Ros Davies' Co. Down, Northern Ireland Family History Research Site
© Rosalind Davies 2001

Permission granted to reprint research for non-profit use only

Kilbroney parish

Rostrevor town Church of Ireland, Rostrevor old Catholic church & graveyard
Catholic Church, Rostrevor Killowen Catholic Church Rostrevor Presbyterian Church


Rostrevor town
on Carlingford Lough 1km SE of Newry

Rostrevor 1995 Rostrevor Church of Ireland spire and town
The church in the middle is the Church of Ireland and the spire is the distance (right) is St. Mary's Catholic church. The Parochial House is in town. The colour photo was taken in 1995 by Deirde McEvoy, who kindly forwarded it to me. Rostrevor Church of Ireland spire looking towards Carlingford Lough from the Hilltown Road in Rostrevor.

Rostrevor, formerly the seat of the Trevors, Viscount Dungannon in 1613, was called Rose-Trevor which name it received from the circumstance of Rose, daughter of Rev. Henry Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, being married to Edward Trevor, Lord Viscount Dungannon. The property having afterwards come into the possession of the Ross family by purchase in 1690 , the name was changed to Rosstrevor The ancient name of this place was Carrickavraghad.

In 1744 it was described as being a small village having a new church then lately built. a small quay for ships which ride at anchor within a few yards of the shore, also a slat works and a pottery for white earthenware made of fine clay found near Carrickfergus and frequently exported to foreign parts. In 1836 the area was wooded and the proprietor was David Ross Esq. Lodge & Mrs. Ross, of Bladensberg. There was a Total Abstinence Society in Church Street & Police Barracks in Old Post Office Street in 1863. The population in 1910 was 806.

Click here for information on schools here in 19th century.

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
Ribbonmen 23 Mar 1850: report by R. Gault 6 Aug 1851: Royal South Down Militia, trip to Rostrevor 2 Jun 1855; E. Greer's flour mill burned down 11 May 1872; another hotel, The Mourne opened 5 Jun 1875 ; old burial ground 24 Nov 1877; storng Gaelic Athletics Association club here from 1903 (9/4/28R*)

Newspaper article from Newtownards Chronicle;
opening of a skating rink- Rostrevor and its attractions 26 May 1877

References;V3 p 26, 27, 32 OSM: DR; ;MS WAG p63,64; NC; PNNI V1 p 152;GV; POD


Church of Ireland, Rostrevor
in Church Street

This photo of the parish church of Kilbroney was kindly sent by Bill Haggan and shows the church at the forefront of the photo with the Catholic church spire to the right in the background. It replaced an ancient church whose ruins are in the town but closer to Carlingford Lough.

The old church was dedicated to Saint Bruno, the patron of the Ascetics. The original name of this place was Kilbruno. An ancient clog-ban or white bell was found around 1800 in the ivy which covered the gable of the ruins. It was of very good workmanship and was being used as an altar bell in the Catholic chapel in Newry. It is a mixture of brass and some very white metal; well-cast and although broken, is still remarkably sonorous. It had remained unobserved in the ruins for two centuries and was discovered during a violent storm when the wind shook the bell and produced a sound which attracted the attention of people passing by. This bell is of the same kind as the other ancient bells which have been found in Ireland and which were rung on funeral occasions. In 1815 a man named Duffy found in the ruins of the church, three antique brazen candlesticks connected together at the sides and bottom. On the centre is an inscription not yet deciphered. A carved hand is visible on the left and on the right, a cross is distinctly marked. In each candlestick there was placed a piece of wood wrapped round with wool, which had been oiled. The wood was perfectly sound. The windows of the church were 5 feet high and arched, the doorway in the southern wall was 8 feet to the top of the arch and the doorway looking east was 14 feet high and arched.

In the grounds of the ruined church, is an ancient inscribed cross, thought to date from the 6th century. Richard Hayward, writing in 1936, expresses the view that this cross marks the grave of St. Bronach who founded the convent and the face at the top of the cross is a representation of the foundress. There is another more ornate and skillfully executed cross in the graveyard with beautiful interlacing, which is reckoned to date from the 9th century.

In the 1766 Religious Census, the minister was Rev. John Warnock. It is mentioned in the 'Ancient and modern state of Down' in 1744 that a the new church was built to replace the old one . This new church was described in 1836 as a plain, rectangular building measuring 60 feet by 25 feet and in bad repair and had been disused by 1821.

The church in the photo was built in 1821 at a cost of £1,837 of which, £1,100 was a loan by the Board of First Fruits, £200 a gift by the same board and the remaining £537 by subscription of the congregation. A gallery was added in 1827 at an additional expense of £150, a vestry added in 1864 and a new roof in 1880. In 1836 it was described as a good building of stone with a square tower , situated in the upper part of the main street of Rostrevor. It could hold 350 people with an average attendance of 310 in summer. There is a monument in the church to Major- General Ross, the commanding officer of the 20th regiment of foot who fell 12th September 1814 in the attack on Baltimore. Another marble tablet was placed by Richard Jebb in memory of his nephew John Heyland McCormick who died in 1829, aged 23, when a gun exploded in Rostrevor Bay. The vicar in 1836 & 1846 was Rev. Edward John Evans and the curate was Rev. Benjamin Jacob. There was a Church Education Society School & teacher's house here in 1863. The rector in 1910 was Rev. T.W.E. Drury.

