Britannia, by William Camden

The County of Antrim.

* Louth, C. Big T THE next County to * Down northward, is the County of Antrim, so call’d from Antrim, ⌈heretofore⌉ a small town, and only remarkable for giving name to the shire (which is bounded by the bay of Knock-Fergus,Knock-Fergus. the Lough Eaugh, and the river Ban.) ⌈But now Antrim is a considerable thriving Corporation, pleasantly situated on both sides of Six mile water, and united by a handsom Bridge, and adorn’d with a fine Park, and a stately Mansion-house belonging to the Lord Viscount Massareen. And the County also is populous and flourishing, being mostly inhabited by British Protestants.⌉ The ⌈fore-mentioned⌉ Bay of Knock-Fergus, that is called Vinderius in Ptolemy, took it’s name from a town situate upon it; which the English call Knock-Fergus, and the Irish Carig-Fergus, that is, the rock of Fergus, both from the famous Fergus drown’d there, who first brought the Scots out of Ireland into Britain. This town is more famous than any other upon the coast, by reason of a commodious harbour, and for its fortifications (though † † So said, ann. 1607.unfinish’d;) as also for its castle standing upon a high rock, with a garrison to keep the country in subjection, and an ancient Palace, now converted into a magazine. ⌈But now, Belfast at the bottom of the bay, is much more rich and populous, of greater Trade, and more frequented.⌉ Near Carrigfergus, lies Clane-boyClane-boy the Lower. the lower, inhabited likewise by the O-Neals, and memorable for the death of that wicked rebel Shan or John O-Neal; who, after a long course of Plunder and Rapine, was defeated in one or two Battles by Henry Sidney Lord Deputy, and reduc’d to such streights, that he was resolved to go and address himself to the Lord Deputy with a halter about his neck; but his Secretary perswaded him rather to seek assistance from those Island-Scots, who under the conduct of Alexander Oge were now encamped here, and ravaged the country. Accordingly, he went to them, and was kindly receiv’d; but was put to death soon after, with his whole party, for the slaughter which he had formerly made among their relations. The war being ended by his death, and he and all his men attainted; Queen Elizabeth bestow’d this Clane-boy upon Walter D’Evereux Earl of Essex, who came over hither; being sent, perhaps by means of some Courtiers, under a pretence of doing him honour (for he was made Governor of Ulster and Marshal of Ireland,) into a Country ever rebellious and ungovernable. The Earl endeavouring with great expence to compose affairs in these parts, and to reduce them to some order, he was at last, after many and great difficulties both at home and abroad, taken away in the flower of his Age, to the grief of all good men, and to the benefit of the O-Neals, and of Brian Carragh of the family of the Mac-Conells, who thereupon got possession of this territory, and have * * So said, ann. 1607.since been perpetually at war with one another about it. Near Knock-Fergus, lies a Peninsula join’d by a small neck of land to the continent, which is call’d the Isle of Magie,Isle of Magie. four miles in length, and one in breadth. Some suppose that the Monastery of Magio (so much commended by Bede, and which I have already mention’d in the County of Maio,) stood in this place.

Then, the Glinnes,Glinnes. that is, the Valleys, begin at Older-fleet, a dangerous road for ships; and run a great way by the sea-side. This territory belong’d formerly to the Bissets,Bissets. Noblemen of Scotland; who, making away Patrick Earl of Athol upon a private grudge, were banished hither, and (by the favour of Henry the third King of England) settl’d in an estate in this tract: For John Bisset, who died in the beginning of Edward the first, had a great estate here; and in Edward the second’s reign, Hugh Bisset forfeited part of it by his rebellion. In ¦ ¦ So said, ann. 1607.the last age, this was invaded by the † Scoto-Hiberni abactores.Irish-Scotch Rapparees, from Cantire and the Hebrides, under the conduct of James Mac Conell Lord of Cantire in Scotland, who claimed it as descended from the Bissets. But Shan O-Neal, having slain their Captain, easily repell’d them. Yet they return’d, and made cruel ravages in these parts; fomenting rebellions in the Kingdom, till John Perrot, Lord Deputy, † † Very lately, C.reduc’d, first Donall Goran (who was slain, together with his brother Alexander, in Conaught by Richard Bingham) and afterwards, Agnus Mac Conell, the sons of James Mac Conell, to such straits, that they submitted themselves to the Queen of England, and receiv’d this Country to hold of her by Knight’s service, on condition that they should bear arms in Ireland for none but the Kings of England, and should pay a certain number of Cows and Hawks yearly, &c.

