SEAGOE

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

SEAGOE, or SEGOE, a parish, in the barony of ONEILLAND EAST, county of ARMAGH, and province of ULSTER, 1 mile (N. N. E.) from Portadown, extending along the river Bann, and intersected by the great roads leading from Armagh to Belfast, and from Portadown to Banbridge; containing 9736 inhabitants. This place, which is said to have derived its name from Seagh-Gabha, "the smith's seat," was allotted to Nial Gabha, one of the sons of the great O'Nial. It is traditionally said that, in 836, a battle was fought here, in which Blacar, a Danish chief, ancestor of the family of Blacker, defeated Ail, or O'Nial, and his sept; and the place, adjoining Carrick demesne, is pointed out, called Lis-na-grilly, signifying "the fort of the dagger," where there are still faint traces of a circular intrenchment.

The parish is bounded on the west by the river Bann, along which it extends for about 4 ½ miles: it contains three manorial districts, subdivided into 47 townlands, comprising, according to the Ordnance survey, 10,982 ¼ statute acres: 1236 ½ are in Lough Neagh, and 495 in the river Bann; the rest are chiefly arable, though, along the banks of the river, there is an extensive tract of low meadow and pasture ground, which is inundated about Christmas, and the water does not disappear till March, when it leaves behind a light deposit of mud, enriching the soil and producing nutritious, though coarse, herbage: there is very little bog. Agriculture is considerably improved; the crops are corn, flax, and potatoes; onions are cultivated to a great extent. The fuel used is turf, cut and saved in the months of July and August, great quantities of which are conveyed up the Bann from the large bogs in Moyntaghs.

The trade is principally confined to the produce of the land, and a considerable quantity of butter, which finds a market in Portadown; though there is scarcely a house or family which is not, in one way or other, connected with the linen trade, of which there are extensive manufacturers throughout the parish. On the townland of Balteagh and Kilfergan there is a quarry, the stone of which has been discovered to be highly valuable as marble, and for lithography, for which it is said to equal the best German stone; and at Killycomain a superior hard blue stone is found.

On the hill of Drumlin, in the southern angle of the parish, are fine pits of gravel, particularly adapted for roads and walks. The surface of the parish is a gentle undulation of hill and dale; the highest point is the hill of Drumclogher, whence is obtained a full view of the parish and the rich scenery on the banks of the Bann, Lough Neagh, and the Mourne mountains; the river, here navigable for vessels of 60 tons, cannot be surpassed for its majestic appearance as it winds beautifully along the western boundary. It was crossed at Portadown by a bridge of seven arches, built in 1764, but which having given way in several places, a new bridge is now in progress of erection, at an expense to the county of £8000; it will be a very fine building of three arches, each more than 50 feet in span.

The parish is well intersected with roads, there being also a new line of road between Armagh and Belfast, which is carried through it for nearly three miles, besides several minor roads communicating with the county of Down. The farm-houses exhibit much appearance of comfort, particularly those on the Carrick estate, which are remarkable for their neatness. Manorial courts are held, in Kernan, for the estate of Viscount Mandeville; Carrowbrack, for that of Colonel Blacker; and the Derry, for that of C. Brownlow, Esq.: the respective seneschals hold their courts every three weeks, for the recovery of debts under 40s., and courts leet are held once in the year.

The principal gentlemen's seats are Seagoe House, the residence of the Venerable Archdeacon Saurin; and Carrick, of Lieutenant Colonel Blacker., a large edifice, built in 1692, but much improved since that time: the gardens and pleasure grounds retain many specimens of the taste of that age; in the sheep-walk of the demesne, on the summit of a low ridge or knoll is a curious excavation of an elliptic form, about 80 yards in circumference, sloping gradually inwards on all sides with great regularity; whether intended as a place of justice, or worship, there is no tradition; in the demesne are numerous fine old oaks, and well-grown beech and ash. Silverwood House is the seat of T. Cuppage, Esq.

The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Dromore, forming the corps of the archdeaconry, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes (chiefly of corn and hay) amount to £330, and the glebe comprises 500 acres, valued at £652. 7. 7. per ann., making the gross income of the archdeacon £982. 7. 7. The glebe-house is a commodious residence contiguous to the church; the latter is a large handsome edifice in the early English style, with a square tower, built at an entire cost of £2200, of which £1000 was a loan from the late Board of First Fruits; the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have recently granted £319 for its repair: the interior is fitted up in a very superior manner.

In the R. C. divisions the parish is united with that of Moyntaghs; there are two chapels, at Derrymacash and Bluestone. At Edenderry, which forms a suburb to Portadown, there is a meeting-house for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster, of the third class. There is also a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists at Bluestone; and a dispensary has recently been established. There are male and female schools at Balteagh and Bluestone, with houses for the master and mistress, chiefly supported by Lord and Lady Mandeville, and conducted on the principles of the Moral Agency System, with a lending library attached to each: the loan and clothing fund of Tanderagee, and the dispensary of Portadown, are connected with these schools, and open to the free use of parents and children.

There are also schools at Levaghery and Hacknahay, the former built by Colonel Blacker, the latter considerably aided by Mrs. Cope; other schools are aided by annual donations from Archdeacon Saurin and Colonel Blacker, and a girls' school at Carrick is superintended by Mrs. Blacker: in all these schools about 550 children are taught. There are also two private schools, in which about 180 children are educated; and a very extensive Sunday school at Bluestone.

Near the spot where the battle was fought, in which O'Nial was defeated, several brazen swords and spear-heads of superior workmanship have been dug up; two nearly perfect are in the possession of the Earl of Charleville, to whom they were presented by Colonel Blacker, who has in his possession a curious battle-hammer head of stone, found in the same place, the handle composed of osier withes, much resembling a smith's punch of the present day, which, from its elasticity, must have been a deadly weapon in close combat.

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