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

Permission granted to reprint research for non-profit use only

Loughinisland Parish

Loughinisland village 3 ruined churches & graveyard, Loughinisland Catholic Church, Loughinisland Seaforde village
Seaforde Church of Ireland Seaforde Presbyterian Church Clough Presbyterian Church Clough Non Subscribing Presbyterian Church
Drumaroad Catholic Church Annadorn village Annadorn dolmen  

Loughinisland village

Loughinisland village
7km NW of Downpatrick

The village is 7km NW of Downpatrick .the name means ' lake of the island'. This area was the ancient home of the MacCartans. In 1659 there were 17 English/Scots & 7 Catholic families here There was a school here in 1836. This photo shows the village with the pub on the left and Post Office on the right. The Catholic Church is just down the street on the right. Gaelic Athletic Association is strong in the parish

Articles from Down Recorder newspaper;
Ribbonism 21 Feb 1846; sanitary conditions 29 Nov 1871

References; SP ;DR; OSM


Ancient Loughinisland churches

The Three Ruined Churches of Loughinisland

The parish derived its name from the island which is connected to the mainland by a causeway which contains the ruins of three ancient churches. The oldest church on the island is the one in the middle and it continued in use until the much larger north church (left) was built to replace it in the 15th century . For the next 300 years this rectangular gabled structure served the needs of the Catholics of the area. After the Reformation, Protestants used it also for their service every Sunday after Mass was over.

According to tradition this arrangement broke down in 1720 when on a very wet Sunday, the Catholic congregation remained in the church after Mass and kept the Protestants outside in the rain. This displeased the Forde family so much that they dismantled the old church and erected a new one in Seaforde which was roofed with the timbers of the ancient building. There is some truth in this story but at the same time there was a reorganisation of the parishes so the old church was no longer in the centre of the parish.

Whatever the reason, this left the Catholics without a place of worship. Mass was heard in 'bohogs'. One was in Seavaghan townald called Altar Park, another near Bishops Mountian in Tievenadarragh & Cloughely Rokcs also in Tievenadarragh. Then Dr. Theophilus MacCartan built a small chapel at the corner of the three roads in Tievenadarragh in 1740.

The most interesting of the ruins on the island is the south church (right), known as McCartan's Chapel. Its most striking feature is a low western doorway of dressed Castle Espie limestone with square pilasters supporting a semi-circular arch on which are the initials P.M.C and the date 1636. It could most probably been a private chapel for the McCartans who lived nearby and are buried around it. One inscription is:

"Here lieth ye body of John MacArtan , the Macartan of Kinelarty who departed this life ye 26th day of Sept. 1736 aged 96 years... Phelomey who departed this life the 27th day of June 1761 aged 82 years.... Dominik who departed .... 1772 aged 78 years......."

And another- "This stone records the death of the Revd. Theophilus Macarten, the R.C. Bishop of Down and Connor, and late P.P. of Loughinisland who departed this life on the ..... December, 1778 aged 78 years.

The oldest inscribed tombstone is built into the wall of the north church but originally it was part of a mausoleum to the Byrne Family. It was in Latin and translated means; Maurice Birn lies covered by this pile of stones which, whilst living, he erected at his own expense A.D. 1617. "

Gravestone inscriptions available UHF Vol 9; email me for a gravestone look-up

References;LCB p 19, 20, 21: HMNI p104; GIC; O'L V1 p 94, 106; LM 1994 p59

St Macartsns,Loughinisland

St. Macartan's Catholic Church, Loughinisland
Parochial House- 58 Loughinisland Rd, Downpatrick BT30 8QH Tel; 4481 1661

The first church in Tievenadarragh townland, where the three roads meet ( locally called The Stick) , was built in 1740 by Dr. Theophilus MacCartan to replace the ancient church on the island at Loughinisland, which was dismantled by the Forde family in 1720.

In the autumn of 1787, Father Patrick McCartan built a new church for the parish of Loughinisland and dedicated it to St. Macartan, patron saint of the diocese of Clogher. Its opening presaged the end of acute sectarian animosity and though the penal legislation was still on the statute books, priests carried out their duties openly, but prudently, in most places. So long as Catholics gave no other cause of offence than the unobtrusive practice of their faith, the authorities from then on were prepared to tolerate them. The church took two years to build and the inscription stone in Latin set into the wall above the sacristy door is translated: " This Church built by the donations of the faithful and by our own industry was dedicated to the Lord of all Creation A.D. 1787".

The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1836 describe the church as being 80 feet by 58 feet in a T shape. It was capable of holding 612 people and the floor was paved with stone after the manner of a road and the whole concern is in good repair. The Census of 1861 says that there were 2,700 Catholics in the parish. The parish priest 1847-1860 was Rev. Patrick Dorrian & Rev. James Crickard 1866 -1906.

