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

Knockbreda Parish (near Belfast)

Knockbreda farm Ballymacarrett- parish Church of Ireland St Patricks Church of Ireland, Ballymacarrett old Knock Parish Church ruins
Willowfield Church of Ireland St Judes Church of Ireland, Ballynafeigh Church of Ireland, Orangefield St Finnian's Church of Ireland, Cregagh
St Columba's Church of Ireland, Knock Castlereagh Presbyterian Gilnahirk Presbyterian .
. The Boat House on River Lagan Bridge over River Lagan St. Matthew's Catholic Church


Belfast from Knockbreda

a painting by Nicholl c. 1830

You can see Newtownbreda parish church spire on the left; Castlereagh Presbyterian spire on the right with Castlereagh House in front of it. In the background is Cave Hill ; in the centre are the Belfast chimneys on the left and Belfast Lough on the right


River Lagan

Boathouse on River Lagan River Lagan
These lovely old postcards were kindly sent to me by Jeff Hampton. The one on the left shows the boathouse on the River Lagan just west of Newtownbreda c. 1920 (Breda townland) and the one on the left shows a bridge over the River Lagan nearby . c. 1913

Knock Church of Ireland ruins Entrance to Knock graveyard

old Knock Parish Church ruins
in Knock townland, 100 yards north-west of Knock Road at the top of the hill in Knockmount Park
near the intersection with Sandown Road

Entrance from Knockmount Park

This ruined church was the main Church of Ireland in Knock parish until it combined with Breda to become Knockbreda parish in 1658. It was called the church of Cave Columkille and it wasn't a very big church.

There is a stone with the following inscription :Here lies John Galt, who loved no fault, enclosed beneath this stone, for helping of the poor in need, he scarce left such a one, he lived well and well he died, as true men do record, and now he rests from worldly toil and reigneth with the Lord. Who deceased upon the 1st November 1566.

Gravestones UHF Vol 4 &13 ; oldest stone 1644; email me for a gravestone look-up; for gravestone photos try

This photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.

References;V7 p31 & v17 p 118 OSM; PI p590 ; SCPC p8
old drawing of church entrance - in ruins Entrance gate with graveyard beyond. You need to get the key from Dundonald Council to enter. Opened by appointment only. Tel. 028 9044 8342- not all the site is accessible to wheelchair users or those with walking difficulties.

parish Church, Knockbreda

the parish church- Church of Ireland,
Church Rd, Newtownbreda, near the Belvoir Park Estate

The church was buit in 1737 after the old parishes of Knock & Breda combined in 1658. The rector in 1830 & 1832 was Rev John Kinahan. The rector in 1876 was Rev. H.W. Stewart. The Montgomery family renovated the church in 1886.

Baptisms & marriages from 1784, burials from 1787 then 1827-69 ; UHF (www.ancestryireland) have marriages 1827-1844; have burials 1827-1844 ; graveyard attached, gravestone inscriptions for Breda graveyard UHF Vol 1 ,2 & 13; oldest stone 1717; graveyard now derelict; email me for a gravestone look-up

This photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.

References;V7 p 98 ,99, 102 OSM; FR; GIPR; TMUOP p84; POD ; MC


St Judes Church of Ireland

St Judes Church of Ireland
in Ballynafeigh; Ormeau Rd, Belfast

This church was rebuilt in 1873 but had officially separated from Co. Down 27 Jul 1867 and transfered to Belfast Diocese.
Does anyone have any further historical information about this church?

This photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.


Willowfield Church of Ireland

Willowfield Church of Ireland
in Woodstock Rd, Belfast

This church was designed by John Lanyon and built in 1872 with an extension in 1901. The spire was dismantled twice in 1912 & 1951. Rev. Canon Charles William Harding was rector from 1900-1922 and, concerned for the working man, he built a school- Willowfield National School. (Iris Frizzell)

This photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.

References; OS map 1902 4.11


St Patrick's Church of Ireland
Newtownards Road, Ballymacarrett

The rector in 1830 was Rev. John H. Potts and in 1852 was Rev. George Bennett.This church was rebuilt in 1893. The vicar 1889-1916 was Rev. George Gore Mervyn with curate Rev. E. Hayes. Rev Major Frederick Chessnut-Chesney was a minister c. 1920-1923. The church was seriously damaged during air raids in 2nd World War.
Does anyone have any further historical information about this church?

PRONI has records at MIC/1/317 ; at the Cregagh Library at the top of the Cregagh Rd in the PRO Section MIC/1/317 open from 1-5pm

This photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.

References; FR ; POD ; SCPC p33; OS map 1902 4.11


St Johns Orangefield

St John the Evangelist, Church of Ireland in Orangefield
on Castlereagh Road

Rebuilt in 1957.

Records from 1853; PRONI has records at MIC/1/320;

This photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.



