One of a series of pamphlets by Robert McCahan first published in 1923
HISTORY OF BALLYCASTLE.
Oh ! where in all our pleasant isle
Of far-famed beauty, richer gleams
Fair charms than those which sweetly smile
On Ballycastle's shores and streams?
This seaside town has a population of 1,485 inhabitants, and rests partly on the western slope of Glentow, where the Glen opens on the coast, and partly along the western side of the Bay. It may be reached from Belfast or Londonderry by the Midland Railway to Ballymoney, and from thence by a seperate railway to Ballycastle, about sixteen miles distant.
The town is modern, and the plainness in the design of many of its buildings is redeemed by the foliage of the grand old trees along the Quay Road and in the Glen as well. On this account the town has a sylvan and a more attractive appearance, and is very unlike the treelessness associated with many seaside resorts. The beauty of surrounding Nature and its association with some interesting historic events are the ruling factors in portraying a landscape of more than ordinary interest to those who are acquainted with and who sojourn at this pleasant, peaceful, and quiet seaside resort during their summer holidays. No matter where the eye rests, whether on the sea, on the islands and distant coast, on the majestic cliffs, or along the moors, and glens and hills, there is ever the same ineffable beauty to charm the eye and attract the sense of artistic loveliness in a mind trained to appreciate and to love everything that appears beautiful in the realm of Nature.
The district is celebrated for the great natural beauty of the scenery comprising the romantic part known as the Glens of Antrim, also a wide sweep of green hills and moors along the east from Knocklayd mountain, dignified in its solitary grandeur to Fair Head, the elegance of its massive form never wearying the eye as it proudly looks over the billowy ocean heaving sullenly along its sea-girt base. The long and rocky coast of Rathlin Island, about six miles distant, and the still more distant outline of the Scottish coast, also bold in character, give the Bay a far more beautiful effect which it would not have if these were absent and the vast space of the ocean was seen spreading to the horizon.
How beautiful the closing Scene, as Rathlin's lonely isle,
From chalky cliffs and corn fields green reflected evening's smile,
A peaceful calm, a golden light, was shed the waters o'er,
And silently the mighty deep lay stretch'd from shore to shore.
-REV. GEORGE HILL
Then looking westward is a line of hoary and precipitous cliffs from the White Rocks at the Quay to the white form of Kenbann Head, which rises nobly and stately from the ever-restless ocean about three miles distant. The shining sand where the narrow beach of the wave-beat shore extends with a gentle curve for almost half-a-mile to the Pans Rock without any rocks to mar its beauty beyond which is a rocky coast to Fair Head is fairer than a low surface of jagged and uneven rocks.
Near the ladies' bathing-place at the Pans are two detached rocks of sandstone close together, the nearer of which is about ten yards from the shore, and has a full-sized carved human face with a sad expression and lips slightly open. It was cut by the late Charles Darragh about the year 1890. There is a fanciful story that it was the work of an artist as a tribute of respect and a memorial to his wife who was drowned there, and which has no foundation.
Neither in the town nor in the district are any of those quaint mediaeval houses, their walls mellowed by age, which are so picturesque in other countries. But instead there is a bright touch of novelty in this region of glens and moors, and there is compensation in the pleasing wealth of colour as the flowers unfold in summer, or when the rich tints of autumn appear on the woodland and along the hedges, with all those varying shades of gold, brown, crimson, and russet on the foliage.
Oh, Autumn! why so soon
Depart the hues that make thy forests glad.
Thy gentle wind and thy sunny noon,
And leave thee wild and sad!
Again, how fascinating are the sunset fires glowing in a gorgeous western sky ere they gradually fade before a luminous twilight lingering amid the Glens. Or when the moon slowly moves in her upward path on the eastern sky from behind some clouds around whose ragged edges is the trace of a saffron or a yellowish-grey tinge, and gradually changing her crimson to a mellow golden hue bathes the landscape with a flood of silvery light. Sometimes a pale and spectral light gives a weird effect to the deep recesses and the distant hillside. But again there is the beauty of the moonlight as she arises near the headland, with the narrow path of her silvery light tracing itself on the darker and rippling surface of the deep; or when the gently swelling waves of the Bay are flashing like a jewel in a great sheen of softened light. Then how pleasing is the distant and changeful music of the waves as they roll along the beach on a still evening, but louder and more sullen on a frosty night.
Thou art sounding on, thou mighty sea,
For ever and the same!
The ancient rocks yet ring to thee,
Whose thunders nought can tame.
