Benmore or Fairhead in the County of Antrim

View of Fair Head, looking south-west to north-east, from sea-level, showing a jumble of rocks and cliffs. In the foreground is a rowing boat with two figures; one is attempting to control it, the other, holding a rod or pole, is standing upright gazing at the prospect. On a small adjacent rock surrounded by water, a man sits precariously, holding a sketch pad, looking landward and apparently drawing the scene, while another person, standing beside him and gesturing towards the cliffs, may be providing instructions in relation to the sketch. Over on the shore opposite them two further figures can be seen among the tumbled blocks of stone.

Inscribed in Image

  • Caption outside of boundaries of image – Benmore or Fairhead in the County of Antrim

Image Details

Genre Landscape
Technique Engravings
Subject(s) Marines, Nature
Geographical Location
  • Benmore or Fair Head - Named locality
  • Antrim - County
  • Ulster - Province
Keywords(s) Artists, Boats, Cliffs, Passengers, People, Rock formations, Seas
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 8.4 cm x 15 cm
Published / created 1839

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account Letters concerning the northern coast of the county of Antrim
Note William Hamilton
Print or manuscript Manuscript
Location of image in copy opp. p. 117
Source copy National Library of Ireland Dix Coleraine 1839
Alternative source

This is a link to a digital copy hosted by an external website.
Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

The leading features of this whole coast, are the two great promontories of Bengore and Fairhead, which stand at the distance of eight miles from each other; both formed on a great and extensive scale, both abrupt toward the sea, and abundantly exposed to observation: and each, in its kind, exhibiting noble arrangements of the different species of columnar basaltes.
The former of these lies about seven miles west of Ballycastle, and is generally described by seamen, who see it at a distance and in profile, as an extensive headland, running out from the coast a considerable length into the sea; but, strictly speaking, it is made up of a number of lesser capes and bays, each with its own proper name, the tout ensemble of which forms what the seamen denominate the head-land of Bengore.
[p. 113] These capes are composed of variety of different ranges of pillars, and a great number of strata; which, from the abruptness of the coast, are extremely conspicuous, and form an unrivalled pile of natural architecture, wherein all the neat regularity and elegance of art is united to the wild magnificence of nature.
[p.117] At the distance of eight miles from hence, (as I mentioned before) the promontory of Fairhead* raises its lofty summit more than five hundred feet above the sea, forming the eastern termination of Ballycastle bay. It presents to view a vast mass of rude columnar stones, the forms of which are extremely gross, many of them exceeding two hundred feet in length, and the texture so coarse, as to resemble an imperfect compact granite, rather than the uniform fine grain of the Giants' Causeway basaltes†. At the base of these gigantic columns lies a wild waste of natural ruins, of an enormous size, which in the course of successive ages have been tumbled down from their foundation, by storms, or some more powerful operations of nature. These massive bodies have sometimes withstood the shock of their fall, and often lie in groups and clumps of pillars, resembling many of the varieties of artificial ruins, and forming a very novel and striking landscape.
A savage wildness characterizes this great promontory, at the foot
[Notes, p.117]
• This is the Robogdium Promontorium of Ptolemy the geographer. Its Irish name is Ben-more, or the Great Promontory.
† These pillars do not at first view appear to have any marks of articulation ; but on observing such as have fallen down from the top of Fairhead, they are found to be often separated into pretty regular joints by the force of the fall.
[p.118] tation has yet crept over the hard rock to diversify its colouring, but one uniform greyness clothes the scene all around. Upon the whole, it makes a fine contrast with the beautiful capes of Bengore, where the varied brown shades of the pillars, enlivened by the red and green tints of ochre and grass, casts a degree of life and cheerfulness over the different objects*.
[Note, p. 118]
• The ruins which lie tumbled at the base of this promontory, render it difficult to determine, precisely, what the substances are, that may be situated beneath the basaltes. However, from attentive examination, there is reason to imagine, that this enormous pile rests on the fossils usually attendant on beds of sea coal ; and that the strata of the Ballycastle coal-pits, which appear to be of a date antecedent to that of the basaltes, extend entirely under the promontory of Fairhead. [p.112-118]
Benmore or Fairhead in the County of Antrim