The story of
A project of the Select Vestry of Garvaghy Parish
undertaken by George Musgrave and Paul Thompson
Grateful thanks are due to the members of the Select
Vestry of Garvaghy Parish for their backing of this project and to
Banbridge District Council for the grant towards the printing of this
Many people have helped the authors in this
undertaking by supplying information, both written and verbal, about the
locality. Most appreciated was the personal description of Garvaghy
Primary School provided by Mr J Kerr who was Master from 1939 to 1945.
Individual historians and staff in a range of establishments were also
most helpful in providing sources for research and in pointing the
authors towards further avenues of investigation. Of these, mention must
be made of Dr J R R Wright of Banbridge, Co Down who provided much
valuable help. Thanks are also due to Mrs Pat Musgrave and Mrs Lorraine
Thompson who made an important contribution by proof reading the
By the Reverend Gary Millar
Rector of the grouped Parishes
of Garvaghy and Dromara
It is a great privilege to have been asked to write a
foreword to "The Story of Garvaghy Parish" and to commend it to others.
The special quality of the book is apparent even from its title. The
book tells the unique story of a small rural parish, however, not only
of its buildings but also of a pilgrim people who faithfully responded
to and served God.
The Rev Paul Thompson served as a faithful priest,
pastor and teacher to the people of Garvaghy and now recollects some of
his own memories with those of others as he presents this interesting
historical account of the Parish. Along with Messrs Jack Kerr and George
Musgrave the Rev Thompson takes his readers on a journey which begins
with God's people many years ago in the Celtic Church and continues with
those who faithfully serve Him today and in the years to come. I pray
that those who read this book will be greatly inspired and encouraged to
serve God within this and other Parishes.
Important events and dates that are significant
punctuate the story of any people stretching back over a long period of
time. In the case of Garvaghy Parish the year 1999 marks the 300th
anniversary of the present Parish Church.
The worshipping community and wider society of the
Parish existed long before 1699 and by God's grace will continue to
exist long into the future but 1999 does stand out as an important
anniversary. This provided an impetus to examine the past, to look at
where we have come from and to see how events and people have shaped the
Church and community making them what they are today.
The name Garvaghy comes from the Irish, Garbh
Achadh (the Rough Field) with the Parish of the name being situated
to the east of Banbridge with a length of 6 miles and a width of 4 miles
at the extreme points. The highest point is Carnew Hill at 753 feet
while Gransha Fort on the eastern boundary is 695 feet. Garvaghy Hill,
although lower at 671 feet, has a better view. The Parish is an area of
farms and scattered houses with the main area of human settlement being
the village of Waringsford, formerly known as Mill Town. The Parish
Church is located about 1 mile from the village, near to which is
Garvaghy Presbyterian Church.
The story of the Parish of Garvaghy is one that
stretches far back in time. The Parish Church is part of the Church of
Ireland, a parish of the Diocese of Dromore. This book is not, however,
only the story of a Church building, or of the people who worshipped
there, but of a whole community, rich in its diversity, its past and its
potential. The size of this volume, however, means that this story can
only be told in part. It is hoped, though, that it serves to introduce
people to their past and to the often complex but revealing story of the
present day Churches and community of the Parish of Garvaghy.
EARLY AND MEDIEVAL
The early setting
In the year 432 AD St Patrick landed at Saul in what
is now Co Down and began his mission in Ireland. It is probable that he
was not the first Christian missionary
in the country and that there were already existing small and isolated
groups of Christians founded through trading contacts. It was the
mission of St Patrick that sparked a flame that spread in a relatively
short time throughout the entire island.
The early Irish Church did not encounter the
opposition it did in other countries. This may have had something to do
with the particular form of the Christian faith brought to Ireland.
There are some historical, theological and legendary points indicating
that the main influence on the early Irish Church came from Egypt and
the Christian East generally rather than from the Latin West. Egyptian
Christianity and subsequently the early Irish tradition were of a more
mystical inclination and may have appealed to the native religious
feeling in Ireland.
In these early centuries the Church was organised in
a completely different way to the Church of today. The primary figure in
Church organisation is the Bishop who presides over a fixed geographical
area known as a diocese. The Church then had a monastic basis rather
than a diocesan one. This meant in practice that the Abbot at the head
of a monastery ruled the Church and that the Bishop was under the
authority of the Abbot. There are many instances of monasteries where an
Abbot had several Bishops on his staff. The Abbot was primarily an
administrator while the Bishop was an evangelist and a liturgical
figure. There were no diocesan boundaries, as we know them today.
The Church in Dromore
A major monastic settlement was that of Dromore,
founded by St Mocholmog (Colman) in the 6th century. There are records
of Coarbs (or successors) of Mocholmog from 953 to 1068. The smaller
Church settlements in the countryside, such as that of Garvaghy, were
not parish Churches as we know them today but merely smaller monastic
communities founded probably by members of the larger ones.
Trouble came to the area with the onset of the Viking
raids. The first known attack on Ireland came in 794. In the year 840
the Vikings are known to have sailed into what is now Belfast Lough and
up the River Lagan as far as Magheralin. There they established some
sort of fortified base and made incursions out from it. It is not known
if they penetrated as far as the Dromore area at this early stage. In
the next century, however, Bassett writes that the monastery at Dromore
had secured some considerable wealth and that the Vikings plundered it
on several occasions.
Garvaghy in the days of the early Irish Church
The earliest known date for a Church in Garvaghy is
the 9th century. The evidence is provided by a slab of rock with a cross
inscribed upon it, which was found by the late Mr James Ferguson while
digging a grave. The rock tapers to one end indicating that it was
designed to be placed in the ground almost certainly as a grave marker
for a member of the small monastic community. 'The form of the cross is
of a long upright with a circle around the crossing of the horizontal
lines, which is what is termed a Celtic Cross. The slab and cross have
been examined by the staff of the Ulster Museum in Belfast who dated it
to the 9th or 10th century.