There is another element which makes this district of great interest, and that is its association with important events in the romantic history of a great historic past. On many a cliff where the sea birds career in their graceful flight are the mouldering walls of a castle or, perhaps all the walls have disappeared, the memory of whose occupants is now unknown save where a few appear clearly like bright stars shining as diamonds in the firmament who were prominently identified with some local event in their day and generation. The MacDonnells, who erected these old castles, with their narrow stairs, thick walls, and arched Vaults, had the same object as those Highland chiefs with their grim fortresses on the sea cliffs among the Hebridean Isles, and which was that the ocean was the great highway for intercourse among the Isles, and they also served as a safe refuge and a home during hostile times.
But to return from the thought of those distant years to the present time summer visitors can always have healthy outdoor amusement on the golf links at the Warren overlooking the Bay, with the sound of the restless ocean ever near. There are also tennis courts on the inner dock of the old harbour, with croquet and bowls. Anglers can have plenty of enjoyment practising their art along the seashore, on the rivers flowing through the Glens, on the lakes at Fair Head, or on the river Bush at Stranocum, at Armoy, and at Bushmills. The little town is in a favourable position where Nature in every aspect can be admired either in the glen, on the moorland waste, on the sweeping slopes of the hills, on the mountain tops, or along that wild and rugged cliff coast overlooking the wild and heaving ocean.
Oh! Ballycastle! famed of old
What other spot can with thee vie;
And while fond memory feebly tries
To paint the scenes which round thee dwell,
On fancy's wings my spirit flies,
And roams again each wood and dell."
The soft murmuring voice of the rivulet along the glen and the musical notes of bird life from the woodland have a soothing influence on the thoughts like that formed by listening to the old songs so full of richness in the glowing imagination of romance and of the common events in daily life.
The sylvan beauty of the town is due to some of the former members of the Boyd family, who planted the trees along the Quay Road and in the Glen as well. We would suggest that the trees should become vested in the Council, with the power of planting additional trees in vacant spaces along the Quay Road. Also that the erection of buildings along the unbuilt portion of the south side of the Quay Road should cease for ever so as to preserve the trees which still remain, the view of the lower part of the Glen and the leafy foliage, for its exquisite sylvan beauty.
Those fine old trees are just the same,
As they were long years ago,
Though many a summer's sun they're seen,
And many a winter's snow.
And full long they've listened to the sound
Of the angry surging seas;
And waved their boughs in unison,
Those dear old Quay Road trees.
Beneath their graceful arch
And many a tearful mourner
On their sad and silent march.
Others, perchance, may gaze on them,
And have such thoughts as these
But they cannot love, as we have loved
Those dear old Quay Road trees.
-M. E. A. D.
It would be advisable for no houses to be built along the lower or eastern side of the new road from the Post Office, and instead a row of larch and other trees should be planted along that side of the roadway. This would preserve a delightful and an uninterrupted view of the hilly country from Knocklayd, and the range of the Carey hills to Fair Head. The outer dock of the old harbour is most unsightly in its present ruinous condition. It should be taken over by the Council, enclosed by a wall facing the sea, raised to a higher level, and maintained as a public park as an additional attraction to the town.
The real essence of a well-spent holiday is to lay aside for the time all the little worries and the perplexities of life. With a placid, receptive, and contented mind visitors will experience real enjoyment and pleasure at Ballycastle as a centre for visiting the famous and beautiful Glens of Antrim, Fair Head, Murlough Bay, Knocklayd, Kenbann Head, Ballintoy, Carrick-a-Eede, Giant's Causeway, Dunluce Castle, and Rathlin Island. Or they may wander with ease and perfect contentment along the lanes of the countryside, or along the cliffs listening to the old and the ever varying music of the waves, or over the heathery hills and moor-lands.
Oh. Erin, my country! I love thy green bowers,
No music's to me like thy murmuring rills;
Thy shamrock to me is the fairest of flowers,
And nought is more dear than thy daisy-clad hills;
Thy caves, whether used by thy warriors or sages,
Are still sacred held in each Irishman's heart,
And thy ivy~crowned turrets, the pride of past ages,
Though mouldering in ruin, do grandeur impart.
The district is also interesting to those who have some knowledge of Geology and Natural History. And it might he worthy to mention the fact that fine specimens of the Red Admiral Butterfly, about 2 3/4 inches across the wings, and the Death's Read Hawk Moth, 4 1/2 inches across the wings, were recently captured at Ballycastle, and are in the cabinet of a local collector which contains a very large and most charmirig collection of foreign and British butterflies and moths. The former is the most beautiful and the latter the largest of British Lepidoptera, and with one exception-the Peacock Moth-is the largest in Europe.