Click here for a more detailed church history.

20th century priests:
Rev. James Crickard until 1906; Rev. Andrew Tully 1906- 1924; Rev. Archie McKinley 1924- 1944; Rev. James Connolly 1944- 1960; Rev. Daniel McBride 1960- 1971; Rev. Charles Bready 1971- 1981; Rev. Bernard Magee 1981- 2000; Rev Conleth Byrne 2000+

Graveyard attached, earliest grave c. 1920; earlier burials at the old churches; NLI have free copies of microfilmed baptisms 1806-1852 & marriages & burials 1805-1852-; PRONI & NLI have baptism & marriages & burials 1805-1852; UHF has baptisms 1806-1900 & marriages 1805-1900 & burials 1730-1900

References;V17 p95, 97 OSM: LCB p 12,19,47; GIC: TIA: GIPR; O'L V1 p 89 & B p 549;LM 1994 p73, 74 ; DDW p 5


Seaforde village

Seaforde village from the Dromara Road a village & a demesne of 1013 acres 2km N of Clough

The tied cottages in the village ( on the main Clough Road) were built in 1828 to service Seaforde demesne owned by the Forde family. (Today the demesne is open to the public with a Butterfly Farm & Tea Rooms). There is Church of Ireland & Presbyterian churches here and schools in 1836. The population in 1841 was 59 & in 1851 43 & in 1861 52 people; Catholic Parochial House here .I have transcribed the Tithe Applotment records for 19 land holders in the area throughout the Surnames Index 1823-1838.

Many families in Seaforde have strong links to Coolgreaney in Co. Wexford and vice versa.Pre 1860 the Forde family had estates in both these places and their tenants and workers were often switched between the two estates.(Sean McCartan)

Newspaper Articles from Down Recorder;
weekly market 25 Oct 1839; Poor Law district population was 3274 in 30 Nov 1839 ; Dispensary report 16 Apr 1842: Ribbonism 1 Aug 1846: Famine, no evictions 1847; Robert Gordon Esq. presentation from tenantry 8 Nov 1851; barbarous murder of John Gallagher, estate bailiff 6 Aug 1870; fire in McCammon's scutch mill 28 Sep 1878

References; PE; V17 p 94 ,95, 96,OSM; DR & DR* 7/11/2001; GIC; TAB; HCDTD p40


Seaforde Church of Ireland

Seaforde Church of Ireland
the parish Church in Newcastle Road, Seaforde

This parish church was built by the Forde family to service their family and estate, possibly in 1721 as that is the date on a sacramental plate, to replace the shared church on the island near Loughinisland village.It was built on the site old an ancient Catholic church thus local Catholic families still used the graveyard in 19th century. There is a cave in the field next to the churchyard which is about 30 metres long with a circular apartment at the end and a square apartment nearer the entrance, both with stone roofs. There was an inscription on a slab of stone which was unreadable. The old church was built in 1721. Their was a robbery & the alter cloth & other items were taken. Col. Matthew Forde wrote to Chief Secretary's Office, Dublin Castle 16 Dec 1821 requesting that a pardon be granted to one of the accomplices in return for infomation on the others responsible. (CSO)

In 1836 the 'new' church was described as having a high and rather graceful tower and spire made of wood and surrounded by an iron cross. It was capable of holding 250 people. The rector at that time was Rev. Mr. Gordon and the curate Mr. Nisbett. The tithes for the parish were £550 per year. In 1846, the rector was Rev. Hugh Smith Cumming. (POD) & Rev. Thomas Drew in 1868

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
discussion on parishioners 13 Feb 1841; fire in parish church 29 Nov 1862; reopening 20 Dec 1862; enlarged 7 Nov 1863; Orange Order special service 7 Jul 1866; memorial windows 25 Aug 1866; harvest thanksgiving 18 Oct 1937*

LDS has baptisms 1760- 1837, & marriages 1760- 1935 ; burials 1760- 1838 & 1858-1863 are also available ; vestry minutes 1773-1828, 1870- 1956 & registry of church wardens 1891- 1958 at PRONI; Linenhall Library,Belfast has records 1760-1938 -personal visits only ; graveyard attached, gravestones UHF Vol 9; email me for a gravestone look-up

References;V17 p 94,96 OSM: DR ; GIC:GIPR; CSO; O'L v1 p 91; DDW p 5; PPNZ


Seaforde Presbyterian Church

Seaforde Presbyterian Church

This meeting house was built on the site of ancient Catholic chapel. In 1836 it was described as a plain building, capable of holding 250 people , which was paid for by subscription. The minister 11826-1839 was Rev. Robert McCormick & in 1845 was Rev J.A. McMordie & in 1910 was Rev. John Stewart.

