AGHANLOO, or AGHANLOE, a parish

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

AGHANLOO, or AGHANLOE, a parish, in the barony of KENAUGHT, county of LONDONDERRY, and province of ULSTER, 2 miles (N.) from NewtownLimavady; containing 2159 inhabitants. It comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 82511 statute acres, of which 50 ¾ acres are under water. On the plantation of Ulster in the reign of Jas. I., the lands of this parish and several others were allotted to the Haberdashers' Company, of London, who selected this as the head of their territory, and built a bawn and castle for its defence, in 1619, which was called Bally Castle, or "the Castle of the Town," and placed under the custody of Sir Robt. McLellan, who had a garrison of 80 able men and arms for its protection. In the war of 1641 the castle was besieged by the insurgents, headed by Capt. O. Hagan, but was bravely defended by Capt. Philips, its governor, till May in the following year, when it was relieved by the united Derry and Strabane troops, under the command of Col. Mervyn, and the assailants put to flight; but in the contentions which afterwards ensued it was destroyed, and has ever since been in ruins.

The lands are of variable quality; in the district bordering on the Roe the soil is fertile, being principally composed of gravel, with a mixture of clay, and produces abundant crops of wheat, oats, &c.; towards the mountains it is a stiff marl, with a substratum of white limestone, and produces excellent crops of flax and oats. The mountain of Benyevenagh, consisting entirely of basalt, and rising to the height of 1260 feet above the level of Lough Foyle, which washes its base, affords excellent pasturage, and is cultivated on the western side nearly to its summit. Limestone abounds, and is found ranging immediately under the basalt throughout the whole length of the parish.

The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Derry, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £315. The church, a small neat edifice in the early English style, was erected in 1836, by aid of a grant from the late Board of First Fruits; it has a lofty square tower crowned with pinnacles, and is situated about a quarter of a mile to the south of the ruins of the old church. Divine service is also performed in two school-houses, in distant parts of the parish, alternately once every Sunday, in summer, and twice in winter. The glebe-house, nearly adjoining the church, is a handsome residence; the glebe comprises 32a. 1r. 19p. of excellent land. In the R. C. divisions the parish is included partly in the union or district of Magilligan, and partly in that of Newtown-Limavady. There are schools at Lisnagrib, Stradragh, and Ballycarton, in which are about 140 boys and 90 girls; and there is also a private school of about 11 boys and 7 girls. The parochial school, supported by the rector, is at present discontinued, in consequence of the erection of a new school-house now in progress at the expense of the Marquess of Waterford. A portion of the south wall of the old church is still remaining; it was destroyed by the insurgents in 1641, and was rebuilt from the produce of forfeited impropriations, by order of Wm. III. The Rev. G. V. Sampson, author of a "Map and Memoir of the County of Derry," was rector of this parish, and his statistical survey is dated from the glebe of Aghanloo.

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