Thursday 8 May 2014

Rathfriland in 1788

From The Complete Irish Traveller, published in London in 1788.

RATHFRYLAND is four miles south-east of Donaghmore, and nearly seven east of Newry, on an eminence, having four great strait roads leading up to it, and centering in the town. It is built of freestone rock, of a firm close grit, fit for building, with which the adjacent lands abound, and is easily cut into squares, pillars, urns and vases. At one end of the street is a small decent church. Here the dissenters have a meeting-house, and a little south of the town is a horse-course. On the summit of the hill are the ruins of an old Castle, which has been much larger than at present. Near this place is a seat called Lisize, at the foot of a hill; and about a mile northeast is Ballyroney, another seat, near the verge of a pleasant lake of the same name. South of Rathfryland the mountains of Iveach begin to rear their lofty heads, and, except a few, cottages, little else occur to view. We returned therefore towards Newry, half a mile east of which are the rocks of Creeve, where we saw the remains of an old chapel, whose name is lost. A little farther, and more than a mile east of Newry, is Crown-bridge, so called from a Danish rath, seated in the neighbourhood, which bears some resemblance to a crown. It is erected on the top of an hill of easy ascent, and surrounded by meadows, through which a river gently glides in two channels, forming an island, in which the rath or hill is situated. It is of a flat unequal form at top, being 63 feet one way, and only 27 another, surrounded by a deep fosse, 21 feet broad, out of which the rath hath been thrown up; the compass of it taken at the bottom of the fosse is about 579 feet, and the conical height near 110 feet. On the west side of the rath and separated from it only by the surrounding fosse, is a square artificial platform, taking up about 130 feet on each side and hollowed in the middle, being of near 30 feet conical height at a medium, so that the rath overlooks it, and has a fosse encompassing it about 15 feet broad. This platform, if we may credit tradition, was erected as an area where two royal competitors in single combat decided the possession of a crown, and the rath was raised to perpetuate the memory of this action. Southward of the mount, on a little hill, at the north end of a small lake, called Derrickelagh, are the ruins of the chapel of Temple-Gaurin, which in the Irish dialect signifies goats' church. We now hastened to Newry, from whence the canal passes northward about 14 miles, when it joins the river Bann, not far from Lurgan, in the county of Armagh. It was began in 1730, and finished in 1741.

This article was originally published in "The Open Window Illustrated - Literary Annual and Year Book of Local Annals" in 1900 which was centred on the Newry area. 

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