From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837
TEMPLEMORE, a parish, in the North-west liberties of the city of LONDONDERRY, county of LONDONDERRY, and province of ULSTER; containing, with the city of Londonderry, 19,620 inhabitants, of which number, 10,130 are in the city. This parish, also called Templederry, and more anciently Derry, or Derry Columbkille, derives its name Ternplemore, "the Great Church," from the cathedral of Derry, to which that name had been applied, in a popular acceptation, to distinguish it from the smaller churches in its immediate vicinity, and, after the cathedral had been used as the parish church, the name was extended to the parish. The most ancient name of the district in which it was situated was Moy-Iha, "the Plain of Ith," uncle of Milesius, whose sons led into Ireland the celebrated colony that bore his name.
This district, which comprehended the tract between Loughs Foyle and Swilly, and extended as far south as the river Fin, was afterwards divided between Owen and Enda, the two sons of Nial of the Nine Hostages, under the names of Inis-Owen, "Owen's Island," and Tir-Enda, "Enda's Territory." Previously to the 12th century, Moy-Iha was occupied by a branch of the Kinel-Owen, called Clan-Conor, of which the most distinguished families were those of O'Cathan, O'Cairellan, O'Murry, O'Kennedy, O'Corran, O'Quin, and O'Dugan, most of whom having crossed the Foyle into Derry, their places here were occupied by the Kinel-Moen, another branch of the Kinel-Owen, of whom the O'Gormlys and O'Loonys were chiefs: these in turn were driven across the Foyle by the Kinel-Connell in the l5th century.
From inquisitions taken in the reign of James I. it appears that about half the parish was then considered to belong to Inishowen, or O'Dogherty's country; that Sir John O'Dogherty had several townlands now in Templemore, which were included in a regrant of Inishowen made to him on a surrender in the 30th of Elizabeth: he forfeited this property in 1599 by rebellion, but it was re-granted to his son, Sir Cahir O'Dogherty, with the exception of some townlands reserved for the fort of Culmore.
In 1608, Sir Cahir also rebelled, in consequence of which all his estates were granted to Arthur, Lord Chichester, of Belfast, who leased them to Sir Faithful Fortescue, Arthur Ussher, Tristram Beresford, and Charles Pointz. Of the 24 townlands into which the parish is now divided, one, on which is the fort of Culmore, belongs to the King; one to Captain Hart; one and a part to the Bishop of Derry in right of his see; two to Lord Templemore, a branch of the Chichester family; three to the Marquess of Donegal, the head of the same family; and fifteen and a part to the Irish Society. Until the year 1809 the parish extended into the county of Donegal, and included the three parishes of Burt, Inch, and Muff, which were then severed from it and erected into perpetual curacies.
The parish, as at present constituted, contains 12,611 statute acres, according to the Ordnance survey, valued at £8363., without the buildings on it, and with these, at £26,716., per ann.: it is bounded by the river and Lough Foyle on the east, and by the county of Donegal on every other side, extending about eight miles in length from north-east to south-west, and less than three in its greatest breadth in the contrary direction. The surface is beautifully undulating, presenting a succession of hills, mostly cultivated or under pasture.
A wide valley, extending from the Foyle at Pennyburn, separates the hills into two groups. Of these the southern is the most prominent, rising at its southern extremity into Holywell hill, 860 feet above the sea; the highest point of the northern group, in Elaghmore, is not more than 354 feet. The lake of Ballyarnet, occupying portions of the three townlands of Ballyarnet, Ballynashallog, and Ballynagard, contains only 3a. 3r. 27p.; its height above the sea is about 100 feet. Except the Foyle, which is navigable for small craft to Castlefin, there is 110 other body of water entitled to the name of river; the numerous small streams which irrigate the parish, flow eastward into the main river or lough, with the exception of one, which, passing by Coshquin, terminates in Lough Swilly. Springs are numerous; not fewer than eight occur within a tract of about 20 acres, in Springhill and Creggan; several of them are slightly chalybeate.