The Ven. Edward Dupre Atkinson was rector of the parish for 35 years until his death in 1937 and although he was happy during his 12 year ministry, he found it somewhat different to his previous parish of Waringstown because , as he explains, "instead of a large population mainly consisting of weavers artisans and farmers, my flock here consisted of three or four substantial farmers and a certain number of small ones, some boarding-house keepers, tradespeople and servants, with almost all the residential gentry and villa folk of whom there was a very considerably number in the parish."

Records from 1814 available

References;V3 p 27, 29,33, 36, 39, 40 OSM: MS WAG p 65; GIPR;GV; POD; MIs


Rostrevor Presbyterian Church

Rostrevor Presbyterian Church
in Mary St, Rostrevor

The minister in 1910 was Rev. Lyle Harrison.

records from 1851; no graveyard

References;POD; GIPR: GIC;GV


old St. Bruno's Catholic Church and Graveyard,

outside Rostrevor NE of town on the road between Rostrevor and Hilltown

The ancient chapel of St Bruno (c. 15th century) ) is in ruins (covered by creeper) . It was dedicated to St Bruno, the patron saint of Ascetics and built on the site of an even older 6th century convent of St. Bronach. Kilbroney Cross (pre-Norman) & St Bridget’s Wells are here . The ancient clog-ban or 'white bell' which was in the gable and was covered by ivy is now in the St. Mary's Catholic Church, Rostrevor. It was discovered by chance when a violent storm shook the bell and produced a sound which attracted the villagers. Three ancient, decorated candle sticks were found in 1815 by Mr. Duffy.

Parish priests; Rev. Florence McDonegan 1307; Rev. Hugh O'Rooney 1424;Rev. Agholy McDermydan 1427; Rev. John McGeryery 1428;Rev. Gullabroney McKeown 1428; Rev. Philip McKeown 1431;Rev. John McAvoy 1433-42; Rev. Clement McDonegan 1443; Rev. Arthur Magennis 1526; Rev. Patrick Byrne 1526;Rev. McGinn 1534; Rev. Cowan 1657; Rev. Marcus Fegan 1670; Rev. Maginn 1690; Rev.John Doran 1704;

This ancient chapel was replaced in 1744 by the church in Rostrevor but burials continued here

References;V3 p 26, 29,33,34, 37 OSM; GIC; TIA; IPP p 114;GV; DR 2 /12/ 1939


St. Mary's Catholic Churc, Rostrevor

St. Mary's Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Rostrevor

The original church on this site was built in 1744 at an expense of £200. This was raised by subscriptions. It replaced the ancient chapel on the Hilltown road called St. Bruno's ( see photo above). The site was obtained from the Ross Estate through the efforts of John O'Neill of Bannvale House, Hilltown. The new church was repaired in 1806 at a cost of £230. It was described in 1836 as a plain, stone building in the form of a cross also with a belfry and bell. It was capable of holding 900 with an average attendance of 800 people. The parish priest in 1825- 1836+ was Rev. Patrick/Peter McEvoy and the curate Rev. John Dorn.

The church of St. Mary's Star of the Sea was designed by architect Thomas Duff and finished after his death by Patrick Byrne in 1850/51 thanks to the efforts of the parish priest the Rev. Bernard Mooney. His achievement is still remembered by a plaque which reads," Of your charity, pray for the soul of the Rev. Bernard Mooney P.P., whose remains lie within this sanctuary. He was pastor of this parish for seventeen years, during which time this church was erected. He departed this life the 25 November 1864, in the 63rd year of his age." The church spire is clearly visible for miles around. There was a National School next door in 1863. The church was repaired in 1922 and additions made in 1925,1936 & 1999

List of Parish Priests; Rev. Collins 1768; Rev. M.McAlinden 1772 ; Rev. McKey 1779; Rev. Matthew Lennon 1769;Rev. Thomas 1782; Rev. Bernard Devlin 1805-1807; Rev. James Gilmore 1814-1817; Rev. Peter Devlin 1817; Rev. Patrick McEvoy 1825-1847; Rv.Bernard Mooney 1847- 1864; Rev. Patrick O'Neill 1862- 1890; Rev. Matthew Lynch 1890- 1907;Rev. Daniel Mallon 1907- 1921; Rev. Hugh O 'Reilly 1921- 1927; Rev. William McGinn 1927-1943;Rev. Timothy Boyle 1944- 1971; Rev. Thomas Mooney 1972- 1987; Rev. Arthur Byrne 1987- 1992; Rev. Arthur Bradley 1992- 2004; Rev. Michael Hackett 2004-

The graveyard is around the ancient chapel. has registers to view 1808- 1881; NLI have free copies of microfilmed baptisms , marriages & burials 1808 -1881 -; PRONI (Mic 1d/24-25) , NLI (Pos 5499) & LDS have baptisms, marriages & burials 1808-1880; UHF has baptisms 1808-1900 & marriages 1848-1900 & deaths 1808-1900; LDS film #0926085 1808-1881 for Warrenpoint & Kilbroney Catholic parishes

References;MS WAG p 67; V3 p 27 OSM; Perspective p6; DDPP p117;GV


Killowen Catholic Church

Killowen Catholic Church

in Ballyedmond townland
on the main road between Kilkeel and Rostrevor

This chapel was originally built in 1779 at a cost of £180 which was raised by subscription and rebuilt in 1826 at a cost of £220. This was also defrayed by subscription. It was described in 1836 as a plain, slated , rectangular building, holding 450 people with an average attendance of 416. The parish priest in 1836 was Rev. Patrick McEvoy who lived in Rostrevor. There was a school house adjacent in 1863. The church was rebuilt in 1871 and repaired in 1995.

No graveyard

References; V3 p 28, 34 OSM; CM; GIC ; DDPP p118;GV

by Ros Davies