Ramelton in the C18 and C19

Once a thriving port and important industrial, commercial and administrative centre, Ramelton is today a small C18th/C19th town. Following the Flight of the Earls in 1607, the town of Ramelton and 1000 acres were granted to Sir William Stewart, who built nearby Fort Stewart At Ramelton, Sir William immediately set about building a new castle (burnt c 1650), a church and 45 houses. The church, now in ruins, incorporated a stone from the friary at Aughnish, which was dismantled in 1662. Other stones from the friary can be found at the entrance to St Paul's Church.

Originally centred at the castle, during the C17th, the town grew westwards along Castle Street and up Back Lane to the Manse and Tullyaughnish old church. During the C18th and C19th, this westward expansion continued to a point suitable for crossing the Lennon river. This expansion added Bridge St., Church St., The Mall and Shore Road. A settlement also formed at Bridgend. In the late C19, there were further developments at Chapel Rd., the Town hall, the Quay and additional warehouses. Today the town has largely retained its compact character and a number of elements contribute to the appearance of the townscape.

The Mall gives Ramelton a distinctive quality, quite unlike many small Irish towns who characteristically seem to have turned their backs to a river. This sheltered riverside promenade was set out in the late C18th and is flanked by a terrace of town houses, whose overall architectural character is vernacular Georgian with smooth rendered facades and subdued coulours. Most of these properties are still in use as a mix of residential and commercial uses. By 1837, Lewis found Ramelton to consist of three streets and 341 houses and to be admirably adapted to manufactures of all description. The Ordnance Survey memoirs of 1835 record "Good slates are bought from Dooish Hill in the Laggan across Lough Swilly, timber from Norway and America and lime from Oughterlin". The fact that in 1835, 1,000 tons of timber and 100 tons of slates were imported indicates the extent of building carried on in Ramelton at that time. Ramelton is fortunate in having a dedicated action group of people who are determined to preserve the historic character of the town. The Georgian houses have been continuously occupied, by and large, and every effort is being made to protect the unspoilt and pleasant atmosphere of this exceptionally pretty town.


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