RANDALSTOWN, a market and post-town (formerly a parliamentary borough), in the parish of DRUMMAUL, barony of UPPER TOOME, county of ANTRIM, and province of ULSTER, 17 ¼ miles (N. W. by W.) from Belfast, and 97 ¼ (N.) from Dublin, at the junction of the mail coach roads from Coleraine and Magherafelt to Belfast; containing 618 inhabitants. This place, which is situated on the river Maine, was from that circumstance called Mainwater, and also Iron-Works, from the forges and furnaces formerly in extensive operation, and of which there are still some remains. In the war of the Revolution the town was the head-quarters of the Earl of Antrim's forces, who marched hence for the siege of Londonderry; and in the disturbances of 1793, a body of the insurgent forces attacked it, burned the market-house, and continued their devastations till the approach of Cols. Clavering and Durham, on the evening of the same day, when they retreated to Toome bridge. In 1683, Charles II., in consideration of a fine of £200, granted to Rose, Marchioness of Antrim, the manor of Edenduffcarrick, with all its rights and privileges, and constituted the town of Iron-Works a free borough, with power to return two members to parliament, to be chosen by the majority of the inhabitants, on precept to the seneschal of the manor issued by the sheriffs of Antrim. The borough continued to return two members till the Union, when the franchise was abolished.

The town is pleasantly situated on the western bank of the river Maine, over which is a handsome bridge of nine arches, and contains 113 houses, neatly built and of pleasing appearance. The barracks for the staff of the county militia, whose head-quarters and depot are here, are well built; there is a good inn near the bridge. The chief trade is the spinning of cotton and the weaving of calico, for which there are extensive mills; in these, more than 600 persons are employed; and there is a large bleach-green. The market is on Wednesday and is abundantly supplied with wheat, flour, meal, and pork, great quantities of wheat and pork being sent to Belfast; there is also a market for linen and linen yarn on the first Wednesday in every month; and fairs are held on July 16th and Nov. 1st, chiefly for cattle and pigs. The market-house, in which are an assembly-room and rooms for holding the various courts, is a neat and well-arranged building. There is a constabulary police station in the town, and petty sessions are held on alternate Thursdays. A court baron for the manor, which is the property of Earl O'Neill, is held before the seneschal every month, at which debts not exceeding £20 are recoverable; and a court leet annually, at which a weigh-master, a market jury and constables are appointed, and some small presentments made for the repair of the court-house and other purposes.

The parish church, a handsome structure in the early English style, with an octagonal spire, is situated in the town; in which are also a spacious and well-built R. C. chapel, two Presbyterian places of worship, and a dispensary. In the immediate vicinity is Shane's Castle, park, and demesne, the property, and, previously to the destruction of the mansion by an accidental fire in 1816, the residence of Earl O'Neill, which is noticed more particularly in the article on Drummaul.

Search Topographical Dictionary of Ireland »