A Historical Handbook
by Rev. Canon C.R.J. Rudd Rector of Moira
Photographs & Illustrations
A Historical Handbook INTRODUCTION
The purpose of this book is to introduce the public to the town of
Moira and to relate something of it's historic origins. The history of the
Parish Church and the town has been traced over the past four hundred
years. Not only is it intended to be a short history of the town and
Parish but a handbook giving significant information.
In all probability the origin of the name Moira (the Plain of the Ring Forts) has been anglicised from the original Irish Magh Rath. From which of the many raths or forts in the district it derives it's title is a manner of uncertainty. Perhaps the best preserved example to be seen is the "Rough Fort" on the Old Kilmore Road in the townland of Risk. Near where Waringfield House once stood is "Pretty Mary's Fort".
The Green in front of the houses at Claremont is all that is left of another of these ring forts.
The earliest known record is of a battle that was fought at Moira in 637 A.D. between Domhnall (pronounced Donall), High King of Ireland and Congal, King of Ulster. This conflict is described as one of the most sanguinary in early Irish History.
Congal had previously killed Domhnall's predecessor and had fled to Britain and returned after nine years with an army of Britons, Scots and Saxons, including a Scottish King and a number of Princes. Domhnal l advanced from Tara, with an army of Irish chieftains and princes. The two armies came together at Moira and Congal's army was annihilated. Congal himself was slain as also were a number of the Scottish Princes.
This battle is the subject of an epic poem written by Sir Samuel Ferguson in 1872. It is also recorded in the writings of the famous historian Adaman - an eighth century historian who wrote about the life of St.Columba. Records show that the routed armies fled over the Ford Ath-ornagh (Thornford or Thornbrook), up the ascent of Trummery, and in the direction of the Killultagh Woods, near Ballinderry.
When excavations took place in the construction of the line of the Ulster Railway (which passes close below the Old Church of Trummery) great quantities of bones were discovered believed to have been those of men and horses killed in the battle.
Some of the names of the townlands in the area originate from the Battle - particularly Aughnafosker, which means the 'field of slaughter' and Carnalbanagh - the'Scotsman's grave'. In this townland, according to tradition there used to be a pillar stone with a crude cross and some circles on it signifying the graves of the Scottish Princes. Accompanying Domhall's army was a Bishop called Saint Ronan Finn, who is reputed to have established a monastery and/or a nunnery in the area. His memory is still preserved in the townland of Kilminiogue - the 'Church of my dear young Finn'. There are still the remains of an ancient graveyard in the townland and it has been said that the outline of the church can be seen from the air. Some of the local people claim that Kilminiogue means 'the Church of the young Maidens'. This seems possible - as the Irish translation (Cill na mna og) would support the theory that the monastic establishment may have been included a nunnery. When the present Church of Moira was built in 1723, it was originally to have been called St.Inn's (an aspirated form of Finn) though when it was consecrated it was anglicised to St john's.
Ronan Finn was also associated with Magheralin where there was a seventh century monastery or a nunnery. There is still a lane known as the 'Nun's Walk'. The name Magheralin is derived from Maghera Clon - which means the 'Plain of the Church'. It's ancient name was Lann Ronan Finn, the Church of Ronan Finn. Bishop Reeves, a nineteenth century historian identified Magheralin with an ancient monastery called Linduachail founded in the seventh century. The historian Rev. J.B. Leslie, however, disputes this fact and locates Linduachail in the Parish of Kilsaran, Co. Louth, in the region around Dundalk.
The Castle and The Rawdon Family
For the next thousand years after the Battle of Moira, little or nothing is to be found in the records. In medieval times the district belonged to the O'Lavery Clan, a derivation of this name is still very prominent in the area. When the Rebellion of 1641 took place, the lands belonging to many of the insurging families were confiscated, because of their involvement in the uprising. Among these families were the O'Laverys, who inhabited the South West region of Co. Antrim. After the Rebellion, Ulster was planted with families from many parts of England and thus began the Plantation of Ulster.
In 1631 Major George Rawdon, whose family owned Rawdon Hall near Leeds in West Yorkshire, came to live in the area. He was appointed to manage the Estate of Viscount Conway, Lord Lieutenant of Co. Antrim, at Killultagh near Ballinderry.
His ancestors had fought at the Battle of Hastings. His first wife was Ursula Hill, widow of Francis Hill of Hillhall. She died in 1641. It was George Rawdon who built the Garrison at Aghalee, commonly known as Soldierstown. In the Rebellion the armies of Sir Phelim O'Neill had massacred 40,000 Protestants. George Rawdon, with an army of 200 Englishmen completely repulsed O'Neill's army at the Battle of Lisburn.
