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Ireland Gazeteer

Antrim in 1833

ANTRIM, a town in Ireland, in the county of the same name, about 105 miles north of Dublin, and about 15 miles N.W. from Belfast. It is near the N.E. extremity of Lough Neagh, the largest lake in Ireland, and on the Six-mile Water, a small stream which flows into the Lough.

Although Antrim gives name to the county, it is not the shire town, and had, in 1831, a population of only 2,655.

It was once, however, a place of great consequence, as appears from its having, before the Union, returned two members to the Irish House of Commons, from the mayor being admiral of a considerable extent of coast, and from the corporation having been entitled to the customs paid by all vessels within the limit of the jurisdiction thus enjoyed by the mayor. This grant was repurchased by the crown, and the custom-house was transferred to Belfast.

Antrim consists of one long street, with the market-house in the middle. The parish church is a modern Gothic structure, with a steeple and spire, and there are a Catholic chapel and several dissenting meeting-houses.

The linen manufacture furnishes employment to many of the inhabitants.

In the neighbourhood are Shane Castle, the ancient seat of the O'Neils; and Antrim Castle, once the seat of the Skeffingtons, Viscounts and Earls of Massarene, and now of Skeffington Foster, Earl of Ferrard.

The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Connor.

At Antrim is one of the ancient round towers found in many parts of Ireland; it is perfect, and is 95 feet high. The origin of these towers has been keenly disputed by antiquarians: most of them, however, agreeing that they are the work of the Ostmen or Danes. Mr. Ledwich (Antiquities of Ireland) supposes them to have been the belfries of ancient churches. Other opinions have been broached of late, and by some people received.

This town was the scene of one of the severe contests which occurred during the unhappy civil disturbances in the year 1798; in it Viscount O'Neil, father of the present Earl O'Neil, received a mortal wound. The insurgents were entirely defeated.