BALLYMASCANLON, a parish

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

BALLYMASCANLON, a parish, in the barony of LOWER DUNDALK, county of LOUTH, and province of LEINSTER, 2 miles (N. E.) from Dundalk; containing 6339 inhabitants. This parish derives its name from the sept of the Scanlons, its ancient proprietors: it is situated on the northern shore of the bay of Dundalk, and on the high road from Dublin to Belfast; a good road from Carlingford to Newry also passes through it. The lordship formerly belonged to Mellifont abbey, on the dissolution of which it was granted to the Moores, ancestors of the Marquess of Drogheda, by whom it was sold to the family of Fortescue, and is now the property of T. Fortescue, Esq. It comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 15,997 ½ statute acres, including l77 ¼in the detached townland of Kilcurry.

In the eastern part of the parish is a range of heathy mountains not designated by any general name, but of which one is called Carriquit, extending 7 ½ miles in a direction nearly from north to south; in summer they afford tolerable pasturage, and from the chalybeate properties of the springs which issue from them are supposed to contain iron ore. The western part is much improved by extensive plantations, and the scenery throughout is highly picturesque. The south and east portions form part of the shore of the bay, off which are taken fish of all kinds, more especially flat fish. Agriculture is in an advanced state; the land in some parts yields fine crops of wheat, barley, oats, and potatoes. Limestone abounds and is quarried for building and also to be burnt into lime for manure. The manufacture of linen is carried on to a limited extent: there are some bleaching establishments on the banks of the Flurry, the principal of which belong to R. Benison, Esq., who has also recently erected a flax-mill, and R. Thomson, Esq. At Ballymascanlon are corn-mills, the property of J. W. Mac Neale, Esq.; and there are other oatmeal and flour-mills, and a manufactory for edge tools, at Ravensdale. The principal seats are Ravensdale Park, the residence of T. Fortescue, Esq., a handsome mansion situated in an extensive and beautiful demesne, with a well-stocked deer park; and Ballymascanlon House, of J. Wolfe Mac Neale, Esq. There are also many other genteel residences, namely, Annaverna, the seat of the late Baron McClelland, and now the residence of his widow; Strandfield, of J. Moore, Esq.; Mount Pleasant, of J. Mac Neale, Esq.; in Ravensdale, the residences of R. Benison, R.Thomson, A. H. Rutherford, and B. Thomson, Esqrs.; Aughnaskeagh, of J. Black, Esq.; Claret Rock, of T. McGrath, Esq.; the Cottage, of Mrs. Rogers; the Villa, of Mrs. Skelton; Brohatna Lodge, the property of H. R. Brush, Esq.; and the glebe-house, the residence of the Rev. H. T. Hobson, the incumbent.

The living is an impropriate curacy, in the diocese of Armagh, and in the patronage of T. Fortescue, Esq., impropriator of the rectory. The parish, having formerly been abbey land, is tithe-free, and the lord of the manor pays to the incumbent out of the impropriation an annual stipend of £20, which is augmented with a grant of £73. 12. per ann. from Primate Boulter's fund. The church is a plain structure with a tower, partially built in 1819 by a loan of £550 from the late Board of First Fruits, and repaired in 1836 by a grant of £256 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners: it contains three handsome monuments, one to the memory of the late Baron McClelland, and the others to the Rev. Dennis Magrath and the Rev. Owen Ormsby, late incumbents; that to the latter was erected by subscription among the Protestant parishioners. The glebe-house is situated on a glebe of 20 acres, about 2 ¼miles from the church. In the R. C. divisions this parish is included in the union or district of Faughart, and has three chapels, of which one, situated at Rock Marshall, is a neat and spacious edifice, built on ground given by Mr. Fortescue.

There is a place of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster. The parochial school is aided by an annual donation from the impropriator; there are two other schools aided by private subscriptions, and two R. C. schools are about to be placed under the National Board of Education: there are also six private pay schools in the parish, and a dispensary. Here is a cromlech of three, upright stones supporting a massive tabular stone, about 12 feet long and 9 broad, and computed to weigh more than 30 tons: it is vulgarly called the Giant's Load, from a tradition that it was brought to the place by a giant named Porrah Baugh Mac Shaggcan. Near it, in the same field, is a rath called Chillo Ca Larc, said to be the burial-place of Mac Scanlon, chief of that sept in the tenth century. There are some remains of the ancient castle of Ballymascanlon; also of an old church on Faughart Hill, with a cemetery adjoining, in which is a large stone said by tradition to point out the grave of Edward Bruce, brother to the Scottish king: there are likewise several Danish raths on this hill. Mount Bagnall, at the eastern extremity of the parish, is an artificial eminence occupying a very romantic situation near the precipitous banks of the river, and is supposed to be of Danish origin. In the same vicinity is the old mansion of Piedmont, formerly the residence of the Balfours.

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