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Clonfeacle Parish, Cos. Tyrone & Armagh, Northern Ireland: in 1837
Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland

Transcribed, Compiled and Submitted by
Len Swindley, Melbourne, Australia

CLONFEACLE, a parish, partly in the barony of ARMAGH, and partly in that of O’NEILLAND WEST, county of ARMAGH, but chiefly in the barony of DUNGANNON, county of TYRONE, and province of ULSTER, 5½ miles (N. N. W.) from Armagh; containing, with the districts of Derrygortrevy, Moy, and Blackwatertown, (each of which is separately described) 19,547 inhabitants. This place was distinguished at a very remote period as the seat of a religious establishment of great reputation, of which St. Lugud, or Lugaid, was abbot about the year 580. It was soon after vested in the Culdean monks, whose chief establishment in Ireland was at Armagh, and with it this house became united about the middle of the 10th century. The Culdees kept possession of the church, and several large tracts of land in the parish, till the Reformation, when the whole became forfeited to the Crown, and were granted by Jas. I., on the 13th of May, 1614, to Primate Hampton, and his successors forever, under the denomination of the “Termon, or Erenach lands of Clonfeicle,” together with the church and rectory, which latter has since passed from the Primate, and is now vested in the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin. During the Irish wars, and more especially in the rebellion of the Earl of Tyrone, this district was the scene of numerous sanguinary battles, the details of which are given in the article on Benburb. The parish is intersected by the river Blackwater, over which are several large and handsome stone bridges; and comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 26,218 statute acres, of which 21,582 are in Tyrone, and 4,636 in Armagh. The surface is diversified by several small and beautiful lakes, the principal of which is Lough Curran, on an artificial island in which have been discovered the remains of buildings and warlike and domestic implements; and near it is the old camp of the O’Nials, now Fort Magarrett. The land is chiefly arable: the soil is light but generally fertile, producing excellent crops; the system of agriculture is improved, and there is no waste land, except a tract of bog or marsh, about 400 acres in extent. Limestone and freestone abound in the parish: there are extensive and valuable limestone quarries at Benburb. The Ulster canal passes for three miles through the parish, on the Armagh or eastern side of the Blackwater. At Benburb a rock has been excavated to the depth of 86 feet, and the canal carried longitudinally over a mill-race for a very considerable distance, by a handsome aqueduct. The scenery is pleasingly diversified and beautifully picturesque; the glen through which the Blackwater flows is highly romantic, and the canal, when completed will add to the interest of the landscape. The principal seats are Dartrey Lodge, the residence of W. Olpherts, Esq.; the Argory, of W. McGeough Bond, Esq.; and Tullydoey, of J. Eyre Jackson, Esq., at which place is also the residence of T. Eyre, Esq. The weaving of linen is carried on extensively by the farmers and cottiers at their own dwellings; and at Tullydoey is an extensive bleach-green. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Armagh, and in the patronage of the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin: the tithes amount to £1,030. The glebe-house is a good building; the glebe comprises 532a. 3r. 17p. of good arable land. The church was destroyed during the rebellion of Tyrone, since which time the village of Clonfeacle has been neglected and now forms part of Blackwater-town; and, in the same rebellion, the church of Eglish was destroyed, and that parish has ever since been included in the parish of Clonfeacle. The present parish church is situated close to the village of Benburb, on the confines of the counties of Armagh and Tyrone; it was built by Sir R. Wingfield, in 1619, and repaired and enlarged in 1815, by a gift of £800 from the late Board of First Fruits; the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have recently granted £526. 11. towards its further repair. There are also a church at Moy and one at Derrygortrevy; the latter stands near the site of the old church of Eglish. In the R. C. divisions the parish is called Upper and Lower Clonfeacle, and includes the whole parish of Eglish; there are chapels at Eglish, Moy, and Blackwatertown. There is a place of worship at Benburb for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster of the second class; and one at Crew in connection with the Associate Synod: and at Blackwatertown is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. The parochial school, near the church at Benburb, was built in 1832, by the Rev. Henry Griffin, the present rector, by whom it is principally supported; there are also schools at Blackwatertown and Derrycrevy, and near the old churchyard at Clonfeacle is a national school. At Benburb, Gorestown, Drummond, Mullycarnan, and Carrowcolman, schools were built and are supported by funds arising from a bequest, by Lord Powerscourt, of £2,000 for charitable uses, and are conducted under the moral agency system. The sum of £4 per annum is paid to the poor of this parish from Drelincourt’s charity, and two children are eligible to the Drelincourt school at Armagh. A bequest of £100 was made to the poor by a person whose name is now unknown. The ruins of Benburb castle, situated on the summit of a limestone rock overhanging the river, have a very picturesque appearance; and near them was found a silver signet ring, bearing the arms and initials of Turlogh O’Nial, which is now in the possession of Mr. Bell, of Dungannon. Several interesting relics of antiquity have been found in various parts; a large well-formed canoe was found in the bed of the river at Blackwatertown, in 1826, and is now in the garden of C. Magee, Esq.; it is scooped out of an oak tree, and is in good preservation. The same gentleman has also some very perfect querns, an altar of rude construction, several stone hatchets, and the horns of an elk, which were found a few years since at Drumlee. At Tullydoey are some inconsiderable vestiges of an ancient fort.

