Portpartrick

   PORTPATRICK, a burgh of barony, sea-port, and parish, in the county of Wigton, 6½ miles (S. W.) from Stranraer, and 34 (W.) from Wigton; containing 2043 inhabitants, of whom 996 are in the burgh. This place, of which the original name was derived from an ancient chapel dedicated to St. Patrick, is noticed in several documents under the designation of Port-Montgomery, from its having been purchased by that family, together with the castle of Dunskey, from its previous proprietor, Sir Robert Adair, of Kinhilt. It retained this appellation until its separation from the parish of Inch, in which it was included till about the year 1628, when, on the erection of the present church, which was dedicated to St. Patrick, and the formation of the lands into an independent parish, it resumed its original name. The estate subsequently became the property of the Blair family, of whom Sir James Hunter Blair, lord provost of Edinburgh, and member of parliament for that city, greatly improved the town and harbour; and the castle of Dunskey, and the principal lands in the parish, are now the property of Col. Hunter Blair, C.B.
   The town is finely situated on the western shore of the peninsula formed by the bay of Luce and Loch Ryan, and is nearly opposite to the town of Donaghadee, on the Irish coast, from which it is only twenty-one miles distant. The houses are well built, principally of stone found in the parish; and the inhabitants are supplied with water from wells. There are no manufactures of any importance: a few hand-loom weavers are employed in working up the yarn spun by families, for domestic use; and several of the females are engaged in embroidering muslin. The chief trade of the town is derived from its being the principal packet-station for conveying the government mails to Ireland; and from the fisheries off the coast. The beach affords excellent accommodations for bathing; and the place during the summer months is much frequented by visiters, for whose reception there are numerous comfortable lodging-houses and a commodious inn. On the south side of the town, also, is a strongly impregnated chalybeate spring, issuing from a rock, during the whole of the year, and which is in high repute for its medicinal virtues, and often resorted to by invalids. The harbour has been greatly improved under the superintendence of the late Mr. Rennie and his son, the present Sir John Rennie, and is now one of the best on this part of the coast. A lighthouse has been erected on the pier, which displays a reflected light; and there is also one at Donaghadee; which together render the passage perfectly safe during the night. Ship and boat building are carried on here to a moderate extent; but very few vessels of large burthen have been recently built, and there are at present four vessels only belonging to the port, which is merely a creek under that of Stranraer. They are of from twenty to eighty tons each, and chiefly employed in the coasting-trade, which consists principally in the exportation of agricultural produce, and the importation of cattle and lime from Ireland, and coal from Ayr. The herring-fishery was formerly considerable, but has recently been altogether superseded by the cod-fishery, in which ten boats, of three men each, are engaged from the beginning of November till the beginning of April, each boat realising a profit of £20 during the season. Portpatrick was erected into a burgh of barony by charters of James VI. and Charles I., but the charters have never been carried into operation, nor have any magistrates for the burgh been appointed; a justice of peace for the county presides over the district, and a constable is resident here, under a superintendent at Stranraer, the nearest market-town. The post-office has a tolerable good delivery; and facility of communication is afforded by the turnpike-roads to Glasgow and Dumfries, and by the post-office steam-packets, of which two are stationed here for the conveyance of the mail to Donaghadee, and which also take passengers.
   The parish is about four miles and a half in extreme length and four miles in extreme breadth, comprising an area of 9300 acres, of which 6300 are arable, 300 woodland and plantations, and the remainder meadow, pasture, and waste. The surface is boldly undulated, rising in some parts into hills of considerable elevation, which take their names from the farms whereon they stand, and of which the highest is Cairnpat, 800 feet above the level of the sea, and commanding an extensive and richly-diversified prospect over a country abounding with interesting features and beautifully romantic scenery. There are no rivers of any importance; but numerous small and rapid streams intersect the lands in various directions, of which the Craigoch burn abounds with trout: the Piltanton burn, after forming the eastern boundary of the parish, flows into the bay of Luce. The coast, about four miles in extent, is very precipitous, rising to a height of 130 feet, and indented with several caverns, though of no great extent, and with numerous bays, of which the principal are, Castle bay, Port-Murray, Port-Kaile, Mirroch bay at the extreme south, and Killintringan bay at the extreme north. The soil is various; in some parts, a hazel mould alternated with sand; in others, a black deep loam, chiefly of reduced moss, on a clayey subsoil; and in other parts, resting on gravel. The crops are, grain of all kinds, potatoes, and turnips, with other vegetables, and some garden produce. The system of husbandry is improved; much waste land has been brought into cultivation; the farm houses and offices are substantial and well arranged; and the lands generally inclosed with fences of stone. There are few sheep kept, and these are mostly the black-faced; the cattle are usually of the Galloway breed, and great attention is paid to their improvement. The plantations consist of oak, ash, sycamore, beech, elm, chesnut, larch, spruce and silver fir, and pinaster; they are carefully managed, and in a very thriving state. The rocks are mainly of the transition class; and the substrata, greywacke, and greywacke and clay slate of various tints, with other varieties: an attempt has been made to obtain coal, but without any success. The rateable annual value of the parish is £3185.
   Dunskey House, the seat of Col. Blair, is a spacious and handsome mansion, erected in 1706, and since greatly enlarged and improved by the late and the present proprietor; the grounds are tastefully laid out, and embellished with plantations. Behind the house is an artificial lake of four acres, round which a carriage drive has been formed along the margin; and in a glen within the demesne, is a romantic cataract formed by the Auchtrematane burn, which, when swollen with rains, falls from a rocky height of sixty feet into the ravine beneath, and flows with a gentle current through the glen into the bay of Port-Kaile. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Stranraer and synod of Galloway. The minister's stipend is £158. 6. 8., of which about one-half is paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £30 per annum: patron, Col. Blair. The old church, erected in 1628, was a cruciform structure with a circular belfry turret, and contained 300 sittings; but it was in very indifferent repair, and a new church has been just completed. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £30, with a house and garden, and the fees average about £25 per annum. Of several other schools some are partly endowed, and others supported solely by the fees: for one, a handsome house has been erected in the rural part of the parish by Col. Blair and his sister. There are also Sabbath schools, to which, and to the parochial school, libraries are attached; and the poor receive the proceeds of a bequest of £180 by a former earl of Stair. Some remains exist of the castle of Dunskey; and the site of the ancient mansion of the Adairs, of Kinhilt, is still pointed out, though no part of the building is left. Around the summit of the hill of Cairnpat are remains of two circular walls of stone, the intrenchments probably of some fortress; but the greater portion has been removed for the making of fences.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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