The coast of Lough Foyle, where it borders the parish, is low, and destitute of any striking characteristic features. It is the general opinion of the intelligent farmers here that a marked amelioration has taken place in the climate; the seasons both of seed time and harvest have advanced considerably: the extended cultivation of wheat, and the increasing number of quails are further proofs of it. The soil in the higher grounds is occasionally, though rarely, stony, sandy, and meagre; but in by far the greater portion of the parish it is a light productive clay or loam, which in the very low grounds becomes stiffer, though never to an injurious extent. The subsoil is more generally a coating of gravel resting on the rock than the rock itself, and is often in a very indurated state, owing to the abundance of iron proceeding from the decomposition of the schistose rocks: it is then called "till," and more generally "red till," from its prevailing colour, and is considered to be injurious to vegetation.
The geological structure of the parish is simple; the great mass of the primary schistose rocks which occupies much of the western portion of the county, spreads over its whole surface, with the exception of a considerable patch of detritus at Culmore in the north-east, which probably conceals a part of the new red sandstone, that rock being visible at the northern extremity of the parish, and also with the exception of several very limited deposits of mud and clay which skirt the Foyle on the south-east. Mica slate, passing into quartz slate, is the prevailing rock, occupying at least two-thirds of its substance. Limestone is found only in small quantities at its southern extremity, where the quarries have been abandoned; and greenstone, of a dense, close-grained and homogeneous character, at Conn's Hill, where the opening of the quarry is, strictly speaking, without the bounds. The schistose rocks are in the harder varieties too coarse, and in the softer not sufficiently cohesive, for being used as roofing slates; but they are much employed in building: plenty of clay for bricks is to be had; but the manufacture has been relinquished on account of the scarcity of fuel.
The bogs are of great local importance, though they are now only the relics of a more extensive tract, which has been nearly exhausted by continued use: portions are occasionally reclaimed, and when the peat has been entirely cut away, the subsoil is easily brought into cultivation: large trunks and roots of trees have been raised from them. The natural meadows are extensive, particularly on the sides of some of the bogs: the mountain pasture is generally poor.
Wheat, which formerly was considered unsuitable to the climate and soil, is now in much estimation: green crops are occasionally adopted. Forced or sown meadows are by no means general; when prepared for cutting the first year, they are sown with perennial rye-grass and red clover; when for grazing, white grass and white clover are sown. There are several nurseries. Most of the timber in the parish appears to have been planted more for ornament than profit: the most common trees along the Foyle are beech, elm, sycamore, and ash: a small patch of natural wood is to be seen at Ballynagalliagh. Manures are easily attainable, being partly stable dung, partly lime, drawn from the city; and partly a compost of bog earth, dung, lime, and shells; the shells are procured at a bank called Shell Island, in Lough Foyle: kelp is occasionally used.
The manufactures carried on in the rural parts of the parish are chiefly those arising directly from agricultural produce. The mill at Pennyburn ground 1,513,200 lbs. of wheat, and 1,164,800 of oats, in the year 1834; three others ground an aggregate of 543,000 lbs. of oatmeal: seven flax-mills worked up 4250 cwt. of flax and 1059 cwt. of tow: a brewery made 5200 barrels of beer, and two distilleries 208,800 gallons of spirits: two tanneries converted 5300 hides into leather: there were two limekilns, 1 brick-kiln, 2 rope-walks, 80 linen looms, 28 cotton looms, and 1 woollen loom at work: all these totals are the results of returns collected in that year, and are exclusive of the manufactures of the city, to which the commerce of the district is wholly confined: the salmon fishery gives employment to 232 persons.
The jurisdiction of the corporation of Londonderry extends over the whole parish, but in Culmore only by sufferance, that townland being the exclusive property of the Crown, and under the control of the governor of the fort. The condition of the peasantry in the low lands is comfortable, the dwellings neat, and orchards and kitchen gardens are frequently to be seen, attached to well-fenced farms of considerable extent and in good condition. In the mountain lands, which are much frequented on account of free turbary being granted with their cabins, the cottiers are very poor, and several of the farm houses are nearly as wretched as the huts of the labourers.
Three main roads from Londonderry to Greencastle, Lifford, and Letterkenny, intersect the parish: they are not kept in good order, and would admit of much improvement as to the line of direction: the cross roads and bye-roads are sufficiently numerous: there is a ferry across the mouth of the Foyle at Culmore, below the fort. It has long been contemplated to connect Loughs Foyle and Swilly by a canal; but though the distance be short, and the district through which the line would pass well adapted for it, a difficulty presents itself in the Swilly at the Burnfoot, which is separated from the Foyle by a neck of land only three miles broad, rising and falling at spring tides 18 feet, which is twice as much as at Londonderry, and therefore the surfaces of the loughs at high water stand at different levels.
