SCARVAGH, a village (formerly a market-town), in the parish of AGHADERG, barony of UPPER IVEAGH, county of DOWN, and province of ULSTER, 2 miles (N. W.) from Loughbrickland, on the road to Tanderagee; containing 220 inhabitants. During the civil war of 1641, this place was the scene of many sanguinary struggles: it finally fell into the hands of General Monk, who erected a castle on the summit of a gentle eminence to command the pass, where a garrison was kept for several years. Here the army of William III., under Duke Schomberg, first rendezvoused after landing in Ireland, the camp extending in two lines from Loughbrickland to Scarvagh pass and to Pointz pass; a venerable oak in Scarvagh demesne is still shewn as that under which the royal tent was pitched. In 1783 a battle was fought at Lisnagade fort, between the "Hearts of Steel," and the "Break-of-day Boys," when several of the former were killed.

The village, containing about 50 well-built houses, was founded about 1746 by the late John Reilly, Esq., who obtained a charter for a market and fairs. It is situated on the canal between Newry and Lough Neagh, having a small dock and quayage for lighters; a considerable trade is carried on, particularly in coal and turf, supplying a populous neighbourhood and numerous bleach mills and manfactories with fuel. The market has long been discontinued; but fairs are still held on March 21st, June 19th, Sept. 5th and Nov. 14th, and are well attended. Scarvagh House is the seat of J. Lushington Reilly, Esq.; Union Lodge, of William Fivey, Esq.; and Lisnagade House, of E. H. Trevor, Esq.: the two former are situated in extensive demesnes, on which is some very fine timber; the last is on a lofty eminence, close to the ancient fort from which it is named. Here is a beautiful lake called Loughshark; and not far distant was one more extensive, called Loughadian, which was drained in 1760 by W. Fivey, Esq.; part of it is cultivated, and the remainder is bog. Here is a male and female school, erected and supported by Mr. Reilly, and also a neat and commodious meeting-house for Seceders.

In the vicinity are numerous vestiges of antiquity, which appear to have had some connection with the passes through the bogs, lakes, and forests, which formerly abounded here, although this is now one of the most fertile and beautiful districts in the North of Ireland. In the demesne of Scarvagh is the "Danes' Cast," by the native inhabitants known by the name of Gleann na muck duibhe, or "the glen of the black pig;" it is principally composed of earth, and resembles the Roman wall in Scotland, and Offa's dyke in North Wales; its course is nearly north and south: in some places it consists of a single foss and rampart, in others the rampart is divided by a deep foss, which gives the appearance of a double foss and rampart. It is supposed to extend from Lough Neagh to the sea, near Dundalk, but it is no where so well preserved and unbroken as in this neighbourhood: it traverses southward through the demesne of Union Lodge, where it is a single rampart and foss, the rampart being here faced with stone, and it so continues to the reclaimed ground of Loughadian; northward it extends towards the fort of Lisnagade, terminating at a stream that forms the boundary between the townlands of Scarvagh and Lisnagade.

Lisnagade, or "the fort of a hundred," is one of the most extensive and best-preserved of its kind: it consists of treble ramparts and intrenchments; the entrance is from the east, leading into an extensive circular enclosure, whence are obtained prospects of the entire country for many miles around, and a great number of forts or raths are seen, from which circumstance it is supposed this fort took its name, being the chief or centre of a hundred others: the fosses on every side are very deep, and it is remarkable that they are all paved at the bottom with rounded pebbles set in clay.

In cleaning the fosses, in 1832, Mr. Trevor found a great many silver coins, a brass cauldron, spear-heads, and other relics of antiquity. Great numbers of arrow and spear-heads of flint, stone and brass celts, and other military weapons, have been found in almost every part of the "Cast." In 1807 the head and antlers of an enormous elk were found, which are carefully preserved at Scarvagh House: several others were found in the bog marl near Union Lodge; and in draining Loughadian, part of a tiara of gold, brazen swords, skeans, and spear-heads, were discovered, all of which are in the possession of W. Fivey, Esq., of Union Lodge. The greater portion of the ancient castle or tower yet exists at Pointz Pass; some fragments of that at Scarvagh are still seen above the village, and in the centre of Lisnagade fort are the remains of another of the same kind; the floor was discovered entire in 1832, constructed of baked tiles.

Search Topographical Dictionary of Ireland »