick Lodge, and a few scattered fragments of the limestone formation from Springhill: but in neither case does the appearance of the seams hold out encouragement for an expenditure of capital to work them. The proposed line of railway from Armagh to Coleraine is intended to pass through the parish, but no progress has yet been made towards its accomplishment beyond the marking out of the line. Close to the shore of Lough Neagh is the village of Balyronan, which see. The houses of the farmers, though generally small, are well built, comfortably furnished, and for the most part surrounded with small orchards and gardens. The plantations about Lakeview, the seat of D. Gaussen, Esq., being arranged partly in hedge-rows and partly in clumps or groves, give the neighbourhood a lively and prosperous appearance. Warwick Lodge is the residence of W. Bell, Esq.; Lisnamorrow, of T. Dawson, Esq.; and Ballyneil House, of the Rev. L. Dowdall, a lineal descendant of the celebrated Geo. Dowdall, Archbishop of Armagh, whose opposition to the orders of Hen. VIII. respecting the changes of the liturgy gave rise to the long-continued controversy between the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin, as to the right of each to the primacy of the Church of Ireland. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the diocese of Armagh, and in the patronage of the Rector of Ardtrea: the income of the perpetual curate amounts to £89. 4. 7½., of which £69. 4. 7½. is payable by the rector of Ardtrea, and £20 from the augmentation fund of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners: the glebes appear to have been comprised in the grant by Jas. I. to the London Society, or they have since merged into the estate of the Salters’ Company, which has an extensive and valuable property there. The church, at Lisnamorrow, ten miles distant from the mother church, and between two and three east of Magherafelt, was built in 1730, and enlarged in 1825, at an expense of £415 British, by a loan from the late Board of First Fruits: the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have lately granted £183 for its repair. The ruins of the old church still remain; and its yard is used as a burial-ground. In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Moneymore, and has a chapel, a small plain edifice, at Derrygarve. At Ballymaguigan, or Gracefield, there is a small Moravian settlement, with a chapel, burial-ground, and school attached to it. The male and female parochial schools, at Lisnamorrow, close to the churchyard, are chiefly supported by the rector; one at Ballyronan is supported, by the Marquess of Londonderry, Sir R. Bateson, Bart., and D. Gaussen, Esq.; and there are others at Aughrim, Anahorish, Ballymuldey, Ballymuldeymore, Creagh Moyola, and Derrygarve, in connection with different societies: these schools afford instruction to 330 boys and 250 girls, and there are also five Sunday schools.