The implication of this find is that although the
present Parish Church dates from 1699 there has been a Church on the
site from somewhere in the region of 800 to 1000 AD. It would have been
a small monastic community whose life would have revolved around a daily
offering of prayer and the ministering to the spiritual needs of the
people of the area.
It would have been natural for these early Church
settlements to be surrounded by a circular earth rampart, inside which
would have been the Church building and the monastic dwellings. The
rampart kept out wild animals and provided security during the night for
the cattle and other animals owned by the monks.
The present outline of the boundary of Garvaghy
graveyard is square but it is likely that has evolved
across the centuries from a circle. The site may well
have been a natural mound that has been accentuated through time to the
present height above the surrounding fields especially to the west. That
there is a stream nearby is typical of early Church settlements, as this
would have been necessary for a water supply for both monks and animals.
The question of Killaney
Near to the Parish Church and still within the Parish
is the townland of Killaney. All the evidence available indicates that
this is also an ancient ecclesiastical site although it is not possible
to give it a date.
The name Killaney in Irish has at least two
possible meanings. One is The ivy-covered Church and another is
The Church of St Ethna. The townland has also been known locally
in the past as The Townland of the Graveyard. The site of the
Church and Graveyard indicated by the names above is on fields belonging
to Killaney House and is known as Strong's Rocks, so called because of
the name of a previous owner of the land. The site consists of a number
of rocks of varying sizes. It is believed that it was an ecclesiastical
community of some importance in the early Christian period. It may have
been a quite separate monastic community to that of Garvaghy or it may
have been an original site that was abandoned with the community moving
to found a new site at Garvaghy.
A time of change in the Irish Church
The organisational pattern and spirituality of the
early Irish Church was quite distinct from the rest of Western
Christendom having more in common with the traditions of the East. In
the early Middle Ages pressure grew on the Celtic Churches in Ireland,
Britain, Brittany and Spain to conform to the established Western norms.
As English influence began to spread in Ireland, a
result of expansionism by the Anglo-Norman Barons, pressure began to
grow on the Irish Church to conform, as had the other Churches. At the
Synod of Kells in 1152 Ireland was divided into 38 dioceses, a clear
sign that the change had begun. After Henry II of England landed in
Ireland in 1172 to complete the conquering of the island begun by his
barons he arranged the Synod of Cashel. This met in 1172 and is seen by
many as marking the terminal decline of the Celtic Tradition in the
Irish Church. Among other things the Synod declared that,
`All sacred offices be henceforth performed
everywhere in Ireland according to the usages of Holy Church as
observed by the Church of England.'
Later in 1216 King John of England directed that no
Irishman be elected bishop. This ensured that whatever the feelings and
beliefs of individual priests and laity the now English and Western
leadership of the Church could determine the future direction and form
of the Church as they wished.
Dromore in the Middle Ages
In the new pattern of Irish Church organisation set
out at the Synod of Kells in 1152 Dromore was not chosen as an Episcopal
See and no Bishop of Dromore is mentioned as being among those who did
fealty to Henry II in 1172.
The first mention of the diocese of Dromore is when a
Bishop of lveagh (Dromore) was a witness to a charter of Malachy, Bishop
of Down concerning the monastic site of Nendrum in 1197. It is probably
the case that the diocese of Dromore (or Iveagh as it was known then)
was established at the Synod which met in Dublin in 1192 under the
presidency of Matthew O-h-Enni, Archbishop of Cashel and Papal Legate.
Things were not only changing on the ecclesiastical
front but also in the wider sphere too. John de Courcy had led the
Anglo-Norman conquest in Ulster but was ousted by Hugh de Lacy in 1203
who became Earl of Ulster. In 1316 his lands passed by marriage to the
De Burgh family. William de Burgh was killed by his own servants in 1333
and after this the baronial title to the lands of Down passed to the
English Crown. The Irish Chieftains who from the beginning had contested
the occupation of the country were the O'Neill, Magennis, McCartan,
Kelly and Macgilmore clans. It was the Magennis Clan who ruled the
territory of Iveagh including the lands of Garvaghy.
In the 13th and 14th centuries the Diocese of Dromore
was one of the smallest and poorest in Ireland. In the Taxation of
1302-06 there is no mention of a Dean and other dignitaries on the staff
of the Cathedral. The presence, however, of an Archdeacon in the Diocese
is recorded. In the 15th century the Church as a whole in Dromore
Diocese was badly neglected. In 1487 the Archbishop of Armagh wrote to
Henry VII saying that the See is void and, desolate and almost
extinct. Most Bishops who held Irish Sees lived in England and had
little concern for the state of the Church. This was carried to such an
extent that from 1480-83 Yvo Guillen, a canon of St. Malo in Brittany,
France, was Bishop of Dromore, in title at least.
The Parish of Garvaghy
The first written record of a Church in Garvaghy is in
1422 when it was named as the Vicarius de Garvagh. It is referred to
again in documents originating with the Archbishop of Armagh dating from
1428, in which officials are instructed to,
Collect and dispose of rents and all tithes of
lands and parishioners of... Garwaghadh [Garvaghy] annexed to the
Bishop of Dromore's table and due to the Archbishop [of Armagh]
during his custody according to ancient and laudable custom.
This refers to the fact that at this time Dromore
Diocese experienced long vacancies between Bishops when the Archbishop
of Armagh carried out the Episcopal duties. It was he then who received
the money that would normally have
gone to the Bishop of Dromore. It is recorded that in
1428 the Archbishop let his lands in the Parish of Garvaghy to a man
called Gyllabrony McKewyn and in 1431 to Philip McKewyn.
