A History of the Church of Ireland in Ramoan Parish

Monday July 8th 2024

The re-publication of Hugh Alexander Boyd’s book The History of the Church of Ireland in Ramoan Parish will be welcomed not only by members of the Church of Ireland but by anyone interested in the history of North Antrim.

The account, which was first published in 1930, takes us back to a time when St Patrick first travelled through Dalriada baptising people and establishing local churches; a time when Ireland emerged from the world of myths and the Christian message was first heard.

We hear the tale of the miraculous birth of St Olcan and his baptism by St Patrick. The infant Olcan apparently emerged from the ground after the death of his mother in Carn-Sedna, present day Armoy. On reaching manhood, Olcan’s ardent embrace of Christianity resulted in his being appointed by St Patrick to the Bishopric of Armoy.

Today, the round tower at St Patrick’s Church stands on the site of a monastic foundation he reputedly founded. Among the many other churches St Patrick established in the area was the Church of Rathmudain (Ramoan – Ballycastle and Culfeightrin) over which he placed Ereclacius, a priest, after whom the Church was named.

From those early days, Hugh Boyd traced the history of Ramoan Parish, a parish his family had been associated with for centuries. Indeed, Colonel Hugh Boyd was responsible for the erection of the additional Ballycastle Church in 1756 at his sole expense. In 1849, after many undocumented transformations, the present Church of St James was built on a new site about 150 yards from the original and controversially the name Saint Ereclacius was abandoned.

This fascinating history takes us through the sometimes turbulent history of the parish, including first-hand testimony related to the Irish Rebellion of 1641, the devastation of the Great Famine and the emergence of Ramoan’s first Presbyterian Church.

The book is a rich source of local family history. It includes details of the vicars of Ramoan and their families, the wardens who supported the parish and the local gentry. The transcription of the parish’s memorial tablets and graveyard inscriptions give us invaluable details related to the major families of the area, as well as members of the congregation and those who suffered and died in the Great War.

The Rev David Ferguson, rector of Ramoan and Culfeightrin, said: “I warmly welcome this invaluable reprint of Hugh Alexander Boyd’s book. Even as a youthful scholar his careful and detailed record still stands the test of time and will cast light on many things relating to the Church of Ireland, not only in the Ballycastle area.”  

The Very Rev Dr Godfrey Brown, former Moderator of the General Assembly and Minister of Ballycastle Presbyterian Church 1964, commented:“I often consulted this book in the local library but was never able to obtain a copy of my own. I was delighted to learn that Clachan Publishing was keen to organise a reprint.”

Published by Clachan Publishing, Ballycastle, The History of the Church of Ireland in Ramoan Parish is available at https://www.clachanbooks.com and DJ McLister.


Back to latest news

Site Directory