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A Place of Worship
Banbridge Road Presbyterian church




The Rev. Herbert Mulholland

The Rev. MulhollandThe Rev. Mulholland was born in Balnamore on the 18th of June 190 His father and mother moved Ballymena where he grew up. He was brought up in connection with We Church, Ballymena. As a young man he came under the influence of the Re W. P. Nicholson, an evangelist of those days. As the result of a spiritual experience he decided at one of his services to study to be a minister Ultimately he was licensed by the Ballymena Presbytery on 27th May 1932.

The Rev. Hebert Mulholland was called to Banbridge Road at a Congregational meeting held on 1st September, 1932. In spite of the background of the previous years when the congregation was very deeply divided he received a unanimous Call and was ordained on the 29th September.

The service of Ordination Banbridge Road was conducted by the Moderator of Presbytery, the Rev. H McKinty. The Rev. H. C. Clements Ballysillan where Mr Mulholland had been assistant, also took part, as did the Rev. R. S. Craig, his home minister. The Charge was given by the Rev. H. Orr of Hillsborough. It is worth while to record two quotations from that address.

The Rev. Orr said to the young minister "Do the work of an evangelist. That after all is your chief task. The longer I live, the more convinced I am that every minister should be his own evangelist and that we should refuse to allow this most important part of our work to be done by visiting evangelists, called in for the purpose like a consulting physician at a crisis. It may be argued of course that every minister does not possess the evangelistic gifts. That may be true as far as preaching is concerned, but it implies a very limited understanding of the subject. Evangelism is a far wider thing than mere pulpit utterances and you will probably find as time goes on that the best evangelistic work is done outside the pulpit altogether - in your Bible Class for instance, or in the homes of your people, or best of all in your friendship with your members."

The other quote is: "What is called the `pastoral visit' perhaps was never less popular with us than now. Most ministers don't like it and yet I say it is an essential preparation for the Sunday for in that way and only in that way will you get to know your people and their needs in a way that would be impossible by simply gazing at them from the pulpit. I need not remind you of the importance of knowing your homes."

Mr Mulholland, in his address, thanked the congregation for the greatest honour that any congregation could do for any young man. He made no promises about what he would do, but he assured them that all his work would be for the good of the congregation. There were many present, states a press report, who were deeply impressed by the `obvious enthusiasm' and 'sincerity' of the young minister.

The Rev Mulholland was a bachelor for six years after he came to Dromore; his sister Eileen acting as his housekeeper. She served in the W.R.N.S. and later she became Matron of the Presbyterian Hostel in Belfast. On the 8th September 1938 he married Miss E. Currie, who very quickly won the hearts of the people. The minister took his wife round the families as was expected in those days. He himself did a "round of pastoral visits" yearly throughout his ministry.

Mr Mulholland, as be began his ministry in Banbridge Road, was very conscious of the lingering divisions in the congregation. He decided not to be involved and that enabled him to carry on with his work for all the people. He was the right man at the right time.

The new hall, like many new halls at that time, was used for the Sunday School work and that was all. There was a small room upstairs at the back of the hall and the Committee used this for their monthly meeting. Eighteen months after the opening the first request for the use of the hall came before the Session. Some young people asked to be allowed to start a Badminton Club. This was granted on the condition that the property would not be injured and that play would be over by 10 o'clock. This proved a very successful club and apart from the war years, was active until the present time.

The minutes of Session and Committee reveal nothing startling - mostly routine business, the Session receiving new ccmmunicants twice a year, the Committee passing accounts and looking after the property. Much more revealing are the Annual Church Reports with their inclusion of the Annual Reports of the organisations and societies.

By 1933 there was a very successful Girls' Auxiliary and a Junior branch with a total membership of fifty. In 1934 a Ladies' Work Class commenced.

They applied themselves to helping to clear the debt on the hall, which was about �48. As the result of a sale of work over �110 was raised (a very large sum in those days). How much this congregation owes to its ladies who again and again over the years ahead came to its rescue.

