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

Permission granted to reprint research for non-profit use only

Kilcoo parish

Catholic Church, Kilcoo Newcastle town & churches Bryansford village Bryansford Church of Ireland
Bryansford Catholic Church Tollymore House Drumena Cashel Trassey Bridge

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St. Malacy's Catholic Church, in Kilcoo Village
on the road between Rathfriland and Downpatrick
Parochial House 121 Dublin Rd, Kilcoo, Newry BT34 5HP; Tel 4063 0314

The old church, in Ballymoney townland, was destroyed in the rebellion of 1641 and rebuilt in the village in 1760. Burials contined at the old site. Prior to being rebuilt, Mass was celebrated on an altar built of sods and stones under the shade of a large thorn bush in Drumena townland. Mass was also celebrated at the friary in Moneyscalp and at Burren Rock where two cavities which one held Holy Water are still cut into the rock. The site of the present church was also hallowed by the great sacrifice having been there offered up in the days of persecution on a large stone which was built into the eastern wall of the churchyard. The old chapel was in ruins in 1836 with only parts of 3 walls remaining, built of rough stones about 30cm wide , filled up with smaller stones and a great quantity of mortar; now part of the graveyard of St. Malacy's. The parish priest in 1780 was Rev. Daniel O'Doran & before his death in 1798 was Rev. John Fitzsimons.

This church (left) was built by Rev. Hugh Smith (priest since 1798) in 1802, the date being inscribed on the lintel of the eastern door. It was a plain, slated building in the form of a parallelogram. Inside it has 2 galleries with a painting over the altar of the crucifixion and held 300 people. The parish priest in in 1819 was Rev. Michael O'Hagan after his uncle Rev. Cormac O'Hagan & in 1836 was Rev. Hugh O'Neill of Ballymoney & Rev. Hugh Connor 1856-1888. The church rebuilt again 1901 during the pastorate of Rev. Patrick Magee (1889- 1914) and again in 2005

The name Kilcoo means ' the church of mourning' and tradition says that the body of St. Patrick was waked here. has registers to view baptisms 1832-1880; PRONI & NLI have baptisms 1832-1880; UHF has baptisms 1832-1899 & marriages 1899-1900, graveyard in old church grounds adjoining.

List of Priests 20th century:
Rev. Patrick McGee- 1914; Rev. John Eardly 1916-1920; Rev. Charles McKenna 1920-1929; Rev. James McGrath 1929-1941; Rev. Charles O'Neill 1941- 1955; Rev. Hugh Walls 1955-1972; Rev. Gerald Laverty 1972- 1979; Rev. Charles Denvir 1979- 1994; Rev. Anthony Alexander 1994+

References; WDG p134; V3 p 44 OSM; KM; MOF p 3; GIC: TIA; O'L V1 p 40;LM 1994 p61; IPP p 113; PNNI V3 p 97; OUT 13/4/2005 p17; PR; MO 20/4/2005 p14; Inv 2006 p10; LM 1994 p56,66


Bryansford village- tied cottages

Bryansford village
3km S of Castlewellan

These cottages are part of 17 in the village tied to Earl Rodin, of Tullymore House and were built for the workers on the Tollymore Estate nearby.

The name means 'Brian's Ford' which is situated at the SW edge of the village. Brian is believed to be the son of Brian Mac Hugh Magennis, who held lands in this area from 1640. The proprietor in 1795 was C. crawley; The town and surrounding Ballyhafry townland was owned by Earl of Roden in 1863. There was an old scutch mill near here c. 1850. There was a police station here in 1889.

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder:
Dr Hunter 29 Apr 1843: W. Johnston Esq. Manor House 2 Sep 1843; 21st birthday of Viscount Jocelyn of Bryansford, grandson of Earl of Roden 30 Nov 1867; cordial relations between tenants and an Irish agent 31 Dec 1881; lands held by Earl of Roden in 1878; Bryansford Gaelic Athletic Association was a leading club in 1930 (9 Apr 1928R*)

Newspaper articles from Mourne Observer:
Old Inn, Bryansford (photo) 10 Oct 2007

References;V3 p44 OSM; UJA;DR; DR*; O'L v1 p 37; PNNI V3 p 116; GV; DR 24/11/2004; RICLD p80; DR 11/1/2012 P28 (photo of Halliday's shop & post office c. 1900)


Bryansford Church of Ireland

Bryansford Church of Ireland

This church was built by Lord Annesley to service his family and estate, probably built in 1712 and was a small rectangular building. It was altered in 1812 with the addition of enlarged windows and a tower.A bell was added in 1830. It is capable of holding 400 people with the average attendance in 1836 of 130. The church was disestablished in 1870 then later reinstated and a rector appointed.
The graveyard surrounds the church.