The boundary of Garvaghy Parish, reproduced
with the permission of the Controller of H M
Stationery Office (permit number 1289)
The townland of Shanrod in Garvaghy
The Parish Church of Garvaghy would appear to have
been near to a main north-south transport route echoes of which remain
in local stories and folklore. The townland of Shanrod near to the
Parish Church derives from the Irish for old road. The modern roads in
the area follow the low ground but the minor road north to south in the
townland follows a ridge to a crossroads on the summit of a hill in
Fedany. This would be the old road of the townland name. If it is
followed down the ridge it would cross the river Bann at what is now
Katesbridge in the townland of Shannaghan. This crossing point was
protected by a Norman motte situated on the north bank of the river.
In the northwards direction the old road would seem
to have led from Fedany Hill down what is now Shot Lane, across Garvaghy
Church Road and across Enagh Road and down to Aughnaskeagh. Its
direction after that point is uncertain. That Shot Lane is part of the
old road is indicated by the close fitting of the lane within the
landscape and also by the local tradition which spoke of Shot Lane as
being in former times part of a Belfast to Dublin road. Given however
the quite recent origins of Belfast it is more likely that the northern
end of the road was Carrickfergus, a more ancient and important
Another local tradition speaks of a road from Armagh
to Downpatrick passing through the townland of Tullintanvally near to
Katesbridge. It could have been the case that the two roads intersected each other in the region of Katesbridge and
the fortified river crossing.
Similar routes are thought to have had their origin
in the post-Patrican era or earlier. One such ancient road led from
Dunseverick Castle on the north coast of Co Antrim to Tara the seat of
High Kings of Ireland. It is certainly possible that the road of Shanrod
is of similar antiquity. Such a road, following the higher ground, could
have been used for centuries until there was the ability to construct
more direct routes across what had previously been uninviting boggy
It is therefore feasible that the Shanrod/Shot Lane
route could have been established in the pre-Christian era (it is near
to a Standing Stone), been used in the early Christian period (it is
near to Garvaghy Church with its 9th century site date) and been
utilized in the Middle Ages (its crossing of the river was guarded by a
THE 16th AND 17th CENTURIES
During the years of Reformation the Church throughout
Ireland was in a state of upheaval. The aim of the reformers was to
restore the Church to what was seen as a purer and more Biblical pattern
of belief and worship. The Church was still directed from England, which
meant that the Reformation had a very English tone to it. A major theme
of the reformers across Europe was that the Church's worship and
Scriptures should be in the language of the people instead of in Latin.
In Ireland, however, due to English policy the Liturgy and the
Scriptures were translated into English not Irish, the language of the
vast majority of the people. This was a great failure of the
Reformation. From this time the ancient Irish Church was divided. The
Bishops and a minority of the laity went with the process of Reformation
and a majority of the laity and a number of clergy preferred to stay
with that part of the Irish Church which remained in communion with the
Pope. It is from this era and division that the Anglican (Church of
Ireland) and Roman Catholic Traditions in Ireland derive in their modern
The Reformation however was also a time of
continuity. No new Church was formed; the old Church was reformed. The
three-fold orders of Bishop, Priest and Deacon were maintained. The
Daily Office was still recited and the Sacraments were still celebrated.
In 1546 the Parish of Garvaghy was assessed at 3
marks, under the title of the Vicarius de Garvagh, at the taxation of
the Diocese. This rate was an average one for the era. At this time the
Bishop of Dromore was the Rt Rev Art Magennis of the ancient Magennis
family. He was Bishop of Dromore from 1540 to 1575. He accepted Royal
Supremacy in 1550 when he was pardoned for having received a Papal
provision. Despite this he was still recognised as Bishop during the
reign of Queen Mary.
Plantation and War
Each of these events touched the locality of Garvaghy
but their origins lay in other places. In 1603 Hugh O'Neill, Earl of
Tyrone, surrendered to Lord Mountjoy who led the English government's
army in Ireland. Later in 1607 he and other Ulster noblemen left Ireland
for mainland Europe. This has become known as the Flight of the Earls.
James I then took their lands and began a programme of colonisation.
This action initiated in 1609, known as the Plantation, led later to the
war of 1641. The Irish, one quarter of whom it has been estimated still
belonged to the Church of Ireland in the early 16th Century were driven
off their lands to make way for the English and Scottish settlers. Most
of the Scots were Presbyterian and so another religious dimension was
introduced into Ireland.
War finally broke out in 1641 between the Irish and
the English and Scottish Settlers and much bloody conflict was seen
throughout County Down. The Irish forces attacked the Churches of
Garvaghy, Dromara and Magherally. The buildings would almost certainly
have been thatched and so would have burned easily. In Dromore the town,
Cathedral and Bishop's Palace were also attacked and largely destroyed.
Narrow Water Castle was captured and Sir Con Magennis took the castle
and town of Newry.
The Vicar of Garvaghy Parish at this time was the Rev
Patrick Dunkin who had only a short time previously been married by
licence in Lisburn, 14th April 1640 to Elizabeth Tompson. At the same
time as being Vicar of Garvaghy he was also Vicar of Donaghmore, Co Down
and it was here that he was living in 1641. He and his family were
driven from Donaghmore in the rebellion but later he petitioned the
crown for restoration which was granted 26th September 1660.
Despite initial success throughout Ireland by the
Irish forces it was the English forces that in the end won the war.
These were not the forces of the King but of Cromwell and Parliament who
had been victorious in the English Civil War.
With the execution of King Charles I and the
abolition of the monarchy in England, the country was proclaimed a
Commonwealth with Oliver Cromwell as the Protector. He at once set about
subduing Ireland with considerable force and implemented his creed in
England and Ireland with his weighty authority.
Cromwell instituted an Inquisition of 1657 to determine the state of
the Irish Church. It was reported that in the case of Garvaghy the
remaining walls of the Church were no more than one yard in height. The
building was not repaired and no more is known of Garvaghy until the end
of the century and the building of the present Parish Church.
In the case of Garvaghy and other similar Churches the new government
decreed that the money which in times past had gone to the Rector and
the Bishop would now be given to the government. The Inquisition of 1657
reported that in the past the Rector or Prebend had received the tithes
of ten townlands while the Bishop received those of four. It was the
money from these fourteen townlands that was to go instead to the
Oliver Cromwell carried out his own reformation of the Irish Church.
