Ros Davies' Co. Down, Northern Ireland Family History Research Site
© Rosalind Davies 2001
Permission granted to reprint research for non-profit use only

Bright & Rathmullan Parishes

Killough town Killough, Church of Ireland Rathmullan Church of Ireland Bright Church of Ireland

Primitive Wesleyan Methodist Church in Killough town

Catholic Church, Killough
Legamaddy/Coniamstown Catholic Church

St. Cooey's Holy Well and Graveyard, St. John's Point

Ballynoe Stone Circle . Castlescreen Rath and Stone Tower .


Killough town

Fisherman's Row, Killough
The photo (above) of Killough taken from Point Road in the south , shows the curving line of the cottages known as Fishermen's Row and testifying to the fact that there was once a thriving community of fishermen in Killough This lovely photo of Main St, Killough was kindly sent by Bill Haggan Another modern photo from Bill Haggan in sepia style showing another part of the Main St, Killough

Killough was formerly in Rathmullan parish then transfered to Bright parish. The population in 1659 was 21,by 1821 it was 1140 and in 1846 1148 with 224 houses, 51 families employed in agriculture, 126 in manufacturing or trade; 21 in professions; 118 in labouring jobs and 68 directing labour. In 1836 there was a Church of Ireland , 2 Methodist & a Catholic church, some schools and an ancient well, St. Scordon's, here. The proprietor was Lord Bangor.

No one who knows Killough today, with its mouldering sea walls and silted harbour, can have any idea of the bustling life that was there in the 18th century. The village and port were the creation of Michael Ward of Castleward, father of the first Lord Bangor and a justice of the King's Bench. From Norman times the Russell family ( Catholics) had held the manor of Killough, but they had been deprived of it after the rising of 1641. It was a place of little consequence, however, until Michael Ward turned his attention to it. He renamed it Port St. Anne, in honour of his wife, established a salt works there and made a number of improvements to the harbour. Its principal trade was the export of barley with fifteen ships and twenty boats engaged in fishing.

After the outbreak of war between Britain and France in 1793 the growing of cereals increased in Lecale and Killough, as one of the ports of export, expanded to deal with it, until its population was almost double what it is today. The existing harbour facilities were soon inadequate and between 1821 and 1824, Michael Ward' s son, the first Lord Bangor, employed the engineer Alexander Nimmo, to build new quays at a cost of £17,000. The piers, a long one of nearly 600 feet on the Killough side and a short one of 100 feet on the Coney Island side, enclosed a fine harbour. The village prospered and the grain merchants built their imposing houses in Castle Street, and their stores on the narrow lane leading to the quays.

For a brief period in the early 19th century, Killough was the busiest and with its tree-lined main street, in many way the most attractive of the seaside villages of East Down. But when the post-was depression of the 1830s brought a fall in grain prices, merchants, who had expanded in many fields during the inflationary period, soon found themselves in difficulty. For a time their reserves enabled them to keep going, but soon Killough saw one grain store after another close and its once busy harbour lay idle. The decline of the village was reflected in the population which fell from 951 in 1851 to 380 in 1937.

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
road impassable 18 Feb 1837; school house erected 8 Apr 1837; lead mine 8 Apr 1837; effects of the Big Storm 12 Jan 1839; Poor Law district population was 3589 in 30 Nov 1839; windmill to let 21 Oct 1843: charity money 23 Dec 1843; Famine soup kitchens 16 Jan 1847: the trustees of the Bangor Estate gave £3 towards the soup kitchen 6 Feb 1847; Famine relief committee 18 Sep 1847; new flax scutch mill 28 Aug 1852; windmill to let 14 Oct 1854; dangerous state of Killough Bridge 9 Feb 1856; Tea party, Juvenile Temperance Society 17 Apr 1858; report from Killough dispensary 27 May 1880; email me for a photo of Killough railway station which opened in 1892 (27 Mar 1967R); meeting of Catch-My-Pal Total Abstinence Society 23 Oct 1915*; deputation to parliament for a deep water harbour 3 Nov 1926*; photo of Main Street c. 1960s (10/10/1939*)

Newspaper article from Northern Herald;
brig 'Dale' knocked to pieces at Killough 14 Nov 1835

References;V17 p10,34,35,36, 37,108,116 OSM; DR/DR* 7 /11/ 2001, 5/11/03*; LWAG p 75; GIC: GIPR; KCL p 10,14,15; DS 1998 p 41-50 (yawls) ; LM 1996 p6-11 (1720-1760)


St. Anne's Church of Ireland, Killough

St. Anne's Church of Ireland in Killough
in Palatine Square

This Chapel of Ease was rebuilt in 1716, again rebuilt in 1738 and it needed some rebuilding in 1815. This was paid for from a bequest of Rev. James Hamilton. Rev. Robert Stewart was rector for 40 years until his death in 1812.Rev. Francis McGillacuddy was rector in 1830. Rev. William Milligan d. 7 Aug 1832. His wife and 2 children also died in 1832.
It was described in 1836 as a neat building with a belfry and spire and one small gallery. It seats 250 people. The spire was blown down and the roof damaged on the night of The Big Storm on 12th January 1839 (DR). The Rev. Horatio Moffat was appointed curate 28 Oct 1845 (AG). Rev. J.W. Williams rector in 1877, Rev. J. O'Flaherty in 1910 & Rev. R. Frazer in 1937