The principal seats are The Farm, the property of Sir R. A. Ferguson, Bart.; Boom Hall, the property of the Earl of Caledon, and the residence of the Bishop of Derry; Brook Hall, remarkable for the beauty of its grounds, the property and residence of the Rt. Hon. Sir G. F. Hill, Bart.; Thorn Hill, of Captain Simeon; Ballinagard, of Captain Hart; Belmont, lately the residence of W. Miller, Esq., deceased; Troy or Troyvale Cottage, of Charles O'Doherty, Esq.; Foyle Hill, of W. Holland, Esq.; Milton Lodge, of Captain H. Lecky; Ballougry, of Captain McNeil; Green Haw House, of W. K. McClintock, Esq.; Mullennan, of R. Harvey, Esq.; Culmore Point, of A. McCausland, Esq.; Bellevue, of Hans Riddall, Esq.; Pennyburn, of A. Bond, Esq.; and Troy House, of J. Murray, Esq. The bishop's demesne, though it is not his residence, may be included under this head. Casina, erected by the late Earl of Bristol, is situated in the suburbs of the city, close to the bishop's garden, commanding a fine view of the river and the scenery on its opposite bank; although irregularly built, it presents a handsome front, and the principal apartment is decorated with paintings in chiaro-oscuro.
The living is a rectory, united by patent of James I. to the rectories of Faughanvale and Clondermott, forming together the corps of the deanery of Derry, in the patronage of the Crown: the tithes amount to £1607. 0. 1. The deanery-house was rebuilt in 1834, at an expense of £3330, provided out of the funds of the present incumbent, the whole of which will be chargeable on his successor: the glebe, containing 3 acres, is valued at £9. per ann.; the gross value of the benefice, tithe and glebe inclusive, amounts to £3224. 7. 11 ½. The cathedral of Londonderry is used as the parish church, and there are two other churches in the parish, the particulars of all which are given in the account of that city, which see. The old church was situated in the northern part of the parish, near Culmore fort.
The R. C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church; it is also the head of the diocese and the mensal of the Bishop. Besides the schools described in the article on the city, there is one at Ballougry, to which the Irish Society gives an annual grant of £30.; also four private schools, in all of which, including the city schools, there are about 500 boys and 450 girls; there are also 9 Sunday schools. In Ballinagard demesne, on the western bank of the Foyle, is a rath measuring 73 yards by 60; it is surrounded by a fosse and parapet, and is now covered with trees.
In Ballymagrorty there is a small cromlech, the table stone of which is 4 feet by 3; and on the summit of Holywell Hill are the remains of a cairn, about 40 feet in diameter, in the centre of which is a small pit, 3 feet square and 5 deep; the rock of the mountain forms its bottom, and it is called the Holy well, from a small pool of rain water being found in it, which is supposed to possess healing virtues. There are also two cairns of modern construction; one is called "Jenny's Cairn," from having been the spot where a young woman was murdered under very atrocious circumstances; the other, in the bed of a rivulet, is called the "Priest's Burn," from a tradition that a priest was killed on the spot.
The old church of Killea, in the townland of the same name, was one of the five chapels of ease to the mother church; its foundations still remain in a cemetery surrounded by an old stone wall. The church of Culmore, though a ruin, is of no great antiquity, having been built a short time before the war of 1688 and burnt by James's army, since which it has never been repaired: it was cruciform and consisted of a nave and transept; the walls are still entire, except at the western end.
The castle of Aileagh or Elagh, the property of W. McCorkell, Esq., now a small ruin, stands on a commanding eminence on the verge of the parish, about two miles from the more ancient fortress of the same name in the county of Donegal, formerly a royal castle. The forts of Culmore and Donnalong were erected by the English in the reign of Elizabeth or James I., to secure their newly acquired possession of Derry: the former, situated on a projecting point on the western bank of the Foyle, where it opens into the lough, was a small triangular fort with a bastion at each corner, and a square tower at the point next the river: though not occupied as a military station for upwards of a hundred years, a governor is still appointed to it. General Hart, the late governor, substantially repaired the tower, but the outworks are now nearly obliterated.
Donnalong, or Donolonge, which was a place of more importance, was built on the eastern bank of the Foyle, in the parish of Donagheady; there are no remains. Templemore gives the title of an English baron to a branch of the Chichester family.