From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837
TAMLAGHTFINLAGAN, a parish, in the barony of KENAUGHT, county of LONDONDERRY, and province of ULSTER, 2 ¼ miles (W. by S.) from Newtown-Limavady, on the mail coach road to Londonderry; containing 7356 inhabitants. The parish, which comprises, according to the Ordnance Survey, 17,402 statute acres, of which 81 ½ are under water, and one-sixth consists of mountain, derived its name from an abbey founded by St. Columbkill, in 585, in the townland of Tamlaght, over which he placed Fion Lugain, as its first abbot: at what time it ceased to be a monastic institution is now unknown, but. it is classed as a parochial church in Pope Nicholas's Taxation in 1291.
The lands belong to three proprietors, in the proportions of three-fifths to the freehold estate of Newtown, as granted to Sir Thomas Phillips; two-fifths to the Fishmongers' Company, and one-fifth to the see of Derry; and are in three distinct manors, but no courts are held in any of them. Lough Foyle forms about one-half of the western boundary. In the vale of Myroe, which exhibits some of the most beautiful and romantic scenery in the North of Ireland, and throughout all the northern districts, is some of the very finest and most productive land, bearing heavy crops of all kinds of grain: in the southern portion the land rises into considerable ranges of mountain and bog, by much the greater part of which is capable of cultivation, and from which spring the sources of the numerous streams and rivulets that irrigate and fertilise the lower grounds.
In the same portion, near the sources of the Rush and Ballykelly waters, are large deposits of excellent blue limestone, and in several places throughout the parish are indications of calcareous sandstone; but the prevailing rock is of schistose formation. The vicinity of the shores of Lough Foyle affords great facilities for water-carriage, of which full advantage has not yet been taken, though a large sum has been expended, somewhat injudiciously, towards the construction of a landing-place at the mouth of the Ballykelly water.
The inhabitants unite to their agricultural employment, which is the chief source of their incomes, the weaving of linen cloth: at the Dog-leap are extensive and very complete mills for bleaching linen, which are at present unemployed: there are several tanyards, in which a considerable quantity of leather is manufactured; three flour-mills, three corn-mills, and a plating-mill or forge for the manufacture of spades, shovels, and other agricultural implements. By much the greater number of the farms in the northern or lowland portion of the parish are well fenced, drained, and cultivated: green crops have latterly been attended to.
The old oak woods at Walworth, Roe Park, and the Dog-leap, and the modern plantations in various parts, add much to the richness of aspect that characterises the greater portion of the parish. The same effect is still farther heightened by the numerous seats with which it is studded. The principal are Roe Park, the residence of Edm. C. McNaghten, Esq.; Walworth, of the Rev. G. V. Sampson; Drummond, of A. Sampson, Esq.; Walworth Lodge, of Major Stirling; Finlagan, of the Rev. O. McCausland; Farloe, of John Given, Esq.; Bessbrook, of F. McCausland, Esq.; Rush Hall, of Hugh Boyle, Esq.; Oatlands, of John Church, Esq.; Culmore, of J. Martin, Esq.; and Ardnargle, of James Ogilby, Esq.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Derry, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £1000. The glebe-house is situated half a mile east of the church, upon a glebe of 188 Cunningham acres, which is valued at £235 per annum. The church was built in 1795, near the village of Ballykelly, at the joint expense of the Earl of Bristol, then Bishop of Derry, and of John Beresford, Esq.: it is a small but very handsome edifice, in the early English style, with a large square tower and lofty octagonal spire: the windows are embellished with the armorial bearings of the Irish Society, the Fishmongers' Company, and the Beresford family, in stained glass. In it is a very neat monument to the memory of the Rev. G. V. Sampson, author of the Memoir and Map of Londonderry and of the Statistical Survey of the same county: another belonging to the ancient family of the Hamiltons, and a third, of modern and elegant execution, to a junior branch of the Beresford family. A grant of £124 for its repair has been lately made by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Newtown-Limavady: the chapel is situated at Oghill, near Ballykelly; in which village there is a large meeting-house for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster, of the first class, built by the Fishmongers' company in 1827, in the Grecian style: at Largy and Myroe there are also meeting-houses of Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster.
Handsome male and female schools, with residences for the teachers, have been erected by the same company, and are conducted under its patronage on the most improved system: the parochial male and female schools, at Tamlaght, were built by the rector in 1832, and are supported by him: two others in the parish were built and are supported by the Fishmongers' company; one, at Glasvey, is in connection with the London Hibernian Society; and there are schools at Ballinarig, Dromore, Largy, Crindale, Carraghmenagh, and Lomond, in connection with the Kildare-place Society. These schools afford instruction to about 500 children: there are also 10 private schools, in which are about 300 boys and 230 girls; and a large and handsome dispensary at Ballykelly.
The remains of Walworth castle, erected by the Fishmongers' company, in 1619, shew it to have been a large and spacious edifice, defended by a bawn and flankers, three of which are still in a tolerable state of preservation. Closely adjoining are the remains of a church, built by the Hamilton family in 1629. The ruins of the old parish church, which was destroyed in the war of 1641, occupy the site of the ancient abbey. There are numerous raths, of which that called Daisy Hill, in Roe park, and another near it, called Rough Fort, are the most remarkable.