In 1651, ten years after the Rebellion, Major de Burgh, who was quartered at Charlmont Fort, near Moy in Co. Tyrone, built a brick house at Moira in Co. Down. Major Rawdon, who had been a military commander in the defence of Lisnagarvey- (the old name for Lisburn) replaced de Burgh as owner of the mansion and estate at Moira. Previously he had lived at Brook Hill near Ballinderry. Shortly after acquiring Moira Castle he married the daughter of the second ViscountConway. He was to give fifty years of faithful service to the Conway family, serving successively three Viscounts. The third Viscount was created Earl of Conway and died in 1683.
When George Rawdon acquired Moira and other
estates in Ireland he established a dynasty similar to that of the Hill
family of Hillsborough who became the Marquises of Downshire. Later his
own descendants were to marry into the Hill family who were among the
richest landowners in the country, and were reputed to own land in almost
every county in Ireland. He was created a Baronet in 1665. He had done
much to foster the early growth and development of Lisburn after the
Rebellion. It was his family who were largely responsible for the Moira we
know today. He was known as the "Great Highwayman", as he was responsible
for constructing many of the highways in the country. He was a very close
friend of the famous Bishop Jeremy Taylor who was Bishop of Down, Connor
and Dromore who for a short time lived in Magheralin, a few miles from
Moira. Sir George Rawdon's wife Dorothy died in 1665 and was buried in the
chancel of Lisburn Cathedral. Sir George Rawdon himself died in the year
1683 and was also buried in Lisburn Cathedral. He was succeeded by Sir
Arthur Rawdon, who like his father, was a member of Parliament, and was
one of the Generals in King William of Orange's Armies. When King William
landed in Ireland Rawdon raised troops and rallied to his side. Before
long he was besieged in Derry, where he became ill, but, encouraged by his
friends, he managed to escape, and so ended his part in military affairs.
When Sir Arthur inherited the lands at Moira he rebuilt the Mansion which
became one of the most magnificent Castles in the country. Records
describe this mansion as a "commodious habitation, surrounded by a wood,
which affords beautiful walks, a large lawn extends in front, where sheep
feed, and is terminated by trees, and a small lough eastwards, the rear of
the castle grounds contains a wood, with large opening fronting the
castle, which forms a fine perspective"
In Ireland, at the end of the seventeenth century, there was no money to be got for 'anything in the world'. Tenants were too poor to pay their rents, and tradesmen were on the verge of ruin, yet it was just at this time that a young Irish landlord, called Sir Arthur Rawdon, began to garden on a scale hitherto unknown. Sir Arthur Rawdon was called the 'Father of Irish Gardening' and was also known as 'The Cock of the North'. He was a contemporary of Sir Hans Sloane, (who also came from Co. Down) and was a great botanist. Sloane had a great influence on Sir Arthur's horticultural tastes. In 1687 Sloane went to the West Indies and kept up a correspondence with Sir Arthur keeping him informed of the various seeds and plant life there. He studied the natural history of the islands and later brought home to England at least 800 different species and plants. In 1690, Rawdon went to England and, after seeing Sloane's plants, he wrote asking him for seeds. A month later he received 400 different species with instructions on how to grow them. At this time Rawdon engaged James Harlow to go to Jamaica to bring back plants for Moira.
In his estate at Moira, Sir Arthur built the first hot-house in Europe. According to Bassett's History of Co. Down, frogs were first discovered in Ireland at Moira, probably in the magnificent botanical gardens. These gardens were adorned with a pretty Labrynth, ponds, canals and woods. The trees included the Locust of Virginia, a tree 30ft high, and of a trunk at least a foot and a half in diameter, bearing a pod longer than any pea, and full of honey, supposed to be the food that Saint John the Baptist lived on in the wilderness. The Ucca or Adam's needle, which has a leaf like a flag, and a point as sharp as a needle. Another was the Indian Honeysuckle, spired like a rocket, with a crimson coloured flower. In Lisburn Lord Hertford had beautiful hanging gardens which were the inspiration of Sir Arthur Rawdon, and they cascaded from the present Castle Gardens to the large basin. All that remains today are the terraces, which are kept by the Borough Council. Just over twenty years ago they were a wilderness and some shrubs remained, which may have been part of the original planting. Sadly enough Sir Arthur lived only a short time to enjoy that garden he created and loved, for he died in 1695 at the early age of thirty-four. It is worth noting that for two generations Rawdon's descendants maintained the garden though the' stove' (hot-house) was pulled down, but when in 1788, Moira passed into other hands, the garden was neglected and subsequently vandalised. By the middle of the next century there were scarcely any trees of note. Now nothing remains of either house or garden, save for a few banks.
Sir Arthur's successor, Sir John, the Third Baronet, was born in 1690 and died in 1723. Throughout his short life he had much ill health, owing to tuberculosis. At the time of his death St. John's Church in Moira had just been consecrated. He was buried in the family vault underneath the Church. Sir Hans Sloane encouraged Sir John to correspond and in 1711, in response to a letter from Sloane enquiring about the plants at Moira, John Rawdon replied that owing to the 'carelessness of servants and the death of Mr. Harlow most of the plants were withered to nothing'. Outside, however, the trees and shrubs fared better. His son, also Sir John, inherited the estates and the Baronetcy at the age of three.
