Castle of Olderfleet, County Antrim

The most interesting historical record in the vicinity of Larne is the Castle of Olderfleet, before mentioned, standing on the extremity of the peninsula called the curraàn,[49]—a sort of natural pier, forming the northern side of the Larne harbour, and completely commanding the strait by which it is entered. In the road from the town to the castle, the ruins of a little chapel, called Clondumales, are passed. At Olderfleet will be found a ferry-boat, which plies regularly between that point and Island Magee, for which passage one penny is demanded; and, having landed, the pedestrian will find two roads, one towards Brown's Bay, another along the Larne side: let him take the former. Of this island a curious and brief account is to be met with in a private MS. in this county, which mentions that in the reign of Elizabeth it was a complete waste, without any wood, although a fertile soil; and that the Queen had granted a lease of it to Savage, a follower of the Earl of Essex. At this time, says the MS., it was inhabited by the Magees, from whom it derives its name.

Not far from the landing-place stands a druidical cromlech. The covering stone, which rests on three supporters, is six feet in length, and of a triangular shape; its inclination is to the rising sun. On the east of Brown's Bay is a rocking-stone, or giant's cradle, which was said to acquire a rocking, tremulous motion, at the approach of sinners or malefactors : there were many of these over the face of the kingdom, but they are now dislodged in most places, so that the few which remain are most interesting curiosities. They were so ingeniously poised that the slightest impulse was capable of rocking a mass which the greatest strength was unable to dislodge; nor does there appear to be any contrivance adopted but the circumstance of placing the stone upon its rude pedestal. Until a very late period, Island Magee was the residence of witches, and the theatre of sorcery; in 1711, eight females were tried upon this extraordinary charge in Carrickfergus, and the memory of Fairy Brown is still a cause of terror among the neighbouring peasantry.

END OF CHAPTER II.


NOTE

[49] Curraàn is a corruption of the Irish word carrian (?), a hoop, which the curved form of the peninsula suggested originally.


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