St Columba's Knock

St Columba's Church of Ireland
in Kings Rd, Belfast

This church was consecrated 13 June 1896 by Rt. Rev. Thomas Welland, Lord Bishop of Down, Connor & Dromore. Kings Road, at this time, was rural and not part of Belfast suburbia as today.
Before its erection, the parishioners worshipped at old Knock Church. In 1886, Rev. F. Graham, curate of Ballymacarrett, decided that worship in an old log mill was unsuitable and built an iron church on Kings Road. It was known as Knock Iron Church . It was decided in 1894 to replace this church with a new one on a site donated by Hon. R. Ward of Bangor Castle. The churcg was added to in 1900 & 1932.

"The building standing today is not the original building. The original building burned and this is the one built after that. The lectern and pulpit are of pink marble and sculptured by Joseph Holland of Holland House. He was a sculptor. Also the baptismal font was sculptured by Joseph Holland and given as a gift to the Sunday School class of his daughter Clara who died at age 18 in her memory. This is noted on the baptismal font. In 2000 when I made a return visit there had been an addition for a choir room along with vesting for acolytes and use by the altar guild. The new addition cost £100,000.00 plus. It is beautifully done as they matched the original building structure and stone." ( Shirley Harland )

This photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.

References; SCPC 6,8,9,11,15 16, 22,27,33


St Finnian's Church of Ireland, Cregagh

The church was rebuilt in 1932.

This photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.


Castlereagh Presbyterian Church

Castlereagh Presbyterian Church
in Castlereagh on the peak of Castlereagh hill;1 km W of the Belfast to Ballygowan road

This congregation was originally split between Knock with another at Breda. The date over the door says 1650. The first minister was Rev. Hugh Wilson 1661-1690. Next was Rev. James Montgomery until 1710. He was succeeded by Rev. Francis Montgomery in 1715 who rebuilt the church in 1720 . He became infirm and was replaced by Rev. Samuel Alexander 26 Jan 1742 who becoming infirm was replaced by Rev. Rev. Alexander Henry 13 Dec 1774 . He was suceeded by Rev. Charles Grey 3 Mar 1807 who resigned/ suspended 16 Mar 1814 . Next was Rev. Henry Haslett, ordained 24 Sep 1816, who rebuilt the church in 1834. He semi retired and was assisted by Rev. Robert Workman in 1851 was a short time then Rev.John James Given from 7 Feb 1854 then Rev. William Rogers from 3 Aug 1871 then Rev. John B. Thomson from 13 Mar 1877.

Newspaper Articles from Northern Herald;
notice of reopening 8 Aug 1835

records from 1809 (see Batch #C320757 on ; North of Ireland FHS ( has baptisms & marriages 1816-1921; graveyard attached, gravestone inscriptions UHF Vol 1 & 18; oldest stone 1778; email me for a gravestone look-up

This photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.

References; NH; GIPR: GIC; RWN p 70;HCPCI p87; GV


Gilnahirek Presbyterian

Gilnahirk Presbyterian Church- the Church on the Stye Brae
on Gilnahirk Road running SW from Kings Rd, Knock

The congregation first met in a thatched cottage near the front gate. The first minister of this congregation, Rev Francis Pringle, was ordained in 1772 in the Anti- Burgher Synod (Seceders). He built the first church in 1787 & it was rebuilt in 1845 by Rev. John Coulter who was minister for 57 years until his death in 1877. On 1 Sep 1863 a musical soiree was held at the church with admission of one shilling . The school master's dwelling was attached to the nearby schoolhouse. It was renovated & the tower built in 1910 by Rev. D.S. Ker Coulter. The church hall (built 1899) was reconstructed and renovated in 1953 & opened by the minister's wife (Rev. F.O. Best).

Newspaper articles from Newtownards Chronicle:
Rev. John Coulter's son died in India 16 Nov 1872

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
death of Rev. John Coulter 18 Aug 1877

baptisms from 1797, marriages from 1828, North of Ireland FHS ( ) has baptism 1797- 1921 & marriages 1816-1921; steep graveyard attached; oldest stone 1833 ;gravestones UHF Vol 18 ; email me for a gravestone look-up

This photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.

References; ACG p5,7 ,67 (photo of graveyard p75, 81 (photo), 101 ) ; GIPR: GIC; NC; DR; V18 MIs; GV ;POD


St. Matthew's Catholic Church, Knockbreda

in Bryson Street, off Newtownards Rd, Ballymacarrett, Belfast BT5 4ES


The church was built in 1831 to replace an old church. There was a school house attached. in 1836. The priest in 1843 & 1852 was Rev. James Killen. The edication of a new building took place 24 Jun 1883, the collection being £1500. The parish priest in 1900 was Rev. John Macauley.

Records available; PRONI & NLI have baptisms 1841- 1888; presbytery in Bryson Street Tel: 9045 7626


  References; V7 p 98, 99 OSM; POD; TIA; O'L B p 616; OS map 1902 4.11; LM 1994 p74; DDCD 2001; LM 1989 p28; Irish World NY 28/7/1900


by Ros Davies