This second Sir John, was later elevated to the peerage as Baron Rawdon and became Earl of Moira in 1762. This first Earl was a well known figure in Irish Government circles. Politically he is said to have been for the uniting of Ireland under it's own rule. When he died in 1793 his funeral was said to have been the largest ever seen in Ireland. Over four hundred horse-drawn carriages were in the procession from all parts of the country. He too was buried in the family vault in St. John's, Moira.
This first Earl was married three times. His first wife, a daughter of the Earl of Egmont, died five years after their marriage - they had two daughters. She is believed to have been buried in Scotland. In 1746 he married Anne Hill, sister of the Marquis of Downshire. She died in 1751 without having a family, and was buried in the family vault. She is said to be the Lady Moira who was reputed to haunt Moira Demesne.
The third Lady Moira, was Lady Elizabeth Hastings,
daughter of the ninth Earl of Huntingdon. Her mother was a famous disciple
of John Wesley, and was the foundress of the Methodist sect known as the
Countess of Huntingdon's Connection, as will be seen in a later chapter.
There were eleven children of this marriage, five of whom died very young.
Lady Elizabeth's family owned extensive estates throughout England which
she now inherited, including the well known Castle Donnington in
Leicestershire. During the Industrial Revolution a small village was built
in Leicestershire, called Moira, near Ashby de La Zouch, which is today a
busy industrial village in the East Midlands. This Lady Moira died in 1808
and was buried at Newtownforbes in County Longford where one of her
daughters was married to the Earl of Granard whose seat was at
Newtownforbes. There is a house in County Longford near Newtownforbes,
marked in the Ordinance Survey maps as Carrickmoyra House, and there was
also a parish of Moira, in the Diocese of Ardagh.
One of the bravest corporals was Dennis O'Lavery, who was also a native of Moira. He is said to have saved Lord Moira from being killed by cannon fire, and in the annals of the War is regarded as one of it's greatest heroes. Incidentally, and ironically, it was the Rawdon family who had confiscated his family's lands after the Rebellion of 1641. Lord Moira is said to have built a memorial to O'Lavery in recognition of the fact that he saved his life, but it's exact location is uncertain.
On his return home, the Earl became a member of Parliament and was advocate of the Act of Union. He later became the first Governor General of India and was largely responsible for the establishing of India as part of the British Empire.
He became Marquis of Hastings in 1817 and was also a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was later appointed the first Commander-in-Chief of Malta where he died in 1826 and was buried in Valetta. The last direct descendant, Henry Rawdon, a great nephew, fourth Marquis of Hastings died without issue, and thus the Marquisate became extinct.
By 1805 the Rawdon family had moved to their other Irish estates in Ireland, including Montalto at Ballynahinch. The new tenant of Moira Castle was William Sharman, a member of Grattan's Parliament, who was very prominent in the history of the area. He commanded the Moira Volunteers which were a contingent of the Irish Volunteers. This seems to have been a protection force in the late eighteenth century. His son, another William Sharman married a daughter of the Craford family of Crawfordsburn, and changed his name by deed poll to Sharman-Crawford. This family owned Moira Castle only for a relatively short period.
At this stage the Castle and Demesne was purchased by the family of Sir Robert Bateson. He also owned Belvoir Park in Belfast. The Bateson family did not live for any permanent period in Moira but used the Castle as a second residence. His son, Thomas, became the first Baron of Deramore. There is a plaque in Moira Parish Church to Sir Robert Bateson and also a family vault is under the obelisk in the Churchyard. Incidentally there is also a plaque to the first Lady Deramore in Moira Parish Church, and an identical plaque is also found in Knockbreda Parish Church in Belfast with which the family were also connected. The Castle was demolished early in the nineteenth century but there are still a few remains of walls in the Demesne - probably of the walled garden. In the past twenty years the Demesne has been developed by the Lisburn Borough Council as a public park and once again it is a great array of beautiful flowers.
The Building of St. John's Church
When the Church was
built it had a slate steeple which was blown down in a freak storm in 1884
and was replaced by the present copper spire. The interior contained a
three-decker pulpit, consisting of a pulpit, with a Prayer Desk under
neath and a Clerk's desk on the lower level. This was replaced at a later
date. The j Reredos containing the Ten Commandments, Apostle's Creed and
the Lord's Prayer
There is reputed to have been a tunnel from Moira Castle leading to the Church which was used by the Rawdon family and their servants as their means of entry to the Church. When sewers and electric cables were laid the tunnel fell into disuse and ceased to exist. The gallery was not built until the year 1871.
There is an unconfirmed report that the first Harvest Thanksgiving services in Ireland were held in Moira Church in 1726 shortly after it was consecrated. It will be noted that the first harvest service in England was held in Morwenstow Church in Devon about one hundred and twenty years later. As early as 1742 repairs were carried out to the Church which included repairing the windows and making the Church watertight.