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
Rev. W.B. Forde of Seaforde House gave £8 for ceiling renovations 8 Feb 1845; Rev Hugh Hanna 29 Sep 1860; ordination of Rev. John T. Rea 23 Feb 1878; annual soiree 28 Feb 1880; soiree 4 Mar 1882; Sabbath school 5 Jul 1884; church reopened 6 Sept 2000

Baptism from 1826, marriages from 1827 in local custody; UHF have baptisms 1837 -1900; no graveyard

References;V17 p 96 OSM: LCB; DR; GIPR: GIC; BN; DDW p 5; POD


Clough Presbyterian Church

Clough 1st Presbyterian Church- in Clough village behind the Non Subscribing Presbyterian Church

There was a congregation here before 1687 as there was a minister recorded here. This meeting house dates from 1698 and was called Drumca. Its first minister was Rev. Thomas Maxwell. He died in 1705 and was suceeded by Rev. Hugh Ramsay in May 1707 . After his death , the minister was Rev. Hugh Williamson from 31 Jul 1722 until his death in 1748 . The Meeting House was rebuilt about 1735 and paid for by general subscription. Rev. John Williamson (probably Hugh's son) was ordained 4 Feb 1752 . He was succeeded by Rev. Robert Porter on 16 Jun 1773 but was succeede by Rev. William Campbell when he became ill 22 Sep 1813. After Rev. Campbell's death in 1829 a disput arose regarding his successor and the congregation was put under a committee . The next minister was Rev. Francis Dill on 3 Nov 1829. The congregation was annexed by the Synod of Ulster in 1830 to the Presbytery of Dromore. The Meeting House, which in 1836 was described as a small, slated building, capable of holding holding 350 people, had been taken over by the Arians/ Non Subscribers so they commenced a law suit to recover it. They were successful in May 1838 but Rev. Dill was ill. The congregation split over the Arian controversy and a new church was built for Non Subscribers nearby in 1837 . Rev. Dill's successor was Rev. Edward Stuart/Stewart from 3 Feb 1842 until he became infirm and Rev. Robert Scott took over as assistant 4 Jul 1883.

click here for a 19th century account of the church's beginnings

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
Clough minister Rev Dill, son died 24 Feb 184-; Sabbath school 11 Aug 1883;presentation to Rev. Edward Stuart 13 Sep 1884

Records; Linenhall Library, Belfast has records 1791-1934) -personal visits only; graveyard attached, gravestone inscriptions available UHF Vol 9; email me for a gravestone look-up

References; HCPCI p93-94; DR; GIC; MIs


Clough Non Subscribing Presbyterian Church

Clough Non Subscribing or 2nd Presbyterian Church
on Castlewellan Rd

The congregation was formed in 1829 after a splut with Clough Presbyterian Church and this new meeting house was opened on 1 Jul 1837 following a ruling by the Barons of Exchequer in 1836 to give up the other church after the split on doctrine. The cost of the building was defrayed by subscription.Its first minister was Rev. David Watson who kept a diary of its members (indexed throughout Surnames Index). In 1837 it was described as an ornamental building with the front faced in imitation stone and the doorway supported by Ionic pillars. The minister in 1846 was Rev David Watson & Rev. John Dare Davies in 1919 & 1923 & Rev. William Napier from 1867 (still here in 1910).

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
Clough, reopened 6 Dec 1851 installation of new minister Rev William Napier 23 Nov 1867 ; soiree 7 Dec 1867;harvest thanksgiving 28 & 29 Sep 1936*

Records of this church are from 1837 but they did retain the old registers from before the split dating from 1791 which are copied in the Blackwood Collection in the Belfast Linen Hall Library; Linenhall Library,Belfast has records 1791 -1934) -personal visits only; Graveyard attached, gravestone inscriptions UHF Vol 9, oldest stone 1829; email me for a gravestone look-up

References;V17 p 94,96 OSM: DR; V9 MIs; GIPR; GIC; DDW;MIs; HFPNSCD p 64, 258 POD ;


Drumaroad Catholic Church

Drumaroad Catholic Church-St. John the Baptist
SE of the road between Castlewellan & Ballynahinch BT31 9PD Tel; 4481 1474

There was an early mass house on this site in 1731, previously in the ancient parish of Drumcaw. In 1836 it was described as an old thatched building in bad condition, containing some seats and a mud floor. The parish priest at that time was Rev. Patrick Curoe and the curate Rev. Francis McKenny. A new church was started in 6 Jan 1838 but it blew down in a storm. The present church was built in 1841 and restored in 1935. The priest in 1846 was still Rev. Curoe with the curate Rev Richard Killen. Inside the church is a slab of black slate which was part of the altar of the Franciscan Friary of Drumnaquoile. The parish priest in 1877 was Rev. John McCourt. Col. W.B. Forde granted him the lowest legal rent for the site of the church which up to that time had been held by a sort of prescription. By the same lease he granted additional ground for a Parochial House. The church was renovated in 1935 with the old altar stone from Franciscans\of Drumnaquoile placed on the east wall. The bell tower added in 1954. The bell was from the old Drumnaquoile Friary.