A Presbyterian settlement was forced upon the Church, the Book of Common
Prayer was banned, bishops were sacked and the great liturgical and
spiritual legacy handed down from the early Irish Church was neglected
and abandoned. Many senior clergy managed to have a good life in an
enforced retirement but other faithful bishops and priests waited
patiently for a restoration and persisted in using the Book of Common
Prayer in secret, risking imprisonment by doing so. One of the latter
was a priest named Jeremy Taylor who would later be appointed Bishop of
This all was to have a local implication for Garvaghy and surrounding
districts for the first Presbyterian minister to preach in the area did
so in St. John's Parish Church, Dromara, which had not been as badly
damaged as that of Garvaghy.
With the restoration of the monarchy to the English throne in 1661
the Irish and English Churches reverted to the episcopal tradition
again. An English priest, Jeremy Taylor, was appointed Bishop of Down,
Dromore and Connor on the 21st June 1661 and remained there until his
death in 1667. He had been born in Cambridge and baptised in 1613. His
most famous books are Holy Living and Holy dying. He was instrumental in
rebuilding many of the Churches of the three dioceses ruined in the War
of 1641. He died in Lisburn 13th August 1667 and was buried at Dromore
Cathedral. He was a faithful priest and bishop, a liturgical scholar of
the first rank, a person of great spiritual wisdom and a man who cared
deeply about the Irish Church.
A revision of the Prayer Book was carried out at this time and a new
Book was published in 1662. Presbyterian ministers who had been
appointed to parish Churches during the Commonwealth era were given the
choice of accepting Episcopal ordinations or losing their positions. In
Dromore Diocese, as elsewhere, some took the first option and some the
Garvaghy Parish between Restoration and Rebuilding.
In the year 1679 the Rev Samuel Hudson was appointed to the Vicarage
and it was recorded that at that time the Church was in a ruinous
condition. Upon leaving Garvaghy in 1685 he became Vicar of Devlin, in
the Diocese of Meath, where he remained until 1709.
The Rev John Wetherby who had been born in Eaton, Cheshire, followed
him in Garvaghy. During his ministry in the area from 1686 to 1694 he
was Vicar of not only Garvaghy but also simultaneously of Dromara and
Magherally. This situation was a natural result of the ruinous state of
the Churches and the slow recovery of the community after the 1641 war
and Commonwealth repression.
The rebuilding of the Church
The year 1699 is an important one in the story of the Parish of
Garvaghy for it was in this year that the present Church building was
built and consecrated. No details are available about the rebuilding of
Garvaghy Parish Church but it is thought that the remains of the older
medieval walls were used as the foundations for the new ones.
The Vicar at the time was the Rev William Johnston who had been
Instituted in the parish in 1694 and remained there until his death in
November 1716. In a Visitation of 1694 he was warned to reside in the
Parish within three months and later after the rebuilding it was
recorded that he did indeed live in the Parish while carrying out his
Throughout this period Garvaghy Parish was still linked with Dromara
and Magherally which also had ruined Churches and small numbers of
The Parish and the roads
From 1615 to 1765 the main responsibility for maintaining the roads
of Ireland lay with the Parishes and for a further thirty years Northern
Irish Parishes continued to look after byroads in their areas. This was
the position in Co Down and so while Garvaghy Parish Church was being
built and the episcopal tradition being restored after Cromwell's
Commonwealth the work of road maintenance would have continued. This was
a vital work because good means of communication were needed if the
country was to prosper and goods were to be transported to where there
The Irish legislation regarding road maintenance was based on English
laws of 1555,1563 and 1576, which required the constables and
Churchwardens to appoint two people of the parish, annually on the
Tuesday and Wednesday of Easter week, to be in charge of road works.
They also indicated six days on which any necessary work was to be
carried out, the six days having to fall before 24th June, the Feast of
St John the Baptist. These days were then announced in Church on the
Sunday after Easter. To carry out the work each occupier of land that
was ploughed or every person who owned a plough had to provide a cart,
with horses and two men to accompany it as well as two further men with
tools. Each householder, cottier and labourer, except for servants who
were hired by the year, had also to work on the roads for the six days
or if unavailable had to provide someone else instead. On each of the
six days eight hours work was required. The Directors of the work were
permitted to obtain material for the maintenance from within the parish
and if any payment was necessary it was to be met by the parish. Over
the 150 years that this legislation was in place the requirements were
changed and adapted to meet new situations and circumstances. When the
legislation was abolished the Irish House of Commons permitted vestries
in Ulster to raise money from landowners in order to maintain byroads in
the parishes. The vestries of the parishes continued exercise this
responsibility until 1796.
The Waring family and Garvaghy in the 18th century
The parishioners of Garvaghy started the 18th century
with a new Church building. This era was one of many developments yet at
the same time it also raises many questions the first of which concerns
the identity of the family or individual who provided financial backing
for the building of the Church. It is not possible to be certain but it
is likely that the Waring family fulfilled this role. Henry Waring,
fifth son of William Waring of Waringstown, built a mansion house in the
parish on the mill quarter of Tullyniskey. This house occupied the ridge
of land beyond the river plane opposite Waringsford village. The
locality came to be named after both the Waring family and a ford over
which the road to the house passed. Before this time the area was known
as the Milltown and it is described as such in a deed of 1622. Henry
Waring died in 1716 and the name Waringsford is first recorded in 1718.
He was succeeded by his son, also named Henry, who in
turn was succeeded by his only child, Ann Phyllis Waring. On 21st March
1766 in Bangor, Co. Down, she married Captain John Knox of 46th Regiment
of Foot. Captain Knox, a brother of Lord Northland, is buried in the
Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Tenby, Wales. Tenby was then a
popular place with the wealthy classes and Captain Knox died there after
a lengthy illness. The following is the inscription on a flagstone on
the floor of the north aisle,
`Here lieth the body of John Knox, Esq., of
Waringsford, Co. Down, Ireland, only brother of Lord Viscount
Northland, who served as a Captain in the 46th Regiment in America,
and at the siege of Havana, the war before the last, with credit and
honour, who departed this life June 1st, 1791, aged 57 years.'