List of rectors & curates:
James Maffet, before 1775-1829; vicar of Maghera but took the services here
1828-1883 John Forbes Close, Rector of Kilkeel, with the Chapeleries of Kilcoo, Kilmegan and Tamlagh
1828-1830 William Dalton, Curate
1830-1836 Charles Hume
1836-1859 Christopher Ussher, Curate
1859-1865 William Burland, Curate
1866-1871 William St George, Curate
1871-1873 Thomas Keane, Curate
1873-1884 Charles Parkhurst Baxter, Curate
1884-1912 Arthur Langtry, Rector
1912-1919 Owen Randal Slacke, Rector
1919-1928 H.N. Joly, Curate-in-Charge
1928-1929 J. Gordon, Curate-in-Charge from Drumgooland
1929-1930 R.H. Edgar, Curate-in-Charge from Drumgooland
1930-1934 G. Furniss, Curate-in-Charge from Drumgooland
1934-1947 R.V. Gilliland, Curate-in-Charge from Drumgooland
1947-1952 Michael Roycroft, Rector from Drumgooland
1952-1960 R.H. Lowry, Rector from Drumgooland
1960-1962 H. Leckey, Rector from Drumgooland
1962-1966 W.N. Hall, Rector from Drumgooland
1966- C.R.J. Rudd, Rector from Drumgooland

Baptisms from 1786; marriages from 1828; UHF ( ) has baptisms 1786-1829; have baptisms 1786 -1829

References;V3 p 44 OSM; GIC; PNNI V3 p 97 ;KPCB; POD


St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Bryansford

St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Bryansford village

A chapel was built here in the 1760 by Rev. Robert Taylor and rebuilt in 1830 by Rev. John O'Heggarty. Prior to the building of this chapel, Mass was celebrated in a 'bohog' at Cross in Tullyree townland, Kilcoo parish and at Burren Rock.

The chapel holds 550 people.The parish priest in 1827 was Rev. Bernard Murray then Rev Luke Walsh until 1829. In 1836 it was described as a plain building surrounded by trees. When Rev. John O'Heggarty arrived at the chapel in 1829 the congregation were agitated because of attempts by some local Protestants, calling themselves New Reformation, to convert them offering financial inducements. William McNally & Judith McKernan were asked to state what happened in depositions. Rev. O'Haggerty managed to quieten the situation but made an enemy of Lord Roden who served notices on him to quit the chapel. The parish priest in 1843 was Rev. Mr. Magill then Rev. Hugh Hanna in 1845 -1885. The curate in 1910 was Rev. John McAleese. has registers to view 1845-1884;PRONI & NLI have baptisms 1845-1880, marriages 1845-1885, burials 1860-1882; UHF has baptisms & marriages 1845-1900, burials 1860-1900; graveyard attached

References;V3 p 44 OSM; LM 1994 p61, 64,66, 72 ; NWAG p 9; TIA; GIC ; GIPR; O'L v1 p 64; PNNI V3 p 97; DR; POD


Tollymore House

Tollymore House

3km W of Newcastle

This was the house & demesne of 538 acres .It passed from the Magennis clan by marriage into the Hamilton family c. 1641. James Hamilton, Viscount Limerick, then Earl of Clanbrassil, carried out extensive alterations to the main house after he inherited from his father in 1758 with more extensions in 1787. When he died in 1798 without issue, the estate passed to his sister, Countess of Roden and remained in the family for generations.
Described in 1836 as delightfully situated, surrounded by fine woodland. Residence of Isabella Keown & Miss Maria McCreight in 1860. In 1863 it is described as 1128 acres & held in fee by Earl of Roden. It was also his residence in 1886. The Bryansford Gate was decorated for the coronation of King Edward 7th in 1901 (photo available DR15/2/1926 & DS 2008 p67). Still Earl of Roden's residence in 1910. The house is now a pile of rubble . Northern Ireland's first publicly owned forest park.

Articles from Down Recorder newspaper;
residence for Prince of Wales 4 Jun 1870; garden party 4 Sep 1875; alarming fire 19 Jan 1878

References;PNNI V3 p 99; V3 p 43 OSM;HCDTD p136; GV; POD; DR* 14/12/2005L; MO 26/112008 p45 ; MO 10/3/1983 p9 (photo); MO 15/3/2017 (photo)


Drumena Cashel

Drumena Cashel with Souterrain

Drumena Cashel is on a hill overlooking Lough Island Reavey . The outer stone dry wall is one and a half metres high and 2 metres thick. The souterrain is T-shaped and constructed of dry- built masonry and roofed with stone lintels, some of which have been replaced by concrete. The main passage of about 2 metres is aligned NE - SW and it entered from the SE by a side passage opposite which is a wedge-shaped chamber apparently with a small opening for ventilation.

This enclosure was built in the Early Christian period ( 6th century) as a farmstead enclosure for cattle and sheep at night. It probably also offered the farmer and his family protection against invaders. In the centre of the enclosure is a T shaped souterrain measuring 20 metres and 10 metres. This was probably used for storage and as a refuge in difficult times.

Over the centuries none of the farmers in the area have helped in its deterioration but rather venerated it as something special from the past. The site was dug over and the cashel wall rebuilt in 1925.

References; MO 14/12/2016 p21

This lovely old postcard from Kevin Lonie c. 1905 shows Trassey Bridge near the road from Hilltown to Bryansford in the Mourne Mountains.



by Ros Davies