According to Lewis' Topographical History the Rectory was built in 1799 for the sum of £710. There is a record however of a glebe house from the time the Church was built. The present rectory does seem to have been built in various stages. Above the ceiling of the present kitchen there is a stone dated 1811 with the name James Hagan (probably the builder or rebuilder of the wall). There are cellars divided into nine rooms, including a large kitchen and adjoining rooms for servants. In the late 1930"s the kitchen was resited from the basement to the ground floor. There is a moat round the basement, spanned at the back by a ramp to the yard and steps to the basement and back door.
The graveyard like the Church is in the townland of Clare at the east side of the town. The old registers are lost but the surviving baptismal and burial registers date from 1825. many of the headstones, especially at the back of the graveyard are difficult to decipher, the inscriptions obliterated by weathering. The area around the church is more ancient than that of the front. Beside the church is a large obelisk and vault in memory of Sir Robert Bateson and his wife. They were the parents of the first Lord Deramore who became the owners of Moira Castle and Estate. There is also a vault belonging to the Rawdon family underneath the Church. There are visible signs on the East wall of the church of what must have been the entrance to the vault.
There are a number of graves where former Rectors and their families are buried:- Rev. John Gifford (1728-33); Rev. Thomas Waring (1743-77); Rev. Andrew Greenfield (1783-88); Rev. John Ffolliott (1883-84); Rev. Canon William Henry Wynne (1836-73); Rev. Canon William E. Hurst (1907-39); and Very Rev. Henry Hughes (1939-71). There is also a grave to a former Presbyterian Minister - Rev. William Moffett and also one to the Rev. Canon Thomas B. Harpur, father of a former Rector who lived in retirement in Moira. This grave also contains the remains of Dr. Frank Harpur, a missionary doctor of the Church Missionary Society who served in the Middle East, and was buried in 1947. He founded the Harpur Memorial Hospital in Menouf, Egypt. Hearsay has it that there is a grave where an infant child of the Rev. W.B. Yeats was buried - Rev. Yeats, a former curate, was grandfather of the renowned Irish poet of the same name. To the front of the church is a Celtic Cross in memory of Rev. John Douie, son of the land steward of the Deramore Estate, Mr. J.L. Douie. he was ordained in 1907 in England and died eleven days later.
The Visit of John Wesley
It was the family of Miss Lutton who introduced Methodism to Moira and founded the first Methodist Church in the town around the year 1820. The first church was in the vicinity of what is now Moira Mews. The present church is just over one hundred years old. According to Miss Lutton's book Ralph Lutton entertained a Methodist preacher when he arrived in Moira as he could not obtain a meal at the local inn. This is a description from Anne Lutton's autobiography relating what happened the day Methodism began in Moira.
Miss Lutton s father Ralph was the son of a former Churchwarden of St. John's Church, who married a cousin, Anne Lutton and had a large family. At the time of marriage they were both eighteen years of age and there was much opposition in the family to the marriage. The family were owners of several estated and private houses with by purchase or by inheritance in or around Moira. Ralph Lutton lived in the Main Street, near the present Four Trees Public House and later on moved to Donaghcloney. He returned to Moira to another house on the Main Street, opposite the previous one - (for many years the home of the Uprichard family). He was a classical scholar and a distinguished linguist, and had tutored some Curates of Moira Church. He had also a good voice, fine musical taste, and played well on the violin, but he was partially blind from cataract. Incidentally his daughter Anne was also a distinguished linguist being conversant in over 50 languages. His wife was a fine, handsome woman, of gracious presence, and very popular amongst her neighbours and friends. She too possessed strong literary tastes, but her large family and partially blind husband left little leisure for their development. Mrs. Lutton is reputed to have had a cure for whooping cough due to her close relationship (i.e. cousin) to her husband. Their daughter Anne was also said to possess these powers. Anne was the youngest surviving child of a family of thirteen. She was baptised in 1791 and also confirmed in St. John's. According to her book the ministry of the clergyman was limited to Sabbath morning prayers and sermon, and the services were attended by all the family. The children were equally well familiarised with the Wesleyan preaching on Sunday evenings. She claims that by the combination of the two systems she was preserved from extremes - the arrogant exclusiveness of High Church prejudices and the contracted bigotry of hostile sectarianism.
Both her parents were steady adherents of the established Church of England, but had also joined the Methodist Society. It will be noted that the Methodist Church originally began as a society within the Church of England and that both John and Charles Wesley were originally ordained Church of England clergymen, and remained as such, and never intended that the Methodists should become a separate Church. It was after their deaths because of persecution that the Society became a separate Church. At an early age Anne Lutton was preaching in Methodist meetings and on one occasion was denounced by one of the Moira Curates. She was once asked if she loved the Church - she said, "I even love the walls and whenever I see a spire, my heart warms to it." She was very friendly with the Langtry family who first lived at Kilmore House and later at Fortwilliam. (This family were related to the husband of the actress Lily Langtry who became mistress of King Edward VII). It was on the advice of Miss Langtry she offered herself for confirmation by the bishop of Dromore, Dr. Saurin. She exhorted peaceful measures when the Rector in 1821-Rev. Lewis Saurin, a brother of the Bishop, divided the Irish Methodists from receiving the Sacrament from Methodist preachers .... she would have preferred that the custom which prevailed in Mr. Wesley's day of receiving it at a church only. In 1882 she penned a tract containing reasons for preferring the established church to all others.