His eldest son, Henry Waring Knox, was born in 1768.
In 1785 he joined the 13th Dragoons and in 1789 the 9th Regiment of
Foot. Like his faAther he was a keen hunter and kept a pack of hounds at
Waringsford. He was elected to the exclusive Down Hunt in 1796 and it is
recorded that he entertained John Peel at his house at Waringsford. He
is reputed to have enjoyed life to the full but he had a sad end to his
life. There were financial troubles and so he fled to France where he
became a prisoner of war in Paris and where on 29th November 1809 he was
hanged aged 41 years.
Edward Workman and the Parish Communion Silver
Several pieces of Communion Silver are relatively
recent in origin but two date from 1714 and were made by Mr Edward
Workman. The chalice, which is 101/2" high and weighs 15ozs., is
hallmarked on rim and foot and is inscribed "Church at Garvaghy". The
paten is circular and was designed to be a cover for the chalice. They
would have been arranged as such during the Eucharist prior to the
Offertory and after the communion when the ablutions had been carried
out. These two pieces were made in Dublin.
Mr Edward Workman was one of the best Irish
goldsmiths of his day. He was born in 1678, the son of Richard Workman,
a tanner of Portadown. The Workman family was Scottish in origin and
seems to have settled in Co. Armagh about 1620. The family seems to have
done well financially for they were later able to buy substantial
holdings of land in the region of Lurgan and Portadown. The family
belonged to Drumcree Parish Church and it was there in the Parish
graveyard that Edward's father was buried in 1713.
Edward left Portadown in 1693 to become an apprentice
goldsmith in Dublin and in 1702 he was sworn in as a Freeman of the
Dublin Goldsmith Company. He was later to be Warden of the Company
(1704-1711) and was eventually to rise to become its Master in 1712. His
first marked piece of work to have survived to the present is a
tablespoon, which is currently held in the Holburne Museum, Bath. This
dates from 1699. He died in 1719 shortly after being elected as
Churchwarden of his Parish Church in Dublin.
There are no existing records of the circumstances
under which the items of Communion Silver were commissioned and
purchased. That a well known and prominent goldsmith was the person
given the commission implies that the Parish, recovering as it was from
the effects of the war of 1641 and therefore probably quite poor, had a
wealthy patron. It is likely but not completely certain that this patron
was a member of the Waring family of Waringsford.
18th century developments
The acquisition of the high quality Communion Silver
was not the only step forward made by the Parish in the decades after
the rebuilding of the Church. In 1743 the bell, still in use, was
purchased and placed in position. Further developments of a more
far-reaching nature took place in 1780 when the Church building was
renovated. It was at this time that the Vestry room was built. It is
also recorded that the chancel was also reconstructed but there is,
however, no record of the nature of the chancel and sanctuary prior to
Linen seals and Garvaghy
In the 18th century linen was an increasingly major
element in the economy and Garvaghy was no exception. The linen as it
came from the loom was a brown colour. Linen drapers, who were often the
bleachers or their agents, bought these brown webs of linen from the
weavers. The business was carried out weekly at fairs or markets. During
the latter part of the 18th century most towns had such brown linen
fairs. In the open street or in brown linen halls the drapers agreed a
price with each weaver and later in the day measured out the webs and
paid the weavers. This method of working often led to allegations of
dishonesty and so in 1764 Parliament supported the Linen Board's
decision to appoint Sealmasters to inspect the cloth and stamp it if it
was of sufficient quality. These brown linen seals were issued by the
Irish Linen Board from 1764 to 1823. A stamp gave the weaver's name, the
parish or town and the county. There is a surviving seal issued to a
weaver named John McMurran of Garvaghy Parish in 1782 and which was
valid until 1798. This particular seal was 1 7/8" by 2 3/8" and had an
image of a spinning wheel on it. The name, parish and county are all in
capitals 1/4" high.
1798 and the United Irishmen
Towards the end of the 18th century Ireland moved
again towards conflict, a progression which culminated in the fighting
of 1798 between the forces of the United Irishmen and those of the
Crown. The reasons for this conflict and the details of it are not going
to be discussed here, being more than adequately covered elsewhere. The
conflict did, however, have a strong local dimension.
The battle of Ballynahinch on Wednesday 13th June
1798 with its defeat of the United Irishmen was a turning point of the
conflict. The cause of the United Irishmen had a lot of popular support
amongst the people of Ballynahinch and the surrounding areas, including
the active support of a number of Presbyterian clergy.
General Monro led the United Irishmen who advanced on
and occupied Ballynahinch. Their first encounter with the Government
forces, under the command of General Nugent, was on the evening of 12th
June 1798. The United Irishmen withdrew from the town and Windmill Hill
to Ednavady Hill. The main battle commenced early the following morning,
Wednesday 13th June.
The United Irishmen had between 5000 and 7000 troops,
1000 of whom deserted on the eve of the battle. They had eight 1-pounder
mounted swivel guns. The Government forces had by contrast between 2000
and 3000 troops, six 6-pounder guns and two howitzers. The result was
defeat for the United Irishmen. Claims of casualties of the battle vary
from 140 to 500 dead but it has to be remembered that on top of this
many United Irishmen were killed in the aftermath of the battle.
The Vicar of Garvaghy in 1798 was the Rev Thomas
Beatty who worked hard to prevent the excesses that tended to follow a
battle from spreading into Garvaghy. Riding his horse he visited those
in authority and pleaded for restraint. For his work he was presented
with a good horse and the necessary riding items.
