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Copeland Islands, Down

Historical Description

COPELAND ISLANDS, a cluster of three islands, situated at the south entrance of Belfast Lough, and in that part of the parish of BANGOR which is in the barony of ARDES, county of DOWN, and province of ULSTER, called respectively Copeland, Lighthouse and Mew islands. They derived their common name from the family of the Copelands, who settled here in the time of John de Courcey, in the 12th century, and of whose descendants, some are still to be found in the tract called Ballycopeland, on the mainland. Copeland island, the largest of the three, called also Big island and Neddrum, is 2 miles (N. N. E.) from Donaghadee, and about one mile from the mainland; it comprises about 200 acres, and contains 15 houses; near a small inlet, called Chapel bay, are the ruins of a church, with a burial-ground. About halfway between this island and the mainland is a rock, called the Deputy, on which a buoy is placed; and at the west end of the island is the Katikern rock, always above water, from which run two ledges about a cable's length, and on which a stone beacon has been erected. There is good anchorage on the west side of the island, and in Chapel bay on the south of Katikern, in from two to three fathoms of water, in all winds but those from the south-east. Lighthouse, or, as it is also called, Cross island, is about 1 mile (N. E.) from Copeland island, and is one furlong in length and about half a furlong in breadth, comprising about 24 acres. The Lighthouse from which it takes its name is a square tower, 70 feet high to the lantern, which displays a light to the southeast, to guide vessels from the north and south rocks, which are 3½ leagues distant, and to the north-west, to guard them from the Hulin or Maiden rocks lying between the mouths of Larne and Glenarm. The lighthouse is situated in lat. 54° 41' 15" (N.), and lon. 5° 31' (W.), and the light is plainly seen at Portpatrick and the Mull of Galway, in Scotland, from the latter of which it is 10 leagues distant. Mew island is a quarter of a furlong (E.) from Lighthouse island, and comprises about 10 acres of rocky pasture; it lies very low, and is extremely dangerous to mariners; in the sound between it and Copeland island is a flat rock with only three feet of water on it, called the Pladdens; and a rapid tide sets through the sound. Off this island the Enterprise, of Liverpool, a homeward-bound vessel from the coast of Guinea, was totally wrecked in 1801; she is said to have had on board £40,000 in dollars, which, with all her cargo, lay buried in the sea, till 1833, when Mr. Bell, by means of a diving apparatus, succeeded in recovering about 25,000 of the dollars, five brass guns, and other valuable property.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1840 by Samuel Lewis

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Copeland Islands from the following:


Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Down is available to browse.