One of the curates of Moira, Rev. John Oldfield regularly instructed Anne Lutton in Hebrew and Greek. Mr. Oldfield later married a Miss Greer of Oakleigh, Lurgan, a good friend of Miss Lutton. He became Archdeacon of Elphin. Her book for a large part consists of letters to Miss Langtry and to Miss Greer.
Her family burial ground was at Old Aghalee. Not long before her death she revisited the family grave where the sexton showed her the little chapel attached to the burial ground "which a man called Oliver Cromwell had blown up with a cannon about six hundred years ago". (The Cromwellian rebellion had only been about a hundred and fifty years earlier). When they visited Magheralin, "an old crone gave us weird stories of apparitions of the Countess of Moira". Many more towns and villages were visited including Lurgan, Banbridge, Scarva and Lord Roden's park at Tollymore, Bryansford. All these were places where she had conducted meetings fifty-four years earlier.
The Town and Buildings
Although the town existed before the seventeenth century the Rawdon family were largely responsible for building the houses and for the towns development. In 1744 Moira was described as "a well laid out and thriving village, consisting of one broad street, inhabited by many traders, many of whom carry on the linen trade to good advantage". In 1740 a monthly brown linen market was established. Although linen was the main industry, there was also a brewery and bottling business near "Palmer's Corner". Lambeg drums were also reputed to have been first made in the town. Moira was also an important centre for limestone quarrying. Evidence of this is seen in the lime kilns on the Clarehill Road. Another similar business existed until recently on the Old Kilmore Road.
The Market House was built by the Bateson family, who although they resided at Belvoir Park continued to care for the town. This building bears the Bateson family crest. The Market House contained a large assembly room and a court room, which was still in use by the Courts until the early part of this century.
Perhaps the earliest existing building is Berwick Hall, a thatched house on the Hillsborough Road which dates back to circa 1700. It was owned by the Berwick family and is one of the finest examples of a yeoman's home.
Other buildings of note in the Main Street include the residence (near the Demesne entrance) which was the home of the land steward Mr. John L. Douie. There is also a building opposite the Market House bearing the date 1735.
The Main Street of Moira was lined down both sides with lime trees. According to old photographs these lime trees existed until the early part of this century. There were also four lime trees in the middle of the Main Street which were a landmark and well known all over Northern Ireland. These became unsafe about thirty years ago and sadly for that reason were cut down. Chestnut trees lined part of the driveway to the Church and unfortunately these too had to be taken down. Lady Brookeborough kindly donated conifer trees and these are to be seen near to the back entrance to the Church.
Until recently Waringfield House, the home of the Waring family, was situated on the Lurgan Road. This Georgian building was destroyed by fire and finally demolished in the late 1980's. At the turn of the century Canon Thomas Harpur lived in this house - his son being Rector of Moira Parish. In this century in the grounds of house was the military hospital, which later became a geriatric hospital, which closed in the last decade. On the site now stands a private nursing home and retirement dwellings. (see poem at the end of this chapter).
There were several other large houses in the area, many of which date to the early part of the eighteenth century. Ballunigan House, off the M1 Motorway was once a Cholera Hospital.
Centrally positioned in the corridor of communications through the Lagan Valley, Moira always enjoyed good transport facilities. Only about six miles separate the river Lagan at Moira from Lough Neagh and as early as 1637 Sir George Rawdon suggested digging a canal. It was not until 1794 however, that the Lough Neagh section of the Lagan Navigation was finally opened. There was an acqueduct near Spencer's Bridge. The M1 was built where the acqueduct originally was. The Ulster Railway soon followed the building of the Canal, with Moira being connected to Belfast in the year 1841. The Railway Station was the earliest country station on the Dublin Line. Records divulge that Lord Deramore was reluctant to allow the Railway to be built on his land, thus the siting of the Station is approximately one mile from the town.
At Trummery Crossroads, the Spencer family owned Trummery House, and the Logan family lived at Church Hill. They were descendants of James Logan, who founded the Loganian Library and Museum in Philadelphia. James Logan was very much involved in the developmentof Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania and had a good rapport with the Red Indians. There is a plaque to the memory of this gentleman outside the Quaker Meeting House in Lurgan. Up to approximately eighteen years ago there was hedge in the shape of a man on a horse at Ferndale, Trummery.
Magherahinch House was originally owned by the Marquis of Downshire, as a country residence. It later became the property of John Bateman and is now the home of the Geddis family. Outside Moira is another house - "The Forest" which is still inhabited by another branch of the Bateman family.