By 1937 the Work Class had become the Work Guild. A Boys' Auxiliary was started in 1942 the first report being given at the next Congregational meeting by Cecil Whan, who for many years played an important part in the Auxiliary. In 1943 it was united with First Dromore branch. After a number of very successful years the union was broken. The Girls' and Boys' Auxiliaries had a very definite missionary slant and were a very important organisation in many congregations. In Banbridge Road the senior branches closed down in 1949, as did the Junior B.A., the Junior G. A. continuing for a time. The reason for this will become clear later.

In 1939, when war was declared, the hall was commandeered by the Army and the men of the 202 Field Ambulance (who came mostly from Wrexham) were in it for a long period. Shortly after the soldiers arrived a canteen was proposed. This was held in the old Masonic Hall in Church Street. The churches co-operated in this venture, Mrs. T. B. Wallace being the Chairperson. There was, it is said, no lack of help, ladies old and young volunteered to take their turn. Mrs. Mulholland tells how one evening in early February snow began to fall and Mr. Mulholland went down to meet his wife at the canteen. With difficulty they made it home to find that there was no water and so it continued for six weeks. The author can testify to a similar experience on a number of occasions. Water to the manse was a problem for many years. The house was on a hill and at the end of the pipe line.

In those days there was always a number of soldiers at church. The manse was an open door on Sunday evenings, any soldier could call for a chat and a cup of tea.

At the time the Church hall was built a Memorial Gate to the grounds was presented by Mr. George Ervine, who had been co-opted an elder from Magherally in 1930. This gate became a source of controversy with the Ministry of Finance during the Second War. Metal railings and gates were by law commandeered to help with the war effort. However, railings and gates of Church property were excluded. Immunity did not extend to the railings and gates of a church hall. Because the Ervine Gate was a memorial and the taking away of the railings would have left the hall very exposed it was decided to challenge the decision. After some months of correspondence the following letter (see page 41) was received from the Minister of Finance. That, it would seem, was the end of the matter, and the Memorial Gate.

A united Christian Endeavour was active at that time, First Dromore and the Methodist congregations along with Banbridge Road sharing the responsibility.

The final letter from the Ministry of FinanceMr. Mulholland joined the Home Guard and was made a Sergeant and coped well with the training.

The Rev. Mulholland received a call to Moseley, Birmingham, in October 1945. From there he moved to St. John's Wood, London, and then to Derby where he stayed until his retirement in 1971. He and his wife came back to Ireland in 1974 to be nearer their kin. Mr. Mulholland died on the 5th June 1979. Mrs. Mulholland still resides in Coleraine. In a recent letter she has at this time expressed her interest in this history and her good wishes to the congregation.

It can be said without any fear of contradiction that in spite of having taken up his ministry with the shadow of division hanging over the congregation The final letter from the Ministry of Finance and having years of the work of the congregation curtailed by the occupation of the hall by the military, Mr. Mulholland preserved the congregation, and his successor (the Author) many a time testified to the fact that he inherited a congregation of loyal and united people. Herbert Mulholland had played his part well.

The Rev. Hugh R. Moore
Autobiography in the third person.

(When writing about oneself, one must strive to be truthful. Truth is more important than modesty. The writer hopes he has achieved both).

The Rev. Hugh R. MooreThe eighth minister of Banbridge Road was Hugh R. Moore, who was born on the 19th of the 9th month 1919. He grew up in Belfast and as a small child went to Belmont Sunday School where his father taught. Afterwards when the family moved to Cliftonville they joined Oldpark Church, which belied its name by being on the Cliftonville Road. He went to the Belfast Royal Academy. As a young teenager he attended a united mission�Oldpark and Cliftonville congregations � conducted by Rev. Alexander Frazer of Tain, Scotland. There he made a decision which was to influence the whole course of his life. At the time this happened he was thinking of leaving school and going into his father's business, but in the light of his experience he continued with his studies with a view to entering the ministry. He entered Magee College, Londonderry, and graduated in Arts in

Trinity College, Dublin. His theological course was taken at Assembly's College, Belfast. He preached on a list of six (assistantships were scarce in those days) for an assistantship in Ulsterville congregation � the remuneration was �2 a week (the going rate at that time). However, he found his work in - Ulsterville very rewarding in other ways.