On the evening of Sunday, June 5th, 1921, when returning from a visit to the new mine at Portnaloub, near Carrickmore, the never silent sea was calm and the sun was shining brilliantly on his onward western path to the horizon. Suddenly we noticed in a little inlet on a line with the sun, and near the White Mine, the surface of the ocean as if it were thickly strewn with diamonds glistening and sparkling far far brighter than the starry heavens on the clearest night of winter. Along with these there seemed descending obliquely broken and silvery threads of light about 10 yards in length above the ocean's surface, and which were always quickly disappearing. It was a shoal of sand eels or herring fry playing on the surface, and their silvery and shining skin caught and reflected the rays with sparkling brilliance and a richer lustre of light. In a few minutes the phenomenon passed away, but it was the. most charming picture of a seascape which leaves an impression that time can never efface.
From the deed granted in 1612 to Hugh MacNeill, of Dunananie Castle, it would appear that Claricashan was the old name for the lands on which Ballycastle is built, and is derived from the ancient Irish name Baile or fortified residence; and that Portbrittes was the name for the landing place at the Quay. This structure was removed, and on its site a Castle was erected about 1564 by Sorley Boy MacDonnell, and which with the adjacent Castle at Dunananie were his two favourite residences on the coast.
On May 1st, 1565, Shane O'Neill occupied the Castle after his defeat of the Scots in Glentow at a place in the Glen about a mile distant, and it was here the captured officers were confined on the night after the battle. It was here that Shane wrote a description of the battle, in which he stated that he had entered " without opposition to the town of Somhairle; which is named Baile Caishlein," and he dates this letter " from the town of Somhairle, called Baile Caislein." Shane mentions it by the Irish name, but his secretary, Gerot Flemynge, who also wrote a description of the battle, calls it " Nyw Castell in the Root, Sanhirly Boy his towne," and speaks of it again as " Nyw Castell." There is no evidence that Shane or any of his military force defaced either of these two Castles, so that they must have been left in the same condition as they were on his arrival.
This building was removed by Sir Randal MacDonnell, first Earl of Antrim, and in 1625 he erected a more commodious Castle on its site which served for the barony of Carey, as there was a clause in the grant of the estate from the Government that he was to erect a Castle in each of the four baronies. After his death, on December 6th, 1636, the Countess continued to reside in the Castle until the Civil War of 1641, when owing to the presence of the Royalist troops she sought protection from Sir Phelim O'Neill, in County Derry.
By his will the Earl bequeathed to the Countess lands corresponding to the parishes of Ramoan, Culfeightrin, and the Grange of Drumtullagh for her life; and also "I doe give and bequeath all my furniture and household stuffe of my house in Balle Castle to my wife Dame Ellis nee Neile, together with all my linnings, and the one halfe of all my silver plate, both cupps, dishes, and trenchers, and all other silver plate, also remaine for her dureing her naturall life, and, after her death, to be left with my second sonn, Allexand McDonell."
In 1637 there was an arrangement between the Countess and her son, Randal, second Earl, afterwards created first Marquis of Antrim, by which the Earl "did graunt unto his said mother, the Countess of Antrim, twelve hundred pounds a yeare to be issueing out of that part of the prmisses, limited and appointed to her, and to himself, as aforesaid, for and in liewe of her said joynture, and of her thirds, and Dower of the said late Earle of Antrim's Estate, which Rent charge she did accept, and accordingly injoyed for some yeares after, untill the Rebellion broke out."
After the battle of the Laney, a party of the Irish force came over and occupied the Castle, and during this time the Countess was visited on several occasions by Alaster MacDonnell and James M'Henry, who were prominent leaders on the Irish side. Henry O'Hagan, when describing the state of affairs said "that he did not see or know of any murdered at Ballycastle but one Jennett Speir, who was killed on the backside of the said Countesses stable, neare the castel, but by whom he knows not." From this statement it is evident that she was the only person killed in Ballycastle, and her death does not appear to have had any connection with the Civil War.
The Castle was occupied in July, 1642, by a garrison drawn from some of the Marquis of Argyle's regiment and placed there by Major-General Monro, commander of the Scottish army, who had captured Dunluce Castle, and arrived at Ballycastle about the 20th, where he remained for the day, proceeding thence to Glenarm.
The Countess was in Limerick on the 9th of September of the following year, and was so destitute that she had to obtain an advance of £20 on her "2 rings, a cross, and a jewell of gould inlayed with rubies and dyamonds." In a letter to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Stewart, dated May 7th, 1661, the Countess says:
"I hope you will strive to get my old dwelling, Ballycastle, to me again. I fear if Mr. Stewart leave the barony I shall hardly get it with good-will." Dr. Ralph Kinge was in possession of the Castle and lands, and in 1663 Archibald Stewart, agent of the Antrim property, tried to force him to give up possession without success, but he must have surrendered his claim, as the estates were restored in 1665 to Alexander, third Earl of Antrim.