Fortwilliam House on the Old Kilmore Road was the home of the Langtry family. This family was related to the husband of Lily Langtry said to have been the lady friend of King Edward VII.
Extract from the poem
read about Killarney's Lakes
We bid adieu to Waringfield
Church Buildings Presbyterian Church
A congregation of the Presbyterian Church was founded before the end of the 17th century. About 1730 they were deprived of their place of worship, the location of which is obscure and built a meeting house in 1738. In 1748 they joined the Seceders and some of this faction worshipped in an out-building at Fortwilliam, Lurganville - believed to be the first Seceding congregation in Co. Down. Later the congregation divided into Non-Subscribing and Secessionist congregations and the latter built the present Church in 1829. The son of a former Presbyterian Minister the Rev. James Hume built a famous Highway in Australia called The Hume Highway. Another former Minister the Rev. William Moffett is buried in St. John's graveyard.
This Church is just over one hundred years old. The congregation was originally founded by Anne Lutton and there was a previous Church situated near where is now Moira Mews. Fuller details will be found in a previous chapter.
Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church
The present Non-Subscribing Church was probably built in 1860 on the site of the original Presbyterian Church. For this reason it is known as the First Presbyterian Church.
Roman Catholic Church
There is no Roman Catholic Church in Moira but the Church of the Parish is beside the village of Kilwarlin in the townland of Lurganville. The ground for this Church was granted by the Marquis of Downshire who also gave much of the money for the actual building of the Church which dates back to the early part of the last century.
Quaker Meeting House
There is a Quaker
Meeting House at Brookfield almost two miles from Moira. One of the oldest
Quaker Boarding Schools in the country was built beside it. The ruins of
which are still to be seen today.
Nineteenth Century Records
At the end of the eighteenth century Ireland was plunged in rebellion. The Northern Presbyterian farmers and the Southern Roman Catholic Peasantry were on the same side. The counties of Antrim and Down were very much involved and the principle Ulster battle was the Battle of Ballynahinch. This was fought on the land of the Earl of Moira who by this time had moved to Montalto, Ballynahinch. There followed the Act of Union and the Nationalism of Daniel O'Connell, the Fenian Movement and the Catholic Emancipation Movement. The town of Moira, however, was by all accounts was very little involved, if at all.
The clergyman in charge of Moira from 1818-1821 was Rev. John Dubourdieu. He was appointed on the death of Rev. John Bradshaw but was never instituted Rector. In 1821 he became Rector of Drumgooland (Ballyward). Dr. Dubourdieu was the author of two books - "A Statistical Survey of Co. Down" (1802) and a "Statistical Survey of Co. Antrim" (1812). When John O'Donovan was researching Irish place names for his Irish Ordinance Survey he encountered Dubourdieu and reported unflatteringly that he was a "very old, grey-headed peevish man and a hauty aristocratic self-sufficient little bit of an Irish Frenchman". There is nothing in his writings or his relations with his family to indicate that these characteristics were typical of him. By coincidence, ninety years after his Incumbency of Moira, the Rector was Rev. Canon William Hurst whose wife was a grand-daughter of Dr. Dubourdieu (a Miss Best from Aghalee).
In 1847 a terrible famine took place in Ireland, during which, through death and emigration, the country lost a great number of people. The Poor House at Lurgan was full and 70 people died therein one day. It is surprising that at Moira, only a short distance away, we find no details of famine distress until the following year.
In 1848 the vestry resolved that "each person applying for a coffin shall in future furnish a signed certificate of their religious persuasion and also their inability to pay for the burial of the deceased, signed by three persons of good character, being parishioners". That year Moira parish paid £11.10s ld for coffins.
In 1859 the great Revival began as result of a series of Prayer Meetings in Kells, Co. Antrim which resulted in a spiritual movement reverberating around the country in which many churches literally came alive. Some great preachers made an astonishing impact with their message. A number of churches were extended and galleries added in the ensuing years. Although the gallery in Moira was added around 1871 it is very doubtful whether it had anything to do with the 1859 Revival. It is more likely that the large population of household servants in connection with the various landed gentry and aristocratic families like the Rawdons, Warings and Berwicks and various other well-known families was responsible for the erection of the gallery.
In 1836 Rev. William Wynne became Rector and remained in Moira for thirty-seven years until his death in 1873. During his ministry there were a number of noteworthy curates; Rev. William Butler Yeats - grandfather of the famous poet of the same name. He went on to succeed Rev. W m. Wynne as Rector of Tullylish. Rev. Wynne was married to the daughter of the Bishop of Dromore, Dr. James Saurin. They had ten children, two of whom do not seem to have survived infancy. One of his daughters married one of the curates - Rev. Robert Hannay, who later became Vicar of Belfast, which included the present St. Anne's Cathedral Parish. He was the last Vicar of St. Anne's before it was raised to a Cathedral status with a Dean in charge. Their son, Rev. John Oliver Hannay, who became Rector of Ballintoy was the author of many historical novels centred round the discovery of the Armada ship the Girona which was discovered off the Antrim coast near Ballintoy around the turn of the century. He wrote under the pen name George Birmingham and his books include- The Search Party, Northern Iron and Spanish Gold, to name but a few. He was also the author of many theological works. Rev. William Wynne was elevated to Canon and was later appointed sub-Dean of Dromore Diocese. Just before his death he was appointed Dean but unfortunately died before his installation.
