PORTRUSH

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

PORTRUSH, a sea-port, in the parish of BALLYWILLAN, barony of LOWER DUNLUCE, county of ANTRIM, and province of ULSTER, 5 miles (N. E.) from Coleraine, to which it has a penny-post; containing 337 inhabitants. It is situated at the northwestern extremity of the county, on a peninsula of basalt jutting a mile into the sea toward the Skerries, having on the west a small but deep bay. According to the early annalists, this was the chief landing-place in the territory of the Rowte or McQuillan's country; it was also chosen by Sir John Perrot, as the landing-place of his artillery at the siege of Dunluce castle. On the plantation of Ulster by James I., it was made a creek to Coleraine, but it latterly has absorbed all its trade, as the accumulation of sand on the bar of the latter port has rendered it very dangerous.

A large artificial harbour has been just finished at Portrush, the entrance to which is 27 feet deep at low water, which has not only secured to it this advantage but has considerably increased its trade. The number of vessels now trading hither is 120, of the aggregate burden of 10,260 tons. The principal trade is with Liverpool, Whitehaven, the Clyde and Campbeltown. The chief imports are timber, coal, iron, barilla and general merchandise; the exports, linen cloth, provisions, grain, live stock, poultry, eggs and salmon, the export of which last is very great during the season, which commences in May and ends in September; the numbers of salmon taken off the shore have been much increased by an improved kind of net, but the principal supply is from the Bann and Bush rivers. The grain shipped in 1834 exceeded 6000 tons; the butter, 8166 firkins. Steam-boats ply weekly to Liverpool and Glasgow, and three times a week to Londonderry, Moville and Ennishowen.

The town, owing to these causes, is rapidly improving. Many villas and lodges have been built in it or its immediate neighbourhood; and the beauty of its situation, commanding an extensive and varied range of scenery, makes it a favourite place of resort for strangers, particularly during the bathing season. A chapel of ease is about to be built in it, the parish church being a mile distant: there is a meeting-house for Wesleyan Methodists. It is a station for the constabulary police and for the coast-guard.

A male and female school, founded by the late Dr. Adam Clarke, and supported by the Irish Missionary Society, is kept in a large and handsome brick edifice with a cupola and bell. A handsome hotel is now in progress. Close to the town is a beautiful and extensive strand, and at its southern extremity is a range of cliffs of white limestone, in which are several extensive caves; near it are some hills formed wholly of sand drifted by the northern winds; some of these are of recent formation, as the rich vegetable soil, bearing evident marks of cultivation, can be traced beneath them.

After a violent storm in 1827, which swept away some of the sand, the remains of an ancient town were exposed to view, shewing the foundations of the houses, in which were found domestic utensils, moose deer's horns, spear heads of brass, and other military weapons. In the immediate neighbourhood is also a rock in which are imbedded large and perfect specimens of the cornu ammonis: various other species of fossils are frequently discovered. A new line of road from this place to Portstewart was made along the cliffs close to the shore, and a railroad from it to Coleraine is in contemplation.

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