View of Belfast Lough from Cave Hill

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume II, Chapter II

WE left Belfast for Larne, in company with Dr. Wall, of Dublin, on a rainy morning at daylight. Cowering under an umbrella, on an outside car, we felt that the promise for the day's enjoyment was a poor one; but we had scarce reached the base of Cave Hill, before the clouds broke away, and the chequered light thrown over the landscape through the flying clouds, was more favourable even than clear sunshine to the scenery. The view of BELFAST LOUGH from CAVE HILL is exceedingly fine, commanding, besides the whole of the Lough, the greater part of the Down county, and in clear weather the coast of Scotland. The fine sheet of water lying below the eye (the Vinderius of Ptolemy) is called, indiscriminately, the Bay of Carrickfergus and Belfast Lough. It is (says Curry's Guide to the County of Antrim, to which we are indebted for much information) about twelve miles long and five broad, measuring from Groomsport, in Down, to Whitehead, on the Antrim side. The breadth gradually diminishes from the entrance to the embouchure of the river Logan, and the channel, formerly very shallow near that place, has been so deepened by skilful management as to admit vessels which draw thirteen feet of water close to the wharfs. There is a deep pool, called Carmoyl or Garmoyl, about one mile from the south shore, opposite Hollywood, where vessels ride at low-water, when the bank within twenty yards is completely dry.

View of Belfast Lough

Belfast Lough

There are scarcely any rocks in this bay, except one reef on the north side (which is covered at high-water), called by the Irish the Briggs, i.e. the tombs; but by the Scotch the Clachan, from its resemblance to a village when uncovered at low-water. There is a shoal a little south-west of Carrickfergus, over which lie three fathoms of water at ebb-tide. The Speedwell, a Scotch ship, in King William's reign, was the only ship ever known to suffer on it. The Down coast is distinctly seen during the drive to Carrickfergus, and is beautifully diversified with seats and villages; of these the most important are Hollywood and Bangor, whose sites appear peculiarly well chosen. Near the latter town, at a little inlet called Groomsport Bay, the Duke Schomberg first cast anchor. At the entrance are seen the Copeland Isles, so called from a family of that name, who settled on the coast of Down in the twelfth century. After passing a few miles onward, by a range of fine villas, the town and castle of Carrickfergus are presented in the front field of the view. The latter is a bold and magnificent object, standing upon a reef of rocks projecting into the bay, by which means in this approach its outline is most clearly and strongly defined to the eye of the spectator. The shore near Carrickfergus is said to be particularly adapted for bathing, from its freedom from mud and ooze, and the cottages erected along the shore are let at high rents during the bathing-season. It was in the Bay of Carrickfergus that Paul Jones appeared in 1778, and, after a bloody engagement, captured the British sloop-of-war, Drake.