The Countess was alive in 1663, and was then about 80 years of age. The Countess lived occasionally in the neighbourhood, but it is doubtful if she occupied the Castle for any length of time after 1643, although she often desired to spend the remainder of her years within its walls in peaceful retirement and among her tenants, who respected her, and also surrounded by the romantic and beautiful scenery to which she had become greatly attached.
The site of the Castle is partly on the south-west angle of the ground enclosed at the church and partly on the site of a dwelling-house belonging to the late John O'Hara at the corner of the Poor Row, a narrow street from the Diamond to the Railway Station. The Castle was a large square structure with battlements and turrets in the Scottish style of architecture.
About 1852 Charles Kirkpatrick, of Whitehall, agent of the Boyd estate, applied to the then Earl of Antrim for permission to have the ruins removed, as it was represented to be in a dangerous condition. Leave was granted, and in July, 1855, John Johnson, a stone mason, received £10 under an order of the Court of Chancery for its removal. One part of the ruin was 10 feet in height and the wall six feet thick, and for a fortnight he was engaged on the work. Its site was granted to John O'Hara for a dwelling-house, and about six feet in front of the house which he erected was a weighbridge, removed in 1858 when the market yard was built, and for this site he received a deed at a separate rent.
THE GLASS WORKS.
The site where these works were erected was close to the east side of the inner dock of the old harbour and near the wooden foot bridge crossing the Mairge river, and the plot of ground on which they stood has always been known as the Glass Island. It was a large circular building about 90 feet in height, built with brick made from clay obtained on Millar's farm at Brackney in Glenshesk, with a narrowing circumference until at its summit the opening was about six feet. The date of its erection -1755 - was formed by projecting bricks on its west side, about midway from the top of the building. In 1755 a petition was sent by Jackson Wray, Esq., Lawrence Cruise, Esq., and James Urch, merchant, to the Irish House of Commons for a grant to assist in establishing the manufacture of glass, and after an inquiry a small grant was sanctioned in the following year.
The earliest reference to these works of which we are aware is the following entry in an old linen account book which belonged to the late Hugh Boyd, who promoted the harbour:-" Mr. Jno. Megawley To Linn for 16 3/4 at 16 1/2 p. yd. note for the use of three of the glass house men mentioned in s d note £1 3s 0 1/2d paid in full ye 20th July, 1756."
There is in existence a copy of the balance sheet for the years 1761, 1762, and 1763, and John McGawley was the manager of the Glasshouse Co. (represented by Hugh Boyd). The rent charged on the Glass House was £36 per annum, and the company paid the same rent for a yard in Dublin in 1761, which must have been vacated, as it does not appear in the accounts again. The sales of bottles in 1761 amounted to £894 5s 10d; in 1762 62 to £859 14s 2d; and in 1763 to £1578 14s 1d. There was no profit on the business, as the balance due by the company in 1760 was £230 7s 6d, and this had been reduced until in 1763 it amounted to £76 l6s 4 1/2d. In 1763 the coal bill was £433 16s l0d; the soap waste, etc., £80 0s 2 1/2d; the disbursements, £1,260 3s 11 1/2d; and the total amount on the balance sheet for 1763 is £2,603 15s 8d. In 1762 there was an account, £10 4s 11 1/2d, for clay brought from Fair Head. The names of two workers, Richard Johnson and James Hill, are mentioned in 1762 and 1763; and iron and deals were purchased from Mr. John Boyd, a trader in Ballycastle, whose name appears in all the accounts. In 1761 £5 l0s was paid on the freight of two cargoes of soap waste, and in all the accounts there is an entry £5 "for the mule."
From this document it is evident that bottles were only manufactured at these works, and among the old people it was known as the bottle house. There is no evidence that any fine and clear cut crystal glass with its beautiful and shimmering rainbow colour reflected from a smooth and shining surface was manufactured such as was produced at Waterford, at Cork, or in England. Nor is there any method to identify the glass, as the company never used a stamp, although there are some pieces of marked glass from Belfast, Cork, Dublin, and Waterford, and which were formed by blowing the glass into a mould bearing the name of the factory, and these pieces of old flint or lead glass were usually produced from a different pot of glass.
The greatest difficulty in the production of clear glass is the presence of some of the oxides of iron in some of the materials, and the smallest quantity of iron will colour the glass and render it useless. For this reason sand was imported from France and Belgium, but recent investigations prove that there is suitable sand in England and in Ireland. The iron forms a natural greenish tint, and by adding oxide of manganese a red colour is produced, and by adding other materials various colours can be formed whenever they are required. Light has a very curious effect on glass. Thus in very old glass which contained such elements as arsenic, or iron, or manganese, the light has acted in such a manner as to change the glass originally white into a dark brown or purple or even a pinkish tint.