Another noteable curate was Rev. James Gaussen who had two curacies in Moira and had several Chaplancies in Europe, including one at Guernsey, where there is a lectern Bible dedicated to his memory.
Rev. James Robert Ffolliott, who succeeded Canon Wynne died less than a year after his appointment and his burial place is marked by a smaller obelisk in front of the Bateson Memorial.
The next Rector was the Rev. John Knox Barklie who retired through ill-health in 1898 and went to live in New Zealand at the home of his son. His successor was Rev. Thomas William Harpur, whose father Rev. Canon Thomas B. Harpur came to live at Waringfield House after his retirement as Rector of Ardmore in 1897. He wrote a book entitled "The Silent Comforter". Another son as aforementioned was the founder of the Harpur Memorial Hospital in Menouf Egypt where he had worked as a missionary doctor. The Rev. Thomas William Harpur served in two parishes in the South of Ireland after he left Moira.
In the middle of the nineteenth century there seems to have been a number of complaints about the poor state of Moira Church. It was considered to be dilapidated. In 1837 the Church was said to be in "want of repair". There was a disused fireplace in the vestry and one in the Rawdon pew. The Church was in need of pointing and plastering. A request was made to the Commissioner of the ecclesiastics Board for £500, this was agreed to, but later reduced to £200.
The spire of the Church blew down in a freak gale in 1884. A new copper spire was erected at a cost of £370. It is one of the landmarks of the countryside.
The Church in this century has seen many changes. The oil lighting system had been installed and was in use until the year 1933 when it was replaced by electricity both in the Church and Rectory at a cost of £30. In the year 1933 oil fired heating replaced the stove in the middle of the Church. To mark the 250th Anniversary of the Church the present lighting was installed and is very much in keeping with the Georgian architecture of the Church. The floodlighting system was offered by Mrs. H. Jordan in memory of her husband Hercules Jordan.
At the beginning of the century the organ was installed by Mr. J.L. Douie in memory of his wife Mary Lothian Douie. At this time the choir seating was rearranged and the pulpit moved back and lowered one foot. A brass lectern was also presented by the Douie family in memory of the Rev. James Douie. The organ was re-built in 1978 at a cost of £8,000.
The Present Day
The letter H appears quite
often in the list of Rectors. The first clergyman had been the Rev. Hugh
Hill, one of his successors was Rev. George Howse. At the turn of the
century the Rev. Thomas Harpur was Rector. He was succeeded by the Rev.
Before the Church had been built, the parishioners had worshipped in the local Charity School. The Earl of Moira re-built the school (probably on the same site). At the beginning of this century, the land steward of the Deramore Estate, Mr. J.L. Douie, built a new school, replacing the one built by the Earl of Moira. In recent years the present primary school was built. Approximately eighteen years ago the old school was transferred into the hands of the Church and is now used as an extra Church building.
Rev. William Hurst was Rector of the Parish during the years of the first World War. Ireland again was plunged into rebellion. The great rising of 1916 broke out and in 1921 after the War there was another rising. Partition followed, and the country was divided. The Northern Six Counties remained with Great Britain and the remaining twenty-six counties became the Irish Free State. It was declared a Republic twenty-five years later.
The Church in this century has seen many changes. The oil lighting system had been installed and was in use until the year 1933 when it was replaced by electricity both in the Church and Rectory at a cost of £30. To mark the two hundred and fifty anniversary of the Church the present lighting was installed and is very much in keeping with the Georgian architecture. The flood lighting was presented by Mrs. Hercules Jordan in memory of her husband. The Communion Table was also presented by the Jordan family around the same time.
At the beginning of the century the organ was installed by Mr. J.L. Douie in memory of his wife Mary Lothian Douie. At this time the choir seating was arranged and the pulpit moved back to it's present position and lowered by one foot. A brass lectern was also presented by the Douie family in memory of the Rev. James Douie. The organ was re-built in 1978 at a cost of approximately £8,000.
After the First World War, the town War Memorial was erected in front of the Church at a cost of £215 and was unveiled by Mrs. Waring of Waringstown in 1921. Wreaths are laid every year on Remembrance Sunday to commemorate those who fought and died for their Country. After the Second World War the names of those who gave their lives were added to this Memorial. A Roll of Honour to those who served and fought in the two World Wars is found in the porch of the Church. This was presented by Mr. Robert Logan of Bangor.