BENBURB, or BINBURB, a small village, in the parish of CLONFEACLE, barony of DUNGANNON, county of TYRONE, and province of ULSTER, 5¾ miles (N. N. W.) from Armagh: the population is returned with the parish. The first notice of this place under its present name occurs during the rebellion of the Earl of Tyrone, when the Lord-Deputy Boroughs crossed the river Blackwater at Bean-Bhorb, at the head of the English forces, in June 1597; and being seized with a sickness of which he died a few days after at Newry, was succeeded in the command of the army by the Earl of Kildare, between whom and the Earl of Tyrone a severe engagement took place, in which the English were defeated, the Earl of Kildare mortally wounded, and his two foster brothers slain; many of the English were killed in battle, and numbers perished in the river. Sir Henry Bagnall, with 4,500 foot and 400 horse, marched against the Earl of Tyrone’s army, with which he had a severe conflict; many of the English cavalry were dreadfully mangled by falling into pits dug by the enemy and covered with branches of trees; but after surmounting these and other obstacles, Bagnall made a vigorous attack upon the right wing of the Irish army commanded by the earl himself, and on the left under O’Donnell of Tyrconnell; a dreadful carnage ensued, the two armies being wholly engaged; but just when victory seemed to incline towards the English forces, Bagnall was shot by a musket ball in the forehead and fell dead on the field. The English, thrown into confusion by the loss of their leader, were defeated, and in their retreat to Armagh, many were trodden down by the Irish cavalry. This triumph of Tyrone was but of short duration; the Lord-Deputy Mountjoy defeated him in several battles, and had driven him back to the camp at Bean-Bhorb, where, on the 15th of July, 1601, a battle was fought, in which Tyrone was totally defeated and his army compelled to retreat in confusion to his chief fortress at Dungannon. On the plantation of Ulster, Sir Robert Wingfield received from James I a grant of 1000 acres of land at Benburb, by a deed dated Dec. 3rd, in the 8th year of that monarch’s reign; and previously to the year 1619 he had erected a castle on these lands, built the present church, and founded the village, which at that time contained 20 houses. This, new, establishment continued to flourish till the breaking out of the war in 1641, when the castle was surprised by order of Sir Phelim O’Nial, on the night of the 22nd of October, and the whole of the inmates put to death. On the 5th of June, 1646, this place became the scene of a battle between, Sir Phelim O’Nial and, Gen. Monroe; the former, with a large body of men, took up, a position between two hills, with a wood in his rear and the river Black water, at that time difficult to pass, on his right. Monroe, with 6,000 foot and 800 horse, marched from Armagh and approached by the opposite bank of the river, where, finding a ford, now, called, Battleford Bridge, he crossed and advanced to meet O’Nial. Both armies were drawn up in order of battle, but instead of coming to a general engagement, the day was spent in skirmishing, till the sun, which had been favourable to the British, was declining, when, just as Monroe was beginning to retreat, he was attacked by the Irish, who made a furious onset. An English regiment commanded by Lord Blayney fought with undaunted resolution till they were cut to, pieces and their leader, slain; the Scottish horse next gave way, and the infantry being thrown into disorder, a general rout ensued. More than 3,000 of the British forces were slain and their artillery and stores taken, while, on the part of O’Nial, not more than 70 were killed. The castle was soon after dismantled, and has ever since remained in ruins; it was the largest in the county, and, though weakly built, occupies a remarkably, strong, position on the summit of a limestone rock rising perpendicularly from the river Blackwater to the height of 120 feet. In the village is a small ancient out-post strongly built and probably forming an entrance to the castle, which on every other side was defended by natural barriers. Near the village are Tullydoey, the seat of J. Eyre Jackson, Esq., where, also, is, the, residence of T. Eyre, Esq.; and Castle Cottage,, of, Capt. Cranfield. There, were formerly very extensive bleach-greens near the village, and the mills and engines are still remaining; but the principal part of the business is carried on at Tullydoey, where large quantities of linen are finished for the English markets, the weaving of linen is also carried on to some extent. The Ulster canal, now in progress, passes on the eastern side of the river and village, and is here carried through a hill of limestone, which has been excavated to the depth of 80 feet, and is conducted longitudinally over, the mill-race by an aqueduct of considerable length. A court is held on the first Friday in every month for the manor of Benburb, which extends over 47 townlands and comprises 9210 acres, for the recovery of debts not exceeding £2. The parish church is situated close to the village, in which is also a place of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster. The ruins of the castle are extensive and highly picturesque; and near the walls was found a signet ring bearing the arms and initials of Turlogh O’Nial, which is now in the possession of Mr. Bell, of Dungannon. The O’Nials had a stronghold here of greater antiquity than the castle erected by Sir R. Wingfield.