List of priests (shared with Clanvaraghan);
Rev John McCourt in 1877, Rev John Cavanagh 1875-1880; Rev Bernard McKenna 1884- 1895; Rev H. Skeffington 1891-1892; Rev John McAllster 1895-1898; Rev Mullumby 1896- 1898; Rev. Patrick McCambridge 1898- 1906; Rev. Daniel O'Reilly 1906- 1934; Rev. Dennis Cahill 1934- 1957; Rev. Richard O'Neill 1957- 1966; Rev. Joseph Maguire 1966- 1977; Rev. Gerard Park 1977- 1987; Rev. Eamonn Magee 1987- 1989; Rev. John Moloy 1989+

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
death notice of parish priest Rev P. Curoe 18 Oct 1873 has registers to view 1853-1880; PRONI & NLI have baptisms 1853- 1881, marriages 1853- 1880 1853; UHF has baptisms & marriages 1853-1900 ; graveyard attached ; the graveyard is around the old schoolhouse; gravestone inscriptions available UHF Vol 9; email me for a gravestone look-up

22nd October 1853 page 2 - Down Recorder newspaper

Charity Sermon at Drumaroad Roman Catholic Church in Loughinisland Parish

The chapel at Drumaroad skirting the mountainous range of Sliabh-an-uisge, in the old parish of Drumca (episcopally united to the parish of Tyrella for the last two centuries and of which the Rev. Patrick Curoe is the present pastor), was one of the earliest built in the diocese of Down, subsequent to the revolution of 1688, under the auspices of that branch of the family of Savage, of The Ards, known as "Drumaroad Savage". Who continued faithful to the religion of their ancestors. The old chapel having become ruinous, the parishioners, who are principally small farmers, from their own resources built a new church about the year 1838, which was blown down and totally destroyed in the great storm which took place on the 6th January 1839. Undeterred by this calamity, they again proceed without other aid than their own, to erect a new building, which has been for some time covered in, but as yet remains unfinished, owing to the want of funds, the interior requiring to be plastered etc and the side galleries to be erected. They are now desirous of also building a school-house, for the purpose of imparting to the rising generation the blessing of a good elementary, moral and religious education; but without assistance they will be unable to achieve their laudable and noble objects. To assist in doing so, and for the purpose of paying off a pressing debt, their worthy pastor found it necessary to call on the generous benevolence of the public and on the 16th inst., a charity sermon was preached in Drumaroad, by the Rev George Maguire Parish Priest of Kilmore, on which occasion the house was densely crowded by parties from the surrounding neighbourhood, Clough, Downpatrick, Castlewellan etc. After the sermon which was most eloquent and happily delivered, a collection was made, the following gentlemen acting as collectors:- Edward Murphy, solicitor, Downpatrick; John Cromie, Scrib; Hugh Shaw, Drumaroad; W. Russell Graham, solicitor, Ballykinler, Clough; Andrew McCammon, Nutgrove; J.W. Hanna, Downpatrick; P. Mooney, Castlewellan; Hugh Murray, Clough; and Patrick Cusack, Seaforde. The collection amounted top upwards of 95 shillings, which it is hoped and expected , will be considerably increased by subscriptions from parties who were unable to attend and who take a deep and lively interest in the promotion of works of charity. The following are the names of those who with others contributed on the occasion:- Rev G. Maguire 1 shilling, Hugh Granham, Belfast 1 shilling, Edward Murphy, solicitor.

For more photos try:

References;V17 p96 OSM:V9 MIs; DR; TIA: GIC :O'L V1 p lxx, 136; HCDTD p26,42, 44-49, 81-101


Village of Annadorn

Annadorn village
1km SE of Loughinisland village on the road to Downpatrick

This old postcard of Annadorn village would have been made around 1905. The name means' ford of the fists' ; dorn means fist.Iit could refer to the family O Dornain-Dornan 'people of the fist'; or dorm also means rocky causeway or the dolman at Bucks Head. This area was the principal ancient seat of McCarten clan. The last vestige of the castle on Castlehill, has long since disappeared.

In 1836 there was a flour mill,a small school, a gravel pit , a smithy and the people had 20 looms for the earlier stages of linen manufacture. The population of the townland in 1841 was 447 & in 1851, 359 & in 1861 290 people;

The estate papers 1886-1906 are in PRONI. I have indexed the information from Griffiths Valuations of 1863 into the Surnames Index

Newspaper article from Down Recorder;
supposed murder of John Vernon 12 Jun 1869

References;TCC p 33; V17 p 95,98 OSM : LCB p81; DR; HMNI p87; O'L V1 p 88; HCDTD p40; GV


by Ros Davies