With an attempt to promote some activity here, maybe people could
share with us what they may know about some of these ancients places,
which were described by an elderly gentleman, named SENEX in 1809?
Other possible things to share are inhabitants, industry, or other
natural beauties of any of the townlands mentioned?
transcribed from the Saunders Newsletter
Wed 22 Nov 1809
From the Belfast Magazine.
I am your constant reader, and fond of exploring and discovering the
antiquities of Ulster, and perceiving that you insert in your Magazine
dissertations on those subjects, if you think the following account of
the objects pointed out to me, when travelling on the mail-coach road,
from Belfast to Antrim, worthy of the attention of travellers, you may
insert it in your useful publication.
I am, &c. Jane M‘D. Antrim, Oct. 1, 1809.
Yesterday in getting into the coach for this place, I found in it a
silent, grave-looking, elderly man, who was unwilling to give any
answer to questions, but, yes madam, or no madam.
But, when a mile from town, being struck with the beauty of the
plantations, the neatness of the seats on the land side of the road,
and with the beauty of the bay on the other, I asked this man, whose
name, said is SENEX the name of the land; he said Skiog-O’Neil,
adding, that this country was once the property of the O’Neils ; the
parish is a vicarage called Shankil, or the old church; that Belfast
was more ancient than it appeared; that the date of the castle of
Belfast is unknown; that it was inhabited before Elizabeth’s time by
Randolfus LANE and granted by her to Sir Thomas SMITH the elder, and
to Thomas SMITH Esq. the younger, with a vast tract of adjoining
lands, on condition, that they should keep in readiness a certain
number of footmen, and horsemen, well accoutred and horsed, and be
ready to muster in a certain number of days, after required
proclamation in Antrim.
When Sir A. Chichester was Lord Deputy, such a proclamation was issued
in the time of James 1, neither of the SMITH's appearing as required,
their patent was forfeited ; the castle and cinament* of Belfast were
granted to Sir Arthur. The family inhabited this castle till it was
destroyed by fire, and two ladies burnt in it.
The bay contains about 24 square miles, fit for the secure anchorage
of large ships. The pool in which vessels lie, about three miles down,
is Carmoil (the place of heaps of fish). The whole bay is in most maps
written Carrickfergus bay, from the name of the founder of that
castle, situate on that shore, about 8 miles from Belfast, supposed by
some historians to be the first King of Scotland ; but at the time of
the erection of this edifice, Ireland was named Scotia, and Scotland,
Caledonia ; but historians mention 2 Kings Scotia, of the name of
'Fergus' the first of whom erected this pile.
Two miles and a half from Belfast are the ruins of a castle, vulgarly
called Green-castle, corrupted from Caislean Greine, the sunny castle,
from its situation.
The rocky hill to the north of it is called Cavehill, from a number of
caves in it, cut out of the rock : the lowest cave is like a large
room 16 feet wide, and 18 long, the roof is flat ; the second higher
up, is about 10 feet long and 8 wide, the top is in the form of Gothic
arch ; the third is twice as long as the first, and the fourth
resembles the second. The bold front this hill, with the sharp
adjoining rocks, exhibit a most beautiful picturesque view.
The range of mountains which extend along this shore, exhibit a great
variety of picturesque scenes, and the springs and streams which issue
from them are the sources of comfort and wealth the surrounding
On turning from the shore to Templepatrick, we get a view the small
church of Carnmoney anciently named Coole of Carnmoney. This parish,
Ballylinny, called Ballywalter, and the parish of Ballymartin, are
united. On the left we have a view Collinward Mountain, on the top of
it are two cairns, ancient cemetaries, in use before the time of
interring the dead. The road then enters the small vicarage of Moylusk
(the plain of the cave.) This was the property of the knights of St.
John of Jerusalem in Ireland. The vicarial tithe is paid to the Dean
of Connor in Carrickfergus.
This small vicarage, with three townlands adjacent, Craigarogan,
Kilgreel, and Barnes, were granted by patent to Sir Arthur Chichester,
and by him to one of the officers in his regiment ; at length it was
conveyed by assignment to the family of UPTON, and by them to the
family of ROW:EY
The name of the townland Kilgreel, is from a church near Roughfort
signifying the church of the dagger.This parish is called Carngraney,
from a curious ancient stone building near it, like an ancient
cromleach, or altar, raised upon stone supporters. Those large stones
were 12 in number ranged from S. E. to N. W. -that one toward the
west, is 6 or 7 feet high, that to the east, nearly on the ground;
they appear like steps of stairs, gradually rising from east to west.
The name of this I think is Came Greine, or the cairn of the sun.
Near this is an ancient mount supposed to be intended for a large
temple, on which the surrounding inhabitants worshipped the sun ;
adjoining are several fortifications very different from the round
raths of the Irish, and are probably Danish.
On the rising ground, we have a view of the church and mount of
Donnegorr, or the goat mount and of the beautiful valley in the bottom
of which runs the Six-mile water; so called, because the road from
Carrickfergus to Antrim, either touches it or is near it, at that
distance from this ancient fort. Templepatrick, once a beautiful
village, was mostly burnt by the Monaghan Militia the day after the
Antrim fight. This vicarage once the property of the Knights of St.
John, is now united to Antrim. Three towns adjoining were granted by
Sir Arthur to Humphry NORTON who built the castle here and gave it
the appellation of Castle Norton. This district is the district of
We next past the Six-mile water, anciently Owen Neview (the river of
the woods) at Dunerhery, where a beautiful mount is planted with
trees, the name signifies the middle mount, being in the middle the
valley : this is in the grange Nalteen near this is an ancient church
in ruins, to what monastery it was attached is uncertain.
On the north side of the river the road passes through Island Ban, one
of the 8 towns Muckamore. The other 7 towns are the south side of
Six-mile water. COLMAN obtained a grant of this district called Elo,
from the O'NEILS, at a meeting in Tara, in the year 550: hence its
name is Colman Elo. He founded a famous monastery in this place which
has been called Muckemore ; I think corrupted from the true
dedication, not to saints or angels, but Mcchd mor, the great, great,
or very great one.
Those 8 towns were granted by James 1 to Sir Roger LANGFORD about the
year 1639, they are now part of the property of the family MASSEREENE.
When near Antrim have a view round of a tower which has been built on
the plan of the ancient round towers of Ireland, supposed to have been
places for preserving the sacred fire of the country. There was
adjoining this tower a monastery called Entroia, a supposed
improvement of the name Antrim, which signifies the caves of the
The town was once a flourishing place, with 2 excellent fairs, held on
the 12 of May and 12th of November, and a good market every week on
Thursday but since the non-residence the MASSEREENE family it has been
declining : Randalstown and Ballymena have succeeded to most of its
trade and manufactures.
On the south side of the river adjoining Antrim was the little
monastery of Massereene, from Masrain, a beautiful portion ; this
small district was granted to Sir Arthur by James 1. and is still part
of the estate of the Donegal family. The inhabitants of this beautiful
and fruitful vale, between Carrickfergus bay and Loughneagh, are
almost universally Protestant dissenters.
I inquired why SENEX did not publish ancient and modern history of the
county. He answered, such is daily expected from the Literary Society
of Belfast. *
*Cinein (Irish) is a family, and cinament is the district for
habitation of a family. Cinament of the castle of Belfast must mean
the land possessed by the family living in the castle.
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