MOY, a market and post-town, and an ecclesiastical district, partly in the barony of ONEILLAND WEST, county of ARMAGH, but chiefly in that of DUNGANNON, county of TYRONE, and province of ULSTER, 5¼ miles (N.) from Armagh, and 71¼ (N. by W.) from Dublin, on the mail coach road from Armagh to Dungannon; containing 6,646 inhabitants, of which number, 902 are in the town. This place, commanding the chief pass of the river Blackwater, was a post of considerable importance during the wars in the reign of Elizabeth, and its intimate connection with Charlemont rendered it in succeeding reigns a station of much interest to the contending parties. The town is situated on the western bank of the Blackwater, over which is a bridge connecting it with the ancient borough of Charlemont; it consists principally of a square, or market-place, and one steep street, containing 172 houses, several of which are neatly built, and most are of modern character. A considerable trade in corn, timber, coal, slate, iron, and salt is carried on by means of the river Blackwater, which is navigable for vessels of 100 tons burden; and there are extensive bleach-greens near the town, where great quantities of linen are annually finished for the English market. The weaving of linen is also carried on to some extent, and there are several small potteries for earthenware of the coarser kind; but the inhabitants are chiefly employed in the trade of the river, and in agriculture. The Ulster canal, now in progress, passes through the parish and falls into the Blackwater a little below the town. The market, which has been recently established, is on Friday, and is well supplied with grain and provisions of all kinds; and fairs for live stock are held on the first Friday in every month, and are numerously attended, especially by horse-dealers. A very commodious market-house and a spacious market-place have been constructed by the Earl of Charlemont, who is the proprietor of the town. A constabulary police force has been stationed here; petty sessions are held on alternate Mondays; and a court for the manor of Charlemont and Moy, which has extensive jurisdiction in the counties of Armagh and Tyrone, is held occasionally by the seneschal. The district parish was constituted in 1819, by separating 33 townlands from the parish of Clonfeacle, of which 27 are in the county of Tyrone, and 6 in the county of Armagh. The land, though of a light and gravelly nature, is productive under a good system of agriculture. Limestone is found in abundance and quarried for manure; sandstone, basalt and whinstone are found here alternating; and there are indications of coal in several places. In the vicinity of Grange fossil fish have been found in red sandstone, a fine specimen of one of which has been deposited in the museum of the Geological Society, London. The lands westward of the Blackwater are extremely fertile. There are several handsome seats, of which the principal are Argory, the residence of W. McGeough Bond, Esq.; the Grange, of Miss Thompson; and Grange Park, of H. H. Handcock, Esq. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the diocese of Armagh, and in the patronage of the Rector of Clonfeacle; the stipend is £100 per annum, of which £75 is paid by the rector, and £25 from Primate Boulter’s augmentation fund. The glebe-house, towards which the late Board of First Fruits contributed a gift of £450 and a loan of £50, was built in 1820; and there are about 2 roods of glebe. The church, a small neat edifice in the early English style, with a square tower, was built in 1819, at an expense of £1569, of which £900 was a gift and £500 a loan from the same Board. In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union of Clonfeacle; the chapel is a large and handsome edifice, recently erected. There are places of worship for the Society of Friends, Independents, and Wesleyan Methodists. About 300 children are taught in eight public schools, of which an infants’ and a female school at Roxborough House are wholly supported by Lady Charlemont; an infants’ and a female school at Argory were built and are supported by Mrs. McGeough Bond; a school for girls at Grange by Miss Thompson, and two at Goretown and Drummond by funds bequeathed by the late Lord Powerscourt.