Ulster Canal & Legananny

Saturday 30 November

An investigation was made of the Ulster Canal and some sites nearby. Rathtrillick (H758379) is a large platform, about 45m diameter, almost completely surrounded by a deep ditch. Outside of this is a large bank and beyond this another ditch and bank. The whole is surrounded by a low platform. From the bottom of the ditch to the top of the bank is about 5m. There is a well-defined entrance in the east with smaller gaps elsewhere. The estimated diameter of the total structure is 110m.

Near Rathtrillick is a large mill of two storeys plus attic (H759382). The bottom storey is of stone and the upper storeys are of brick. There are substantial remains of a waterwheel and associated works. The wheel is about 4m diameter and 1.5m wide. The spokes are intact but most of the buckets and lining are missing. Remains of the sluice show that it was a breast-shot wheel. Behind the mill are the remains of the dam and downstream the tailrace may be seen although it has almost dried up.
At Middletown, close to the military checkpoint, is a good example of a "ball alley bridge" (H748387). Such bridges, over the Ulster Canal, feature three ramped approaches.

The bridge at Tyholland (H714358) is intact but the ramps from the main road have been removed. Close to this bridge is a schoolhouse (H715358) dated 1821. Upstream from the bridge are the remains of a lock (H713358). Only a fragment of one lower gate remains. A windmill stump was noted in passing (H698360).

At Templetate (H578297) the canal bridge is almost completely hidden by a road re-alignment. Nearby, the lock-keeper's house is derelict and shows considerable wear. The chimney stack is broken as is one of the window lintels. The building is T-shaped with the projecting wing towards the canal. On this side it is faced with large regular stone blocks with less regular stones at the back. Since Tyholland Bridge we have passed the summit level of the canal so that the lock south-west of Templetate (H577296) is downstream from the keeper's house and bridge. This lock features traces of one of its sluices and portions of the lower gates. The church nearby (H578298) is dated 1839. It is dedicated to BVM and is a simple rectangular structure. Across the road is Magherarny National School built in 1890.

Clones High Cross (H500261) appears to be a composite of two crosses. The present head appears to be too small for the shaft. The base is plain and the shaft has figure carving. The east side is very greatly weathered. There are three panels. The lowest panel features three standing figures and one kneeling figure. This is thought to represent the Adoration of the Magi. The other panels are not clear. On the west side the lowest panel represents Adam & Eve, the middle panel Abraham & Isaac and the top panel Daniel in the Lions' Den. The head of the cross has a great deal of figure carving including small figures at the extremities of the arms. Above the centre on one side is a skull, with crossbones on the other side.

In the old graveyard (H499261) is an incomplete Round Tower and a church- shaped tomb. The tomb is made from two large stones and features an inscription. There are finial-shaped ends. One gable features a greatly weathered figure with outstretched arms. In the graveyard is a large collection of mid-18th century gravestones. These are generally round or oval with small projections and resemble a small, unpierced, ring- headed cross. There is the usual memorial inscription on one side and the other side features symbols of mortality. Around a large, central skull-and-crossbones are grouped the hourglass, coffin and bell. Nearby are the remains of a simple rectangular church (H499260). It is entered through a large round arch which has some figure carving including a beast head. In the south wall is a small round-headed window with a deep recess. On the outside of the north wall is a small ring-headed cross in relief.

The church is faced with well-formed sandstone blocks. In the graveyard are some memorials similar to those in the other graveyard. However these stones also feature stars and hearts.
The large mill at New Mills Bridge (H719389) was inspected briefly. It has an internal wheel at least 4m diameter. There are two sets of stones only and at the rear of the mill are the remains of a corn-kiln.

Sunday 1 December

Some Co Down sites were revisited. Legananny Cross Inscribed Stone (J303427) is about 155cm high by 35cm wide and 30 cm thick. It features an inscribed cross 25cm by 25cm with expanded ends. The stone is shouldered and incised marks suggest a cross shape. A number of marks at one edge suggest Ogham but they are crude and irregular. Legananny Dolmen (J289434) is a tripod structure with portal stones 1.8m high and the backstone 1.1m high. The capstone is over 3m long with maximum width 1.5m and thickness 50cm.

Finnis Souterrain (J273442) was visited but no exact measurements were taken. From a previous visit it is known that the total length is about 45m and the height throughout is about 1.4m. The entrance is fitted with a metal door but this now appears to be permanently open. Inside there are some traces of restoration work. The souterrain features no traps or creeps and it is possible to walk through it at a stoop. About 10m from the entrance a passage about 10m long runs off to the right. About 10m further on a similar passage occurs also on the right. The end of the souterrain is a further 10m on.