BALLYNASCREEN, a parish

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

BALLYNASCREEN, a parish, in the barony of LOUGHINSHOLIN, county of LONDONDERRY, and province of ULSTER; containing, with the market and post-town of Draperstown, 7854 inhabitants. This appears to have been a place of importance at a very early period; frequent notice of it occurs in the Trias Thaumaturga and other ancient records, though it is, neither mentioned in the Monasticon nor in the Visitation of 1622, which includes every other parish in the neighbourhood. The original church, the ruins of which are situated in a romantic and sequestered glen among the mountains, is said to have been founded by St. Patrick, and subsequently consecrated by St. Columb as a parochial church. The parish is intersected by the river Moyola, which has its sources amidst the mountain regions of Slieve Gullion, Moneymeeney, and Slieve Dovin, which extend into the county of Tyrone, where they meet the Munterloney range. It comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 32,492 statute acres, of which about 200 acres are mountain, waste, and bog. Part of the parish belongs to the Drapers' Company, of London, part to the representative of the Skinners' Company, and part to the see of Derry.

The soil is various: around Draperstown and on the banks of the Moyola it is a deep gravel and sand, and in an excellent state of cultivation, producing good crops of wheat, flax, oats, and potatoes, and some barley, but on the higher grounds the chief crops are flax, oats, and potatoes. The freestone is of superior quality and is extensively worked for building. Manganese has been found in detached nodules in several of the mountain streams and Boate, in his Natural History, states that gold has been also discovered here. Derrynoyd Lodge is the residence of the Rt. Hon. Judge Torrens. The inhabitants are principally employed in agriculture, with which they combine the weaving of linen and dealing in cattle, great numbers of which are bred on the mountains and exported to England and Scotland.

The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Derry, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £623. 1. 6 ½. The church, a large handsome edifice in the early English style, is situated at Draperstown, and was erected in 1760, principally through means of the Earl of Bristol, then Bishop of Derry; and the tower and a handsome octagonal spire were added in 1792, aided by contributions from Sir William Rowley, Bart., and the Drapers' Company, the latter of whom are proprietors of the estate and contributed £50. The glebe-house, a handsome residence, is situated on a glebe of 16la. 3r. 12p.; and there is another glebe in the townland of Bancran, containing 750a. 1r. 7p., much of which is mountain and pasture land.

The R. C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church; there are chapels at Moneymeeny and Straw. Two male and female schools are supported by the rector; two, situated at Black Hill and Carnamony, are supported by the Drapers' Company; and there are seven schools, situated respectively at Draperstown, Derrynoyd, Brackragh-Dysart, Drumard, Labby, Altyaskey, and Straw, under the National Board. In these schools are about 700 boys and 520 girls; and there are also two private schools, in which are about 100 children; and five Sunday schools. The ruins of the old church are highly interesting. There are numerous relics of antiquity, particularly cromlechs, of which there were formerly five within the limits of the parish.—See DRAPERSTOWN.

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