There is a tradition that there were six glass blowers employed in the works, one of whom, named Lochy Black, was a native of Rathlin Island. John Magawly mentioned in the document was not a native of Ballycastle, but he was the owner of two houses at the Quay now occupied by Miss Black and the Marine Hotel Company, Ltd., who have recently purchased the late Miss Gage's house. His grandson, Dick Magawly, lived in one of these houses, and rented a small farm near Drumahammond bridge, and worked the coal mines for a few years.
Hugh Boyd, who died in June, 1765, by his will, dated December 6th, 1762, made the following arrangement by which the Glass Works were always to have a full supply of coal and at a fixed price :-" Provided also and it is my will and intention that all and singular the said Collrs. shall stand charged and charge-able for the term of 199 years from my death with £50 tons of coals monthly to be delivered in every calendar month during the said term at the Glass House situate near Ballycastle Harbour to the person or his order who shall for the time being be entitled to the immediate occupation of said Glass House, at the price of five shillings and sixpence per ton for the first twenty-one years, and at the price of six shillings per ton for the residue of said term. The first monthly delivery thereof (being 250 tons) to be compleated within one calendar month next after my death. And if it shall happen that any monthly delivery of said coals shall be in arrear and unmade in the whole or in part by the space of one day next after the expiration of the time within which the same ought to have been made as aforesaid that then and so often it shall and may be lawful to and for the person and persons who shall for the time being be entitled to the immediate occupation of the sd Glass House and his and their servants with horses and carriages to resort to all or any of the banks, shafts, drifts, or waggon ways of all and singular the said Collrs. and seize, take, and carry away to his and their own use of the coals there found the full quantity so in arrear without paying any money or other consideration for the same."
Hugh Boyd bequeathed the quarterland of Mosside and also the Glass House to his grandson, Ezekiel Boyd, for life with power to charge the property with a sum not exceeding £1,500 "for portions for his younger children." The following is the reference to the Glass House in his will:-" Also the said Glass House, situate near Ballycastle Harbour, together with the offices, houses, and yards belonging thereto or employed in carrying the business thereof and the house adjacent thereto inhabited by workmen belonging to said Glass House together with all rights, easements, privileges, and appurtenances belonging to said Glass House."
It is probable that the house mentioned as being occupied by workmen was the two-storey dwelling-house which stood for several years after the Glass House was destroyed about the year 1882, and which was occupied by James McAulay, shoemaker, on whose death about the year 1890 it was pulled down; and prior to James McAulay's tenancy it was occupied by a carpenter named George Douglas.
The following extract from the will refers to some bequests : - "I give and bequeath to Hugh Harrison, son of the Rev. Michael Harrison, and my godson, William Hill, son of the Rev. Mr. Robert Hill, the sum of £10 each, and to Mr. Edmund M'Gildowny, of Ballynaglogh; Mr. John Magawly and Mr. John Boyd, both of Ballycastle; Martin Houston, of the city of Dublin; Mr. John Crawford, of Ballycastle colleiary; James Moore, of the Ballycastle salt works; and John Roy, my out Stewart, £10 a piece on account of their long and faithful services to buy mourning."
The Rev. Michael Harrison, who was vicar of the parishes of Ramoan and Culfeightrin, died in 1765, and was interred in the old graveyard at Ramoan. There is a tablet to his memory which was formerly in the old church, and is now in the parish church. John Magawly and John Boyd are mentioned in the statement of accounts from 1761 to 1763. The following entry in the account for 1761 refers to Mr. Martin Houston:-" By cash paid in Dub. by Mr. Houston to Glass-men and their wives wch they allowed out of their wages - charged by Houston to H. B., Esq., £7 13s 3 1/2d." It is probable that Martin Houston was engaged in the glass and china business in Dublin, and these payments were advanced to defray the cost of sending the workmen with their families from Dublin to Ballycastle. The Rev. Robert Hill was vicar of Ramoan and Culfeightrin for several years, and on a rearrangement of parishes he surrendered the former, and was appointed to Culfeightrin.
We are unable to state definitely when the manufacture of glass ceased, but it must have been within a few years from Hugh Boyd's death, as there was none manufactured after 1784, and indeed the same thing occurred to all the industries established by him. It is said that a ship with a full cargo of glass arrived at Belfast in 1782, and if that be so it must have been the remainder of the stock of Ballycastle glass after the works were closed.