Betsy Gray and Garvaghy
Some of those killed in the aftermath were the now
famous Betsy Gray, her lover and her brother. They had taken part in the
Battle of Ballynahinch with Betsy being apparently armed with a pistol.
After the defeat they fled along with many others but while trying to
cross a river about 1 1/2 miles from Ballynahinch a detachment of the
Hillsborough Yeomanry Infantry caught Betsy.
The men began to come to her aid but they were
killed. Betsy's hand was cut off with a sword in the ensuing struggle
after which she was shot in the head. The bodies were later found by
friends who then buried them in a shallow grave. Mr James Gray erected a
memorial on the site in 1895 but this was destroyed in 1898. A strong
and well founded tradition states that Betsy's body was disinterred from
the shallow grave when the repercussions of the battle had subsided and
that it was re-buried in the graveyard of Garvaghy Parish Church.
Some historians maintain that Betsy was born at
Six-road-ends, between Newtownards and Bangor, while others insist that
she was born in a house on the outskirts of Waringsford, in the townland
of Tullyniskey in the Parish of Garvaghy.
A John Gray appears on the rental lists of the
Waringsford Estate dated 1788 as a holder of 15 acres in the townland of
Tullyniskey. The Church registers, since destroyed, recorded that he had
married Rebecca Young, daughter of John Young of Tullyniskey, in 1774.
It was also recorded in the registers that their daughter Elizabeth was
baptised on 14th January 1780. John Gray died in September 1795 and
Rebecca in October 1813. Each was buried in Garvaghy Parish Graveyard.
Was their daughter Elizabeth the Betsy Gray of the Battle of
The Rev James Birch Black, in a letter dated, "Marybrook,
Dromara, Thursday July 9th 1818" states,
`As to the rebel girl Gray, my uncle
knew her well. He says she was a pretty lass with
golden curls, a fair daughter of humble parents.'
In a letter, dated May 10th 1799, written by James
Sprott of Ednego, Dromara, bailiff to the Knox Estate (formerly that of
the Waring family) and addressed to Captain H W Knox of York Place,
London, it is stated that,
`As directed, sir, James Graham has now builded
and slated the house of the poor widow Gray whose daughter Eliza was
buried at the Battle of Ballynahinch.'
Whatever, therefore, the details of her life and
death it does seem certain that Betsy Gray had strong affiliations to
the Parish of Garvaghy. In her life and tragic death the Battle of
Ballynahinch and the Rising of 1798 in general took on a very
individualistic and local feeling.
The 18th century had closed with contlict but the
19th century opened with different concerns. It was the era of
emigration and the famine, of increasing education and of
industrialisation. All of this affected the Parish of Garvaghy and its
The story of the Roman Catholic Church
The first building erected for the celebration of the
Liturgy for the Roman Catholic Community of Garvaghy was a Mass Shed in
the townland of Ballela. These were difficult times for Roman Catholics
but the members of the Church persisted and in 1822 work was commenced
on building a Church. This work was commenced by the Very Rev Hugh
McConville PPVG, of Dromore, who was assisted by Mr Roger Magennis. It
was dedicated All Saints Church. It was later renovated in 1846 by the
Rev J Sharkey PP and dedicated by the Most Rev Dr Blake, Bishop of
Dromore, on 20th May 1849.
It was once again renovated in 1950 under the
guidance of the Very Rev James Murray. The rededication was carried out
by the Most Rev Dr O'Doherty in September 1950. Bishop O'Doherty
presided at High Mass, which was celebrated by the Rev E Devlin. The
Deacon was the Rev J Mooney and the Subdeacon was the Rev J McEvoy. The
preacher was the Rev Edward Campbell of Newry.
In time this Church building was felt to be inadequate
for the needs of the Parish and so the decision was taken to erect a new
Church building. This building, also dedicated All Saints, was
consecrated by his Lordship the Most Rev Gerard Brooks, Bishop of
Dromore, on Sunday 9th May 1994. The architect was Felix Forte of McLean
and Forte, Malone Road, Belfast. The cost of the project came to
The story of the Presbyterian Congregation
There had been Presbyterians living in the Parish
since the 16th century but they had worshipped before 1713 in Magherally
and then later in Dromara. Although the Presbyterians of Garvaghy joined
with those of Dromara they retained a separate identity. They paid their
part of the Minister's stipend independently and received a separate
receipt. This degree of independence was also to be seen on the
Communion tokens with the letters D-G being represented. These stand for
A separate congregation of Garvaghy was established
later, not because of distance, but because of the strong internal
Presbyterian doctrinal disputes of the late 18th and early 19th
centuries. In broad terms the Dromara congregation was of the liberal or
"New Light' persuasion while the Presbyterians of Garvaghy were of the
Secessionist tradition which was essentially conservative and
On May 14th 1799 the Presbyterians of Garvaghy
presented a petition to the Down Secession Presbytery from 61
subscribers requesting someone, `To preach the Gospel amongst them for
some Sabbaths'. It was not long before a Congregational Committee was
formed and at a Presbytery Meeting held on April 21st 1801 provision was
made for determining the boundaries between the new congregation of
Garvaghy and those nearby.
In January 1803 the Congregation asked for permission
to call a Minister and promised a stipend of �38 for the first year and
the sum of �40 for each year thereafter. Mr Isaac Allen, of Co. Down,
was called to be the first Minister and he was ordained on 2nd November
1803 for the congregation in the field where the Meeting House was to be
The Meeting House was built in 1803 and opened in
1804. It was on the site of the Presbyterian Graveyard. It was described
as a plain building with a thatched roof. Each family paid for the
erection of their own pew. The weekly Sabbath service generally lasted
three hours and included two sermons and an exposition of a Psalm. The
Communion Services lasted for five or six hours, usually though with a
break for refreshments.
The Watch House
The 1832 Anatomy Act allowed the bodies of paupers in
workhouses and hospitals to be taken and used by medical students.
