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

© Rosalind Davies 2001
Permission granted to reprint research for non-profit use only

The Parish of Saul

Saul village Church of Ireland, Saul Ballysugah Catholic Church
St. Tassoch's Catholic Church Carrowcarlin Catholic Church Walshestown Castle
A story about Ballynarry townland Quoile Castle  

 

The village of Saul

The village of Saul
3km NE of Downpatrick

This photo taken around 1915 shows the village of Saul and the dam in the foreground. This dam provided water power for Saul distillery run by J & J Richardson of Downpatrick until 1850, when it was used as a corn mill. The two-storey house at the top of the picture was the village pub and is now the Countryside Inn. The cottage in the foreground was occupied by the Blacks, a family of skilled craftsmen.

This area was the site for St Patrick's first church in 432 AD. It was owned by Earl of Ardglass in 1669 & leased to Edward Kynaston Esq.. In 1752 , it was owned by the Southwell Estate and with the corn mill leased to Alex McKee's executors; the tuck mill leased to Mr. David Caddell. Later owned by heirs of Lord De Clifford in 1836 and described as having good soil, a distillery and corn & flax mill; 1 smithy; Catholic Parochial House here . Saul Cottage here.The population of the patrish in 1871 was 1231 people of whom 876 were Catholics.


articles from Down Recorder newspaper;

.public house outrage 6 Jul 1844: Famine soup kitchens 30 Jan 1847: distillery, stores & mill to be sold 16 Sep 1848;local Ribbonmen marched to Crossgar on St. Patrick's Day 1849 & rioted 10/3/28R*; distillery & mill for sale 14 Aug 1852 ; new starch works at mill 10 Sep 1859; ruin & desolation at graveyard 18 Jan 1873

References;V17 p 112, 114, 115 OSM; LM 1975 p53; LM 1986 p48; LM 1990 p26 (photo c. 1850); LM 1991 p25; LWAG 26, 27; GIC: DR & DR* 7/11/2001; old b/w map P 15; O'L V1 p 217

 

Saul parish church

Saul Church of Ireland- St.Patrick's
in the village- Saul Rd, Downpatrick

The church and graveyard are in the townland of Saul on the old secondary road from Downpatrick to Strangford. The site is the oldest associated with Christianity in Ireland, for here St. Patrick consecrated his 'barn' soon after his landing in 432 AD. He passed his last four years on this spot and may even have been buried here, though Downpatrick has the more likely claim. The erection of Saul abbey took place by the orders of Dichu, a Prior of Down and St. Patrick's first convert.

There was some sort of Celtic monastery here but it was destroyed many times by Viking raiders only to be put on a sure footing by Malachy O Morgair, Bishop of Down, shortly before 1149. The Normans destroyed this Augustinian community and replaced it with their own. It is mentioned in 1663 in a Downpatrick inquisition that the abbey and its lands were in the possession of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Ardglass and proprietor of the Manor of Down. Most of the antiquities on the site are probably of the early centuries after their arrival- a stone-roofed mortuary house ( some say this was St. Patrick's Confessional but it not old enough for that), two fragments of wall, an Anglo-Norman coffin lid and various carved stones and cross-slabs.

The old church was built around 1730 with stones taken from Saul Castle. It was on the site of the old Catholic chapel which was removed. Rev Eugene Magarry was pastor before his death in 1764 . The rector in 1830 was Rev.Edward Custis. The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1834 describe the church then as extremely old . It was rebuilt in 1835 with a grant of £270 from the Board of First Fruits. It is capable of holding 168 people. From 50 to 60 attend in winter and from 130 to 140 in summer. Its dimensions are 60 feet by 30 feet and the vicar was the Reverend R. Gustry.

The oldest dated stone in the graveyard goes back to 1716 and there are four memorial tablets in the church which were transfered from the older building, of which all have been copied and are available.

The old church was replaced in 1932 (see photo above) to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of the landing of St. Patrick at Ringban. Built of Mourne granite, with a modern round tower attached, it is essentially a parish church, but special services are held here on St. Patrick's Day each year, when pilgrims come to meditate and to pray.There is an ancient stone in the grounds. The minister in 1910 was Rev. John McCracken.