Above these, as far as the river Bann, the Country is called Rowte,The Rowte. and * * Is, C.was inhabited by the Mac Guillies,Mac Guilly. a family of no small note among the Irish; but pent up in this narrow corner by the continual depredations of the Island-Scots. Surley-Boy, also Chairly-boy. For Surley-Boy, that is, Charles the yellow, brother to James Mac Conell who possess’d the Glinnes, did in a manner make himself master of all this tract; till John Perrot, the aforesaid Lord Deputy, having taken the castle of DonluseDonluse. (strongly situate upon a rock hanging out into the Sea, and severed from the land by a deep ditch,) drove out him and his party. However, the year following, he recover’d it by treachery; after he had slain Carie the Governour, who made a stout defence. Upon this, the Lord Deputy sent Meriman (an experienc’d Captain) against him, who cut off the two sons of James Mac Conell, with Alexander the son of Surley Boy; and pressed him so close (driving away his Cattle, the only riches he had, for he had fifty thousand Cows of his own stock,) that he surrender’d Donluse, and came to Dublin, and made a publick Submission in the Cathedral; petitioning for mercy. When he was, after this, admitted into the Governour’s Lodgings; as soon as he saw the Picture of Queen Elizabeth, he threw away his Sword, and fell down before it twice; thereby devoting himself entirely to Her Majesty’s Service. And, being received into favour and protection, among the other Subjects of Ireland, he abjur’d, both in the Chancery and Kings-Bench, all allegiance to any foreign Prince whatsoever, and, by the bounty of Queen Elizabeth, had four territories or Toughs (as they call them) from the river Boys to the Ban, bestow’d on him; namely, Donseverig, Loghill, and Ballamonyn, together with the government of Donluse-castle, to him and the heirs-male of his body, to hold of the Kings of England upon this condition, that neither he, nor his Dependants, nor any of his Posterity, should take up arms in behalf of any foreign Prince, without special Licence; and that they should restrain their Dependants from depredations, and find twelve horse and forty foot at their own charge for forty days together in time of War, and pay every year a certain number of oxen and hawks to the Kings of England, &c.

⌈The Rowte beforementioned is now the Estate of the Macdonells, who drove out the Mac-guillins, and who enjoy the honourable title of Earls of Antrim;Earl of Antrim. in which County also the family of Vaughan, have the title of Viscount Lisburn;Viscount Lisburn. and the Family of Conway are Barons of Killultagh.Killultagh.

causeway tessellationsPhil. Trans. N.212. and 241. at large. About eight miles north-east from Colrain, is a place called the Giants-Causway,Giants-Causway. consisting of many thousand Pillars, which stand most of them perpendicular to the Plain of the Horizon, and so close to one another that a knife can hardly be thrust in between them. They are, for the greatest part, Pentagonal or Hexagonal; and yet almost all irregular, none of their sides being of equal breadth. With regard to composition and figure, the Stones have been observed by persons of great skill and curiosity who have viewed them, to come near the Entrochos, and the Astroites, or Lapis Stellaris, and the nearest to the Lapis Basanus or Basaltes. The Causway is plainly the work of nature, and runs from the bottom of a high hill into the Sea, no one knows how far. At low-water, the length is about six hundred foot, if not more, the breadth, in the broadest place, two hundred and forty foot, and in the narrowest one hundred and twenty; the height, in some places, thirty six, and in others about fifteen foot.⌉

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06