Before this change in the law the shortage of bodies meant that
graveyards were under threat of being raided and recently buried bodies
being dug up to supply this lucrative market. Bodies were of little use
once they had begun to decompose and so people would often keep watch
for several weeks until the period of risk was over. The main areas in
which these grave robbers worked was the east coast of Ireland and
especially the east coast of Co Antrim which was close to medical
establishments of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Some Churches built a Watch
House or Corpse House in which a coffin could be locked for a few weeks
until the process of decomposition was well under way. Then the burial
could take place safe in the knowledge that the body would be of no use
for anatomical purposes. The foundations of such a Watch House may be
seen at Garvaghy Parish Church across the path from the west door. What
was the interior of the House has become regular grave plots. The
practise in Garvaghy would probably have been the same as in other
localities in that either relatives of the deceased would have organised
a rota to watch or someone would have been paid to do the job.
1820, Garvaghy Rectory
The Rectory was built in 1820 and had 74 acres in its
glebe. It was erected for the sum of �800 of which �400 was given as a
gift and �400 was borrowed from the Board of First Fruits. After the
disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1870 the Church
Commissioners sold all glebe lands, which were usually set in several
small tenancies. The Select Vestry of Garvaghy Parish bought back the
Rectory and four (Irish) acres for �700. It was later sold when the
Parish of Garvaghy was grouped with the Parish of Dromara in 1885. Some
years later it was purchased by the congregation of Garvaghy
Presbyterian Church for use as the Manse for its Minister. It was sold
again, however, in 1997.
1834, Ordnance Survey of Garvaghy Parish
In 1834 a survey of Ireland was carried out and
Lieutenant G A Bennett made the statistical return for the area of
Garvaghy Parish, 29th October 1834. The following is a summary of
The Parish is situated partly in the upper and
partly in the lower barony of Iveagh with an extreme length of six
miles and a width of four miles. The total acreage is not mentioned
but he reported that 241 acres were uncultivated and that 25 1/4
acres were lakes. It was pointed out that the River Bann ran through
the south-west end of the parish and that a branch of the River
Lagan passed through it in the area of Waringsford. There were
numerous other smaller streams which were of sufficient volume in
winter to power mills but which were dry in the summer.
He identifies the lakes as,
- Corbet Lough -partly in Garvaghy Parish and partly in
- Knockgorm Lough -11 acres, in the centre of the townland of
that name. On its southern shore is a swamp of 12 acres which
before drainage work prior to the 1830s had been part of the
Lough. The high bank or island, which had been at the centre of
the Lough but �n1834 lay at the southern shore is artificial.
Lieutenant G A Bennett reported that there was a possibility of
the Lough being drained in the near future.
- Lough Dugh (or Dhu) - "the Black Lake" is situated in the
valley which separates Shanrod from Knockgorm townlands. It was
reported that a turf bog surrounded it and that the area to the
south was good quality pasture.
- Lough Kock -also known as Lough Craig. It was reported that
this lay one mile north of Lough Dhu. It was overgrown with
weeds and was in effect part of Shanrod bog.
The OS Returns indicate that the bogs of the
Parish supplied fuel to the local residents and the surrounding
areas. The largest of the bogs was the Flow Bog, with 32 1/2 acres
in the Parish, and the Gall Bog with 57 acres in the Parish. A lot
of turf from the latter was sent to Banbridge. It was reported that
at some stage prior to 1834 the road through the Gall Bog had been
used as a racecourse.
In terms of trees the Parish was described as
being rather bare. The demesne of Waringsford contained 31 acres of
mature trees, principally fir and at Sion Hill there was a small
plantation of about 20 years growth. At the east end of Carnew Mr
Macreedy's land was planted as was that of Mr Maginnis in Ballyilly.
Population and people
The principal area of population was Waringsford,
also known as Mill Town. It was recorded that the house of the
Waringsford demesne was in ruins and that the existing Gentlemen's
seats were Carnew House (Mr McCreedy), Ballyilly House (Mr Maginnis),
Carnew Cottage (Mr Cosby) and the
Glebe House (the Rev Mr Hamilton). Each of these
houses was, however, described as being plain buildings.
The population in 1834 was reported to be mainly
Presbyterian and Roman Catholic with the members of the Established
(Anglican) Church having the smallest numbers. The houses of the
local population were made generally of stone and thatched.
There were six schools in the Parish of Garvaghy,
one in each of the following townlands -Fedany, Tullyniskey, Shanrod,
Carnew, Castlevennon and Corbally.
A number of mills were mentioned in the report.
There was a large corn mill on a branch of the River Lagan belonging
to Mr Hammond. There were also corn and flax mills on a stream
between Garvaghy and Fedany, in the south of Shanrod and in
Ballyillmore. It was reported that weaving did not prevail to the
extent that it did in other areas but that on a small scale it
supplemented the income of many small farms.
In 1834 Petty Sessions were held in Banbridge and
Dromara but there was no resident magistrate.
1836, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners
The report of
the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1836 sheds a little light on
some aspects of the Church's presence in the Parish.
Some financial observations are made including that
the Church spent:
�37-2-5 on the care of "Foundling and poor
�2 - on coffins for the poor,
�0 -10 on watching the Churchyard and
�1 - on whitewashing the houses of the poor in order to prevent
The Church also spent 15s on Communion Elements with
an observance being made that the Holy Communion was celebrated four
times each year.
1837, a report on the Parish
This was made by Mr J R Ward and refers to the
period from December 1836 to July 1837. He supplies a detailed
description of the Parish Church, mentions the Presbyterian Church
of Garvaghy, remarks on several mills and gives a report on the
schools of the Parish.
The Parish Church
He described the Parish Church of Garvaghy, in
the townland of Fedany, as a stone building, rough cast and
whitewashed. The report indicates that there was no tower and that
the bell was housed in a small erection of masonry over the west
gable. The building measured, apart from the porch, 60 Feet in
length and 30 feet in width. The condition was described as neat and
the aisle was paved with limestone. There were twelve pews which
could hold 120 people and Mr Ward reported that the Sunday
attendance was easily that number. He also reported that in 1837 the
Church building was undergoing repairs and that the estimated cost
was �28. This amount was going to be covered by a grant from the
Church Commissioners. There is, however, no indication as to the
nature of the repairs.