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
reopening 8 & 22 Jul 1876; new organ 21 May 1881; death of Rev. Samuel West, rector 21 Apr 1883; improvements to the building 14 Nov 1915

Graveyard attached , gravestones until 1865 UHF Vol 8; oldest stone 1731; email me for a gravestone look-up

References;V17 p10, 36 OSM; DR & DR* ; GIC; FR ; DR (14/6/1937); POD


Bright Church of Ireland

Bright Church of Ireland
in Bright townland

This church was rebuilt in 1745 and could seat 200 people with 100 the average attendance. In 1836, it was described as very small and plain. Rev. William Annesley was minister c. 1836 & Rev. John McCracken in 1910

Graveyard attached , gravestones from 1707 until 1865 UHF Vol 8; email me for a lookup

The photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.

References;V17 p 33 OSM: GIC; MIs; O'L V1 p 150; POD ; LR 2007 p18; LM 1984 p31 (b/w photo)


Rathmullan Church of Ireland

Rathmullan Church of Ireland
in Rathmullan then Bright Parish
south of Downpatrick , on Scollogs Road

The first church (Catholic) on this site was built in 1213 by the Knights Hospitallers. This was taken over by St John's Order of Jerusalem but was in ruins by 1622. This parish church, perched high on a rocky hillside, was built on the site in 1703 and rebuilt in 1716 and 1802. The Rev. Robert Stewart was the first minister. About 1822 workman found a chalice and patina under the floor. On the foot of the chalice were the names George Russell and his wife Mary Taafe of Rathmullan, June 1640. Rev. Bernan Ward was rector in 1798.

In 1836 the church was described as a small, plain building, capable of seating 250 people. The minister at that time was Rev. Mr. Charles Archbold and the population of this parish was 2,800 people. School was taught in the ruins of Glebe House in 1836. A spire and tower were added in 1886. The church spire can be seen way out to sea and was a landmark for passing ships. The building was refurbished for its 300th anniversary in 2003.

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
notices by J.W. Hanna 8 Sep 1860; appointments to select vestry 26 Apr 1926*; underwent extensive repairs 26 May 1926* reopening with Rev J/R . Johnston & former rector Rev. H.A. Jones; concert 9 Apr 1928* with Rev J. Johnston, rector

Records destroyed in 1922 by a fire in Dublin's Four Courts (MO 10/9/03); Gravestone inscriptions available UHF Vol 9, including one of Joseph Wood who died aged 112; earliest legible gravestone 1717, only used by Protestants; email me for a gravestone look-up
The photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.

References;V17 p35,36,108 OSM; LM 1985 p9; DR: V8 & 9 MIs; GIC; GIC; O'L B p 554; MO 10/9/03; FR ; LR 2009 p58


Primitive Wesleyan Methodist Church in Killough

Primitive Wesleyan Methodist Church

in Killough town

This is a photo of Main Street, Killough. The Methodist Church is the small, plain building on the left. The spire of the Church of Ireland can be seen in the middle. The cottages on the right, known as Carman's Row were occupied by jarveys and carters, who carried people and goods as the railway didn't reach the village until 1892.

The church was built in the Gothic style in 1825 and repaired in 1834 at the expense of the Methodists. It cost £150 to build and measured 33 feet by 24 feet. There were 28 seats which would hold 8 people each.

This photo was taken c. 1905. The minister in 1910 was Rev. Charles Clayton who attended fortnightly from Downpatrick. Today, the church is a health clinic.

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
soiree in Killough 7th Jan 1843: soiree 11 Jan 1845

References;V17 p10, 36 OSM; DR; LWAG p 74; KCL p 29; POD


St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Killough

St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Killough
in Chapel Street, Killough BT30 7QQ
Parochial House 22 Castle St, Killough, Downpatrick BT30 7QQ ; Tel 4484 1221

This chapel was erected in 1828 with money donated by a merchant named Mr. Rogan. Prior to this Catholics worshipped at a Mass Rock near Conaianstown. The church was consecrated by Dr. Crolly in Aug 1828. The parish priest at the time was Rev. Father Richard McMullan (1819-1837) & Rev. John McKenna 1837-1848 . In 1836 it was described as a plain building capable of seating 400 people. In 1844 the chapel was altered The parish priest in 1848 -1855 was Rev. Peter Denvir . The church was rebuilt in 1884.