Overlooking the parish church and the nearby Catholic church is a huge statue of St. Patrick, erected on Slieve William in 1938 to commemorate the saint's arrival. In 1933 Helen F. McCullen wrote a poem about the rebuilding of Saul Parish Church.

Newspaper article from Down Recorder;
meeting held at the church to establish a soup kitchen for famine relief 23 Jan 1847 * (FCD p 11); article on the Abbey 31 Oct 1857; St. Patrick's Day service 19 Mar 1939*; 70th anniversary of laying foundation stone of new church 4 Jun 1939*

Graveyard attached, gravestone inscriptions UHF Vol 7; email me for a gravestone look-up e ; UHF has baptisms 1817-1900 & marriages 1806-1900 ;

References;V17 p111,112, 113 OSM: LWAG p 26: MID p149,152: DR; GIC: DR 28 Nov 2001; O'L V1 p 237; Inv 2000 p 34;FR; POD; LM 1984 p 30 (photo of old church); LR 2013 cover (photo & old church p65)

 

St. Patrick's Catholic Church

St. Patrick's Catholic Church,

in Ballysugagh or Mountain Quarter townland
Parochial House- 10 St. Patrick's Rd, Saul, Downpatrick BT30 7JG Tel; 4461 2525

The earlier Catholic chapel was erected in 1755, finally finished in 1782 by Dean Paul McCartan. Prior to this the people celebrated Mass in Hugh Crickard's garden or in a field in Loughmoney or at Mr. Napier's in Carnacaw. The priest was Rev. Michael Morgan before his death in 1775. The parish priest 1821 until his death in 1842 was Rev. James Hanna. In 1836 it was described as a plain building with a gallery and 25 seats, capable of holding 400 people. There was a school held in the chapel. That building was replaced in 1866 by the present chapel by Father Crickard with designs by Father Jeremiah R. McAuley. The stone altar is said to be the original altar used by St. Patrick.

PRONI & NLI have baptisms & marriages 1868-1881; UHF has baptisms & marriages 1855-1900, graveyard nearby , oldest stone 1840; older burials in the parish graveyard; email me for a gravestone look-up

For church records try http://alecbanmacconaill.org/Saul.pdf marriages from 1785-1857; baptisms (page 24) from 1795-1819;

References; V17 p 111, 115 OSM: LWAG p 26; GIC; TIA; V8 MIs; O'L V1 p 245 ; LM 1994 p56 , 59 ,64
List of 20th century priests for Saul Parish: Rev. Bernard McGarry until 1933; Rev. Daniel Rhodes 1933-1945; Rev. Thomas McGrattan 1945- 1958

 

Carlkin Catholic Church, Saul

St. Tassoch's Catholic Church,
in Carrowcarlin townland near the Strangford Road , Walshestown

This chapel was erected in 1777 by Rev. O'Neill then finished by Rev. Michael Morgan. It serviced the people on the nearby estates. In 1836 it was described as being in the shape of a T and capable of holding 300 people, with an average attendance at that time of 150 but having only a few seats then. A school was also held in the chapel then . Rebuilt 1866.

Newspaper article from Down Recorder;
a new church built to replace the old one; list of subscribers to building fund 6 Oct 1866;

PRONI & NLI have baptisms & marriages 1868-1881; UHF has baptisms & marriages 1855-1900; gravestones UHF Vol 8

References; V17 p 112, 115 OSM; TIA; DR; GIC; DCPH p 54;LWAG p 26,29: DR 28 Nov 2001; O'L V1 p 220; LM 1994 p56 ; LR 2013 p58,59

 

 

Walshestown Castle

Walshestown Castle

The castle in the photo is a late 16th century tower-house, situated on the southern shore of Strangford Lough, about 6 km from Downpatrick. It derives its names from an Anglo- Norman family which came to Lecale with John de Courcy. They were part of an English colony whose commander in chief was Savage. Other surnames were Russell, Audley, Fitzsimonds, Jordan and Smyth. They all built similar castles. They were followers, fosterers and dependent on the Savage family, rendering them service when required in lieu of land received from them. The records show a Christopher Walshe living in the castle in 1619.