Following a ministry of thirty-two years Canon Hurst retired from the Parish as a result of ill health. Throughout his period in Moira he had farmed extensively. He and his wife went to live in Newcastle. His elder son Walter entered the ministry and spent most of his ordained life in New Zealand. He was first Dean of Dunedin and at the time of his death a few years ago was Dean of Wellington. The younger son, Noel, was a successful farmer and market gardener in New Zealand and now enjoys retirement. Their daughter Elma is married to a well known solicitor in Downpatrick.
The new Rector was the Rev. Henry Hughes who had been a Deputation Secretary for the Church of Ireland Jews Society and also Rector of a Parish in Co. Wicklow. He was Rector of Moira for thirty-one years and ministered throughout the period of the Second World War. He was a man of great scholarship and learning. His wife, formerly Dr. Mary Dobson from Waringstown_ assisted many local doctors during her stay in Moira. Rev. Hughes, who later became a Canon of Dromore Diocese and ended his ministry as Dean of Dromore was also a Scout Commissioner and Mrs. Hughes was a Girl Guide Commissioner. In 1947 the Women's Guild was founded.
Around the same period the pew at the back of the Church was converted into baptistry. Three years later the East window was presented by Mrs. Logan of Trummery in memory of her husband, depicting St. John. On one occasion when the Church was being redecorated it was discovered there just to be a Coat of Arms painted on the pulpit. It had become completely indecipherable. The parish was given permission to replace it with the Diocesan Crests.
During the last War the Ulster Military Hospital was at Waringfield in Moira. The buildings consisted of nissen huts in the grounds of the large mansion. Many wounded soldiers from all parts of the world were treated at this hospital. Regularly soldiers who were encamped in the Castle Demesne. When the Ulster Military Hospital was transferred to Musgrave Park Hospital about thirty years ago the Royal Army Medical Corps presented their flag to Moira Parish. It is now displayed on the front of the gallery beside the insignia of the Queens Forces. The flag on the other side of the gallery is that of Cuba, before Fidel Castro's revolution. It was presented to Dean Hughes at a Scout Jamboree. This flag is probably unique to any other Church in the world.
In 1960 the Parochial Hall began to be built. As early as 1953, in order to meet the needs of the various parochial organisations it was felt a Parochial Hall was a neccessity. At this stage the organisations were housed in the Town Hall and the Orange Hall and also in the Rectory cellars. It was considered the Town Hall be bought as a Parochial Hall, but it was soon discovered that too many structural alterations would have to be made and it would have been too costly. In 1954 a local builder, William Martin, presented to the Parish a piece of ground in the Main Street for the building of this Hall. In 1960 the foundation stones were laid and by the following year the Parochial Hall was opened. The Architect was Mr. Denis O'D Hanna. The cost was £8,000 and was raised by parisoners in a comparatively short space of time. At this stage also the Church and Rectory were renovated.
The present Primary School was built in the early 1970's and in 1975 the Old School was handed back to the Church as an auxiliary hall. The Charter had indicated that when it ceased to be in use as a school it was to become the property of the Church. It was opened as a Youth Hall in 1975.
In 1960 the M1 Motorway was constructed and by the year 1966 a roundabout junction at Moira on the M1 facilitated commuting to Lisburn and Belfast. It is due to the building of this motorway and the subsequent movement from towns like Lisburn that the present town has developed. Moira is now achieving the reputation of being fastest growing small town in the Province. In recent years Lisburn Borough Council has taken great pride in providing flower beds and hanging baskets. Their efforts have not been in vain as Moira has won many competitions i.e. Ulster in Bloom; Best kept small Town in the Province. It has featured in Britain in Bloom and even reached the European finals of the Entente Florale. In the past fifteen years many new housing developments have grown up in new estates. The town has developed both numerically and commercially. Many successful businesses have arrived in the area and have brought much prosperity. Great improvements have taken place in the appearance of the town. Most of the stone buildings have been repointed and the beauty of the Georgian buildings have been enhanced.
When the Church was redecorated in 1991 many improvements were made to the interior of the Church - the electrical lighting was augmented and much of the woodwork was brought back to it's original colour. The Church was completely re-roofed with particular care being taken to ensure that the replacement slates were in keeping with the age of the building. It was at least over one hundred years since previous extensive repairs were carried out. Most of the timbers were found to be absolutely sound. Together with Government grants and the sacrificial giving of parishioners much of the expense has been cleared. Various gifts were donated to the Church at the Re-dedication service - Baptismal font; Middle Aisle and Chancel Carpet; West Entrance Door; Music Bookcase and Music Shelf; Gallery Pew; Electric Light Chandeliers and silver collection plates. The Church is now in extremely good condition and has a commanding appearance and is a landmark for many miles. The Select Vestry are to commended for all the marvellous work they have done with particular mention to those who supervised the repairs and directed the work.
Rectors and Clergy-in-Charge
Repairs and re-decorations were also carried out
to the Parochial Hall to meet Fire Authority Regulations. New stage and
window curtains were also purchased together with regulation fire doors.