Ballyquillan Townland, Killead

Ordnance Survey Memoirs

The following are extracts from “Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland – Parishes of County Antrim XIII 1833, 1835,1838”. Thanks to The Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen’s University of Belfast for permission to use this extract.

Corn mills

The corn mill in the townland of Ballyquillan is propelled by a breast water wheel 12 feet in diameter by 12 feet 6 inches broad. The fall of water is 12 feet. The supply of water in summer is insufficient.

Early families

The McQuillans seem to have had a footing here, as the orthography of the townland of Ballyquillan would imply. There are not now any of the family in that townland, but there are 2 families of McQuillan in the townland of Ballyginniff who possess all the family characteristics as to physiognomy and figure, namely large stature and a good carriage, sandy hair, hazel eyes and fair complexion.


John Nixon of Ballyquillan died at the age of 102.


The farmers are a respectable and enlightened yeomanry, comfortable, if not affluent, in their circumstances and equally comfortable in their mode of living. Their farms vary in size from 15 to 100 acres. They possess a good deal of intelligence and have a taste for acquiring information. Their dwellings at once bespeak their character and habits. Their houses are generally 2-storeys high, roughcast and kept neatly whitened. Most of them, and all those recently erected by the early settlers still remain and are at once to be recognised by their high-pitched roofs, which are thatched, their narrow windows and their massive black oak beams, staircases and rafters.

Moore Grove in the townland of Ballyquillan, the family seat of the Moores, is a capital specimen of these. It is, however, on a larger scale, slated, and it is floored with black oak. The interior of the farmers’ houses corresponds with the exterior: a handsome parlour with marble mantelpiece and good sized windows, carpet and furniture of modern description is to be found in most of them. Some of them have a second sitting room and their bedrooms are equally well furnished, many of them having marble or cut – stone mantelpieces.

Clover Hill, the residence of James Moore Esquire, is agreeably situated near the western side of the parish, in the townland of Ballyquillan and 5 and three-quarters miles south of Antrim. The house is a spacious family mansion, 3 storeys high. It is somewhat antiquated in its appearance, from its windows being narrow and only 2 panes broad. It was erected by a former Mr Moore nearly a century ago. There is a good lawn containing some elms and young planting, and there is a tolerable garden.

St James (RC) Chapel

The following can be found in the book "Buildings of County Antrim by C.E.B. Brett published in 1996." page 42, no 35. Includes a photograph by M. O’Connell.

St. James’s (RC) Chapel, Aldergrove. Situated in Aldergrove village. Town land – Ballyquillin.

The Wreckers

The following is an extract from "Glenavy The Church of the Dwarf 1868 – 1968" by Rev. Patrick J. Kavanagh.


During the dark days of the early eighteenth century Mass was also celebrated on a hill in Ballymacrickett where, just as in the Largy there was a good view. Sometime around the 1760’s probably, this too was elevated into a "Mass-house." It stood there until 1798 when seven or eight locals who called themselves "The Wreckers" lived up to their name. There seems to have been an organised plan of destruction as around the same time the old churches or "Mass-houses" of the Rock, Derryaghy, Aghagallon and Ballinderry were also destroyed.

The poverty of the priests and people during the nineteenth century is almost impossible to believe in our more affluent days. Fr. Crangle was Parish Priest at the time of "the wrecking" and he is the first of the priests of the parish who emerges from the records as a person of flesh and blood, and not just as a name on a tombstone. He was a native of Sheepland in Dunsford and was ordained at home before going abroad, as was the custom, and studied at the College of Vadastus in Douai getting the degree of B. Philos. at the University there. In 1783 he returned to Ireland and worked in Belfast, and on May 25. 1787, came to Glenavy. He had a brother who lived at Darachrean-indeed this is still known as "Crangle’s Hill"-and the priest lodged with his brother. On Aug. 20, 1802. he got 13 guineas compensation for the damage caused to the church, and Fr. Devlin of Derryaghy got 12 guineas. It was Fr. Crangle who re-erected the church at Chapel Hill. Ballymacrickett, which is described as "a neat modern building measuring 60 feet by 30 feet." It was used until the erection of the present building. There is another story that Fr. Crangle lived in a house which formed part of the church, but whether this was an interim measure while the new church was being built or not it is now impossible to say. It is possible that he feared "the Wreckers" might one day return. The old chapel was of stone, roofed with thatch, and probably had an earthen floor. Fr. Crangle died in 1813 or 1814 and was buried beside it. The position of his grave is roughly about the position of the sacristy door in the present building.

On Palm Sunday, and at other times when the priest could not conveniently celebrate two Masses, it was customary to say Mass at a place called "The Gulf," on the bank of Lough Neagh, which was nearly central for the two congregations, but this custom had to be stopped because of disturbance by Orange mobs. When the Catholics ceased using the Mass-house at Thompson’s they used to assemble for Mass at a store-house in Ballyginniff. This was a long building with thick walls covered with ivy and surrounded by trees. Mr. McClure who later owned this property found human bones in the vicinity. Fr. Crangle as well as building the church in Ballymacrickett, built a small chapel in the townland of Ballyquillin which was later enlarged into the present church.

The date of the erection of this old chapel is not known. The building in Ballymacrickett was completed by Fr. Crangle in 1802. From the time of the "wrecking" Mass had been said among its ruins.

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