In very early times bottles were formed from the skins of animals, and these were succeeded by bottles made from stone, ivory, alabaster, porcelain, and glass. Coloured glass beads used as gems have been discovered in Egyptian tombs, and it seems probable that coloured glass was produced in Egypt for the first time. In the ruins of Pompeii, destroyed on August 24th. 79, there was discovered a blue glass vase with a design in white relief on a blue ground of the vintage with twining leaves and clusters of grapes. In the eleventh century pieces of coloured glass embedded in plaster were used for the decoration of windows. Beautifully designed stained glass windows were produced by a number of Venetian glass workers who bad settled at Limoges in France, and these were placed in many churches. In the twelfth century another design was adopted known as the Grisaille pattern, consisting of white glass ornamented with dark lines, replacing coloured glass in the windows of some of the monastic orders.
The motif of the old Irish artists in glass was the usual Celtic ornamentation, and there was scarcely anything of a figurative nature in their work. The earliest glass bottles produced about the year B.C. 1400 were formed on a core of clay or sandy paste attached to a rod and placed in the molten glass, and when it had become cold the core was removed. The discovery of the blow pipe by which the bottles were blown into moulds increased the production of glass. About the commencement of the Christian era the glass industry throughout the Roman Empire was in a very prosperous condition.
About the middle of the thirteenth century glass commenced to be manufactured in England, and as these factories depended on wood for their fuel they were erected in those country districts where wood was easily procurable. By the use of coal instead of turf from the middle of the sixteenth century there was greater production, so that in 1696 there were 88 factories, and of these 39 made bottles. In 1746 a duty of nine shillings and fourpence was imposed on each hundredweight of the materials for white glass, and two shillings and fourpence on the same weight for bottle and green glass, and no glass was to be exported or imported into Ireland except English glass. In 1840 there were about 26,280 tons of bottles produced, and of this quantity about 14,645 tons were exported from England. Five years after this date all restrictions were removed, and there was a general improvement in the industry.
During the twelfth century white and coloured glass were sold in Ireland. It seems probable that Captain Thomas Woodhouse was the first to commence the manufacture of glass in Ireland about the year l584, as the following entry occurs in the Patent Rolls that he " was the first that with any success had begun the art in Ireland." With the assistance of Ralph Pylling he erected two glass factories, but in about nine months he sold his interest to George Stone, who erected a factory near Drumfinning Wood in County Cork. At length permission was granted for the exportation of Irish glass; but the struggling industry received a blow by placing on May 1st, 1797, an export duty of a farthing on every quart bottle, and other sizes were charged in due proportion. Also people engaged in the retail glass trade paid an annual licence of £1. These restrictions, as well as keener competition from foreign makers, were the primary reasons for the industry to cease in Ireland. A more enlightened public policy should have encouraged the industry which might have been ere now a flourishing business in many districts of the country and a valuable source of employment.
Before the introduction of machinery five men were employed in a squad when making large glass bottles, and these were known collectively as a "chair," or "hole," and the work was distributed as follows :- One of these named the " gatherer" took the glass from the furnace on an iron blowpipe and rolled it into the required shape on an iron or stone slab. It was given to the "blower," who placed it in the mould, and afterwards by blowing through the blowpipe the bottle was formed. It was removed from the blowpipe with an instrument of iron known as the mallet by a person named the " wetter off," who passed it to the "maker," who modelled the neck of the bottle by placing with an instrument a band of molten glass over it. When finished the bottle was received on a long rod and placed in the annealing furnace, where it was allowed to cool slowly.
In the production of small bottles four workers were employed, forming a gang or "hole," and there were two "blowers," a "maker," and a "taker in," but it was usual for the " blower" to have an apprentice, who acted as the "gatherer," and boys often performed the duties of "wetter off" and "taker in." The use of machinery has immensely increased the output, as some of the machines can produce 24 large bottles and others 45 smaller bottles in a minute.
There were in 1913, 230,000 tons of sand imported into England from Holland, France, and Belgium for production of the finest glass. And it is essential that the purest sand should be used for optical glass, and a sand containing a large proportion of quartz without any iron is the most suitable material. Sand can be obtained by crushing sandstone, after which it is washed, steam dried, and then screened. Dust and all impurities are removed by the use of magnetic separators, which increases the expense, but the sand is a uniform size, and dissolves easily in the furnace. It requires 1 1/4 ton of coal to produce a ton of glass.
Local sand was used in the production of the dark green bottles, as there is no evidence of sand having been procured elsewhere. The adjacent coalfield, about a mile from the Glass Works, supplied the factory with a cheap and a convenient supply of coal. Indeed Ballycastle would be a most suitable district for the glass industry, as all the materials for its manufacture are near the town. In 1917 a small quantity of sandstone was tested in England, and it is probable that it is unsuitable for the finest glass, as the quarries were never leased to any company or individual.