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
death of Rev. Richard McCullen/McMullan 24 Apr 1837;letter from Major Beauclerk to Rev. Mr. McKenna, parish priest 10 Dec 1842; presentation to Rev. James O'Flaherty 7 Feb 1880 has registers to view 1856-1881; PRONI & NLI have baptisms 1856- 1900, marriages 1856- 1900, burials 1877- 1900, UHF has baptisms & marriages 1856-1900,& deaths 1877-1900, no graveyard

Lists of 20th century priests;
Rev. John McShane until 1906; Rev. Patrick McCambridge 1906- 1925; Rev. Henry Murray 1925- 1933; Rev. James Napier 1933- 1963; Rev. Patrick Conway 1963- 1967; Rev. Sean O'Neill 1967- 1973; Rev. Maurice McHenry 1972- 1975; Rev. John McAteer 1975- 1980; Rev. Finbarr Glavin 1980- 1992; Rev. Felix McLoughlin 1992- 1993; Rev. Peter Donnelly 1993- 1998; Rev. Kieran Whiteford 1988+

Bright Catholic parish web site & email

References;V17 p 36 OSM; LM 1994 p63,64 ,69; DR ; TIA; KCL p 15; O'L V1 p 165


St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Legamaddy
near Coniamstown BT 30 8 AR

This 1st black & white photo was taken around 1900. To the left of the church is the parochial house and to the right is the school. The colour photo was taken in 2001.

There is a Mass rock on the site where Catholics worshipped during Penal times. The priest in 1704 was Rev. Seneca or Jenkin Smith & in 1768 was Rev. Magnus Grant. A Catholic chapel was erected in Coniamstown about 1745 then replaced by a better chapel in 1796. In 1836 it was described as having no seats but could accommodate 400 people. It is in a in a T shape.
This chapel was replaced by an even better chapel in Legamaddy townland by Rev. Richard Killen with the foundation stone being plaid 27 Aug 1862 and consecrated on 22 Oct 1865 by Dr. Denvir. The sermon was preached by Dr. Dorrian. It is in Gothic style and was designed by Mr. John O'Neill, an architect from Belfast.

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
concert at St. Patrick's Amateur Club 3 Jan 1936* has registers to view 1856-1881; PRONI & NLI have baptisms 1856- 1881, marriages 1856-1900, burials 1877- 1900, UHF has baptisms 1856-1900, marriages 1856-1900 & burials 1877-1900 ; a few graveyard but most older burials in Bright Parish Church

Bright Catholic parish web site & email

References;V17 p36 OSM; DR* 1/8/ 1937; TIA; GIC : V8 MIs; O'L V1 p 164;LR 2003 p 31 ; DR * 21/10/05; LM 1994 p59
Legamaddy Catholic Church


St. Cooey's Ancient Site

St. Cooey's Holy Well and Graveyard,

St. John's Point

A monastic site was founded on this spot in the 7th century by St. Cooey and associated with Eoan (John) son of Cairland. It was pillaged by Vikings and rebuilt in the 12th century. The church is listed in the capella of 1306. The walls were still intact in 1744 but in ruins now. The Holy Well still attracts pilgrims today for its curative properties.

None of the writing on the gravestones is legible and the old church buildings are rubble.

References;HMNI p96 ; O'L V1 p 152,153; LR 2005 p25


Ballynoe Stone Circle

Ballynoe Stone Circle

The Ballynoe Stone Circle is one of the finest in Ireland.The site appears now as a large circle of closely-spaced stones with some outliers, surrounding an oval mound. The eastern part of the mound has a stone kerb and there is an arc of stones beyond its western end. Its outer ring consists of stone up to 2 metres high. Excavation uncovered a rectangular stone cist at each end of the mound with cremated bones.. Some experts think the remains may date from before 2000 BC which would place it in the late Neolithic period or early Bronze age.

From Down Recorder newspaper;
Dr. Van Griffen, Dutch archaeologist, unearthed 2 cairns and 2 cists from Bronze Age 29 Sep 1937*


Castlescreen Rath and Stone Tower

Castlescreen Rath and Stone Tower

Not far from Ballynoe, with its megalithic stone circle, is this complex monument, which was really a late 15th or 16th century tower- house built within an ancient rath. Excavation of the site in 1951 revealed the rath to have had successive periods of occupation, going back to the 1st millennium AD. It was probably surrounded by a ditch but all trace of this has gone, though it is still possible to identify a pond in the centre of the rath that was probably a watering hole for livestock. Of the tower-house just two walls and a part of the tower survives. Its original name Greencastle changed over the years to Castlescreen to avoid confusion with the Anglo-Norman Green Castle overlooking Carlingford Lough.

the proprietor in 1795 was J. Carson & proprietor in 1836 was Lord De Ros and a gentleman Mr Hamilton resided there .

Newspaper article from Down Recorder;
The local authority Bernard Marmion was 18 Feb 1837 .

T'was on a summer morning the clouds were high and pale,
I walked up to that old hill-top, the centre of Lecale;
I looked out to the west and spied aged Castlescreen,
It brough sad memoris back to heart of the days it had seen.
by P.J. Lennon

References;V17 p33 34,35,36, 37 OSM; UJA; DR; LWAG p 81; O'L V1 p 140 & B p 523; Inv 2002 p 7

by Ros Davies