Mr Ward mentions very briefly four mills in the
Parish. One in Tullyorior, built in 1823, was in a ruinous
condition. There were also two in Ballyilly, one of which was built
in 1835 while the date of the other is unknown. Tullyniskey also had
a mill but the date of it was uncertain as well.
The five schools mentioned in the report were at
Castlevennon, Tullyorior, Ballooly, Shanrod and Fedany (the Parish
School). In the statistics supplied in the report the word
Protestant refers only to members of the Established Church of
This was built in 1829 and was visited by the Vicar of the
Parish, the Rev Hugh Hamilton. Those on the roll were, 1
Protestant, 4 Roman Catholics and 30 Presbyterians. The Master
was Joshua Moore, a Presbyterian.
This was a very small school built in 1829. It was also
visited by the Rev Hugh Hamilton. Those on the roll were, 3
Protestants, 7 Presbyterians and 30 Roman Catholics. The
Mistress was Elizabeth Downey, a Roman Catholic.
Ballooly National School
Ballooly School was built in 1834 and was visited by the Rev
Hugh McConville of the Roman Catholic Church. For religious
instruction the Authorised Version of the Bible was used. Those
on the roll were, 100 Roman Catholic and 10 Presbyterians. The
Mistress was Margaret Watson, a Roman Catholic.
This was a thatched building erected in 1828 and was
visited by the Rev Hugh Hamilton. Those on the roll were 20
Protestants, 36 Presbyterians and 4 Roman Catholics. The Master
was Hugh Piper, a Presbyterian.
The Parish School
It is not known exactly when this school was built but
from the report given by Mr Ward it would seem to have been in
the late 1760s. This was not the building currently used by the
Parish as a hall, which was a former school, but on the opposite
side of the road outside the boundary of the Churchyard. This
school too was visited by the Rev Hugh Hamilton. Those on the
roll were 38 Protestants, 182 Presbyterians and 5 Roman
Catholics. The Master was James McKeown, a Presbyterian.
1843, Churches and schools
In the Parliamentary Gazetteer of 1843/44 it was
reported that between 80 and 100 attended the Parish Church while
each of the two Presbyterian Meeting Houses had an attendance of
about 300. The Roman Catholic Chapel had an average attendance of
between 500 and 600. The population of the day could be divided
2,131 of the Presbyterian Church
1,981 of the Roman Catholic Church
1,033 of the Established Church.
There were six Sunday Schools, with an enrolment
of 245 children, and a total of eight day schools. Of the latter,
one was salaried with �8 from the Association for Discounting Vice,
and three with �4, �6 and �7 from the London Hibernian Society. The
total enrolment of the day schools was 300 boys and 233 girls.
The Rutherford Evictions of 1851
In the townland of Shanrod there occurred one of
the first public demonstrations in the North of Ireland aimed at
putting right the wrongs done to the tenant farmers by some of the
landlords. The Rutherford evictions in the townland of Corbett in
1851 provided the spark to set off the demonstrations. The movement,
led by Mr William Sharman Crawford and Mr James McKnight, gathered
pace and bore fruit in the later Parliamentary measures such as the
Land Act of 1881.
1856, a report of the Parish School
In the report of the Endowed Schools of Ireland
Commission of 1856 mention is made of Garvaghy Parish School. The
school site and the land adjoining it came to 1 acre, 2 roods and 19
perches with the premises having an estimated value of �5.12.0. The
annual salary of the Schoolmaster was �8 and the object of the
School is stated to have been,
`To teach children, selected by the
minister, English, arithmetic and Church catechism to children
of members of Established Church under regulation of minister.'
There was no playground and the school room was
reported to be suitable for 75 children. There were 84 children on
the roll (38 Protestants, 2 Roman Catholics and 44 Presbyterians)
with an average attendance of 42. The Inspector's report states that
the school was found to be unsatisfactory.
The report also mentions a school built at Carnew
in 1827 on lands held with a 99 year lease from Mr. Andrew Cowan.
There were 107 children on the roll.
Famine and emigration
Throughout the 19th century the famine and
emigration were major features and they left a lasting imprint upon
Irish society. The famine came about as a result of over reliance
upon the potato crop. It was not that Ireland did not or could not
realise pork, beef or dairy produce but that these were largely
exported to England. When the potato blight struck in 1845 vast
swathes of the population were exposed to risk.
In Co Down as a whole there were areas that were
acutely affected by the famine while others were relatively
untouched. No details are available for the Parish of Garvaghy but
the area did come under the jurisdiction of Banbridge as far as the
Workhouses were concerned. It was here that people went when all
other resources had failed. One example of the pressure on places in
the local Workhouses is that in the week ending 20th February 1847
the Banbridge Workhouses held a total of 1,032 people in
accommodation designed for 848.
The famine, or more correctly famines, resulted
in the start of emigration from Ireland to the USA and Australia.
This loss of population continued long after the immediate effects
of the famine. Below are some population statistics for Co Down
illustrating the change.
1841 ... 361,446
1851 ... 320,812
1861 ... 299,300
1871 ... 277,287
1881 ... 272,107
For most of the 19th century fares were �3 to �5
for a passage to North America and �15 to �20 for one to Australia.
At the same time the average weekly wage for a labourer was only �1.
A Parishioner of Garvaghy who had emigrated to
the USA made at least two visits home, one of which was in the late
1860s. In a journal he recorded some of his impressions of the area.
One change he remarked on was that standing at
the Parish Church at night there were fewer lighted windows to be
seen throughout the countryside. The change in population was having
a very local effect. The table below illustrates the change in the
population of the Parish between 1834 and 1911.
Church of Ireland