It might be of some interest to mention that in 1920 glass-blowers received from £12 to £16 weekly as wages in England, and boys apprenticed to the glass-blowing commenced work at l0 d an hour. This is a fair example of the extraordinary increase in the earnings of the working classes, brought about by the European war, and which can only last for a short time. The general trade in other countries will soon become normal and more competitive for the price of manufactured goods.
Fragments of bottles of a dark green colour varying in thickness from one-eighth to half-an-inch have been picked up on its site, as well as pieces of slag varying in colour from blue to green. Several fragments of glass when held to the light have the usual greenish tint, but when lying on a flat surface or examined along the broken edge show a bluish colour. Instead of having the usual flat bottom, the bottles had a cup-shaped hollow bottom, which projected inside the bottle for about 2 1/4 inches, and some of the bottles were about 3 inches in diameter. A fragment of the curved handle of a small glass jug, also of the same colour, measuring 1 1/4 inch in a straight line, was also found on the site.
THE OLD HARBOUR.
There are some references to Ballycastle which may be described before proceeding with a description of the old harbour.
The Earl of Antrim in 1687 granted a lease for 89 years of the barony of Carey and the "mannor and Lordship of Ballicastle with the rights, members, and appurtenances thereof," the rents of which were to be used to discharge his debts. In 1641 the tenements covered three and a half acres, the park attached to the castle six acres one rood and six perches, and the lands of Portbrittes, belonging to the MacNeills, fifteen acres; and fifty years later the village was still the same in size. By a lease dated October 31st, 1693, the mills were granted to John Dunlop at the yearly rent of £11. For the years 1716 to 1720 the yearly rent of the village was £28 19s 7d. But it would appear that in 1722 the rent received, including the demesne, was £16 12s, and on the 9th August of that year James MacCarroll sent a proposal that he would give £22 12s yearly, which was probably accepted. In 1734 there were only 62 householders, of whom 32 were Episcopalians, 16 Roman Catholics, and 14 Presbyterians, and there were only 4 householders at Portbrittes or the Quay.
When Hugh Boyd became owner of the village and also the coal mines he used every possible influence with the Members of Parliament to obtain a grant for the erection of a harbour to facilitate the shipment of coal from the colleries on the development of which the Government had advanced £6,000. His application was successful, as he received in 1737 a grant of £10,000 from the Irish Parliament, and early in the spring of the following year the work commenced. In 1741 the amount expended was £12,260 0s 5 1/2d and which included a small grant of £2,206 0s 5 1/2d. This grant was to provide accommodation for ships carrying 30 tons, and was expended on the outer dock.
But it was noticed by the engineer during the work that there could be no protection to ships owing to its exposed position during stormy weather, and it was decided to construct an inner dock, now used as tennis courts, which cost £10,290 l9s 6 1/2d provided by a second grant, and which was capable of receiving ships of 150 tons burthen. The total amount expended, including a grant of £3,000 in 1763 for repairs on the east and west pier of the outer dock, was £25,517.
Vessels were permitted to enter the harbour before its completion, as Captain MacClain, in June, 1742, discharged a cargo of rock salt, and there were then lying in the inner dock several ships from 90 to 100 tons, and it was his opinion that when the works were completed, the inner dock could accommodate 49 ships of a similar size.
Robert Hutchinson, engaged in the salt trade at Newry, received annually for seven years from 1735 about 200 tons of coal, which were consumed in his salt works at Rostrevor, and for which he was charged four shillings and sixpence per ton at the colliery. It was his opinion that the coal was cheaper and more suitable than English coal in the manufacture of salt.
The reduction in the price of coal and the improved facilities in its shipment produced an increase in the number of works engaged in the manufacture of salt from one at Bath Lodge in 1723 to twenty in 1743, extending around the coast from Lough Swilly to Drogheda.
Joseph Johnson, who was employed for ten years on the works, and afterwards continued to reside in the village until his death, stated that 7,000 tons of coal at 4s 6d per ton were shipped annually to various places along the coast, notably Dublin, Belfast, and Drogheda, and that large quantities of flaxseed, corn, and meal were imported. Salt was reduced in price from six shillings to three shillings and sixpence per barrel. And it was computed that from 1738 to 1743 £60,000 were saved to consumers by the general reduction in the price of coal owing to competition from the Ballycastle coal, which was then in greater demand.
There were at least twenty vessels, each carrying about 100 tons, actively engaged in the coal trade belonging to residents in the village. There was a general condition of prosperity and full employment at the glass house, brewery, and bleach yard, all of which Hugh Boyd had promoted, and which were near the inner dock. There was suitable employment and as good wages as could be earned elsewhere for everyone who desired work, and owing to the large circulation of money there was contentment and happiness in the village and immediate district, which continued during his life.