When the Walshe's property was granted to the Andersons in the reign of King Charles 1st, the tower-house was modernised and used as a residence until well into the 19th century, when a daughter of Richard Anderson married Rowland Craig- Laurie, who built the present Myra Castle to replace it.

Captain Anderson was residence there in 1836. it was described then as extremely ancient with a stone staircase covered with wood and made to appear like modern stairs. The Upper part of the castle had been repaired and the interior furnished.
References; V17 p28,112, 114, 115 OSM; O'L V1 p 219 & B p 140; LR 2005 p26 ; LWAG p 32; Inv 2006 p49

 

Typical kitchen of an Irish cottage

Growing up in Ballynarry

A story by Sean Denvir of New York

I was born in Ballynarry in 1924. Our house is located across the road where Ballynagarrick loney ends on the Ballynarry road. This is now called The Glebe road. Our cousins were ten in number as were the McMullans, while Magees and our family were six each.

Our house was typical of many of the farmhouses around the countryside at that time and had a large open coal fireplace in the kitchen with a metal covered hob on each side. Mounted on one side of the fire was a crane with a set of adjustable hangers. Using this apparatus, either a kettle, a pot or a griddle could be suspended at the right height and swung around just above the fire.

All the cooking and baking were done using this fire. The fire served as the main heat source for the house and was the focal point in most farmhouses. House lighting was supplied by an oil lamp which had two wicks and burned paraffin oil. For any work around the farmyard that required lighting, a storm lamp or lantern was used.

We had no radio, television, phone or car but we still had a lot of fun. There were lots of children living nearby and our games were played on and around the cruck. This is a triangular grassy knoll on the top of the hill just west of our house. We played marbles and skittles on the road. Another place to play was Wee Pat's field where we played rounders, cricket, hurling and football.

Other things we did such as gathering and picking potatoes, tying and stacking corn, tying or lapping hay, thinning and snedding turnips, whitewashing , milking cows and braiding. We also travelled to and from Kilclief School across the Ballynahgarrick "Pads" five days a week.

 

The ruins of Quoile Castle

Quoile Castle
on the Quoile river; 2km N of Downpatrick

Quoile Castle is really just a tower-house and was built in the 16th century. It was inhabited by the West family into the 18th century.

From the outside it is almost a square building. At the time of high tide, the sea generally rises 2 or 3 feet above the face of the castle at the western side. The interior is in some degree better; the entrance is by a common doorway at the southern end of the eastern wall. To the right upon entering there are 16 steps run through the eastern gable. The interior doorway on the bare floor is 7 feet in length and 3 feet in breadth and forms a Gothic arch, the sides and top of which are of hewn stone. The interior room or castle vault is also arched. There does not appear to have been any way of letting the light in, when the door is shut. There are opposite to the door, 2 small apertures which are now filled up with stones; in all probability they are modern and made to admit the air. In 1836 it was serving as a cowhouse . Upon ascending the steps, which are formed of stones of all shapes and size, you enter the upper apartment, the floor of which is perfect, resulting from the arched roof of the understorey. There is an old wall still remaining which divides this apartment into two. The best of these rooms is thatched over and is made use of as a barn. At the western end of the northern wall there is another flight of steps, 24 in number, similar to those mentioned, ascending through the north gable and going to the top of the castle. At the top there is a bastian, now much broken. It is in the castellated style, dimensions 33 feet by 27 feet.

Newspaper Article from Down Recorder;
lecture on Quoile Castle 2 Mar 1850 ;death of Robert P. Curran, youngest son of Waring Curran of Quoile Castle 16 Sep 1871

Now in the hands of the Historic Monuments & Buildings .

References; V17 p 112 OSM: L WAG p 23 ; DR: HMNI p 107; LM 1987 p55; LR 2013 p60 (photo)

by Ros Davies