The brewery was on the ground between the letter-box and the Manor House, as was also the tanyard. In old leases there is a reference to a distillery and a brewery at the Quay, with a clause prohibiting leaseholders from manufacturing any of these beverages. The site of the flour mill was on a now disused brickfield near the railway station, and the salt works were near the path from the road to the ladies' bathing-place near the Pans Rock. The tanneries, of which there were several, in addition to the one at the Quay, were situated, one at the Diamond, another in Castle Street, and another at the rere of the Antrim Arms Hotel; and there was a mill in the Milltown for grinding bark used in the process of tanning leather. But in addition to these industries there were soap and iron works, and also bleaching and the weaving of linen and a very considerable quantity of finished goods were produced and sold in various markets.
In November, 1757, a petition was sent for an additional grant to repair the Harbour, as the timber work below low water mark had commenced to decay and the framing of the pile work was being destroyed, and sand had accumulated at its entrance. It was thought that £10,000 would be sufficient for the repairs, and to replace the piles with hewn stones.
There was nothing granted, and in the following year Mr. Boyd commenced the repairs at his own expense. He replaced 152 feet at the extremity of the east pier with hewn stone from its foundation, and which was 16 feet in height and 20 feet wide, at a cost of 6s for every solid foot. It was necessary for a portion of the east pier, about 448 feet in length, and also the whole of the west pier, to have been repaired in the same manner, and for a breakwater about 300 feet in length to have been erected as a protection along the entrance of the outer dock from the fury of the waves. He was unable to undertake all this work, although it was required to place the harbour in a thoroughly sound condition, as it would have cost him the £10,000 refused by the Government. He also repaired in the same manner 120 feet of the west pier in 1762, and in the following year he was granted £3,000 for his outlay on these minor repairs.
This work was finished in 1763, and in June, 1765, Mr. Boyd died. These grants of money were on the distinct understanding that he was to keep the harbour in thorough repair at his own expense for 21 years from 1763. In a codicil to his will he arranged that the rents from the Glass House and some lands near Bunnamairge should be divided into ten shares, and four of these shares were to be used in "dredging, deepening, and keeping clear the outer and inner docks of the harbour, and in any further necessary repairs requiring to be made in the pier work." He also directed that a person who understood the work should be appointed at a yearly salary of £25 to superintend the repairs during the 21 years. There was no person appointed, nor was any money devoted to its repair, and in a few years after Mr. Boyd's death it was allowed to become useless, and eventually a total ruin.
With the exception of the coal mines, the rest of the industries in the village commenced to decay, and soon ceased to exist, and a place which had all the signs of permanent prosperity and business activity became deserted from want of employment. This was not Mr. Boyd's fault, as he had made ample provision that after his death all the industries in which he had a personal interest should be conducted as usual. But there were none to succeed him with the same business activity, and so the industries dwindled away, and at present there is no employment for skilled workmen such as is provided in any large factory.
In 1762 Hugh Boyd built and endowed twenty houses known as the Poor Row in Ballycastle for the use of miners and others who had been in his employment for at least eight years or for their widows in the case of death.
In September, 1920, there was an inquiry for the purpose of forming Ballycastle, including the townland of Townparks, into a separate urban sanitary district. It was stated that the population is 1,683, and the total valuation £5,794. The total debt is £3,352 l8s ld, made up of the following £518 0s l1d balance due on water and sewerage; £193 6s 8d on the new road; and £2,646 l0s 6d on the labourers' cottages. The annual expenditure was estimated to be as follows - £194 12s 9d on all the loans; to the County Council for county charges, £640; for union charges, £338; on annual expenditure on the roads, £695; annual repairs to the waterworks and sewerage system, £140; on salaries and office expenses, £120, making a total expenditure by the Urban Council of £2,127 12s 9d. From this are deducted £80 13s 4d for cottage rents, and Government grant on six cottages, £8 12s - making a net annual expenditure of £2,038 7s 5d.
This would mean an annual rate of 7s in the £1, and the present rate is 5s 10d on land and 7s 4d on buildings. It would cost about £1,600 to provide a new and a larger reservoir for the water. A rate of 1s in the £ produces £259 13s 5d, and a penny rate produces £21 12s 8d. An electrical engineering firm had offered to light the town at £1,500, which included the cost of providing and lighting 33 street lamps, and also the lighting of 50 private houses, the wiring and fitting of which would be an extra cost. It was also stated that in the urban area are 22 labourers' cottages, and that the balances outstanding on three loans amounted to £20,142 l0s 3d, and of that sum the proportion repayable by the Urban Council on 18 cottages would be £2,646 10s 6d.