The Rev. Hugh R. Moore As a teenager in Oldpark he had been a Sunday School teacher, and a member in the 14th Belfast Company of the B.B. He had also been assistant leader in the Life Boys. With this background he played his part in the 34th Company of the B.B. at Ulsterville. He was interested in physical fitness, and was put in charge of P.E. When the time came to leave Ulsterville he did so with regret. His large Sunday Afternoon Young People's Bible Class of over 100 and his B.B. work were a source of great satisfaction to him. He loved the people, and the minister and his wife, the Rev. and Mrs. S. R. Jamison, were staunch friends.

He preached for Banbridge Road early in January 1946 and received a unanimous Call, the Ordination and Installation taking place on the 4th April. It was a happy day for the new minister and the congregation, although no-one anticipated that the `marriage' would last some 38 years. It was a happy `marriage' and for him the beginning of many happy years in Banbridge Road.

At the reception on the day of his Ordination, Mr. Moore, recalled how when he was a boy attending a Sunday School social a young girl recited a poem, the recurring words of which were `God has a plan for every man and he has one for you.' The new minister looking back over the years said he now realized the significance of those words.

Having paid tribute to his parents, his minister, the Rev. J. Dunlop, his Sunday School teachers, his professors and his friends, he had this to say of Ulsterville�If I had to spend my assistantship days over again I would not wish to spend them in any other congregation,' and he went on to pay high tribute to the Rev. S. R. Jamison.

Mr. S. J. Duffy, the Clerk of Session, in his welcome, said, "We have reason to believe that the settlement to-day will be the prelude to many years of happiness and blessing both to Mr. Moore and the congregation." The next 38 years, it can be safely claimed, proved this to be true, for the minister at any rate!!

The following is an extract from a letter Mr. Moore received from the Rev. Herbert Mulholland, his predecessor, a few days after he received the Call. "You are a very fortunate young man to start your ministry in Banbridge Road. My own ministry there lasted 13 years, during which I had no worries, no quarrels, and no unpleasantness of any kind. I say this not to take credit to myself but rather to encourage you concerning the people you will have to work with through the next years. You will get plenty of support and plenty of friendship. You will understand that after 13 happy years there my attachment to the place is very strong, as is my desire that they should do well in the future." Mr. Moore often testified to the truth of these words, and at the end of his much longer ministry he was able to commend the congregation in a similar ,way to his successor.

Mr. Moore was Moderator of the Presbytery on two occasions 1962 and 1977 and in 1979 he was elected Moderator of the Synod. He represented the congregation for a number of years on the Committees of several rural schools. He was also on the Committee of the Primary School in the town for most of his ministry and was a foundation member of the Board of Governors of the High School upon which he served for thirty years.

Mr. Moore was a year and four months in Banbridge Road when he married Miss Ethel McNutt, who came from near Claudy, County Londonderry. She was born in Didsbury, Alberta, Canada, where her father had been a minister in the Presbyterian Church of Canada before retiring, to return to Ireland to farm. Mrs. Moore trained as a teacher at Victoria College. After settling down in the manse, Mr. Moore and his wife paid a visit to every home�a demanding task, but worthwhile as Mrs. Moore from the beginning knew the congregation as well as her husband. They had three children, two girls and a boy, and when the youngest reached school age Mrs. Moore took up her profession again. After a time of `subbing' she was appointed an assistant in Ballyvicknakelly Primary School and later became its headmistress. When the school closed she became a peripatetic teacher with the Southern Education Board from which she retired in September 1984. The daughters are married and live in the area, the son in Belfast.


While those who were present on the day of Mr. Moore's Ordination may have been impressed by the Presbytery's service, the lavish luncheon provided and the enthusiasm of the welcome, no one could have been impressed by the state of the church building. For over 30 years a major renovation had been contemplated, but indecision, lack of money, and then during the war the scarcity of materials and the war-time restrictions had made this virtually impossible. Now with the war over, and a new minister, the congregational Committee's first thoughts were `to get on with' the long delayed renovation. More money seemed to be the first essential. Mr. Moore was asked if he would pay a special visit to each home to get pledges as to the extent of their financial support. A letter was sent to every family indicating what was proposed.

Banbridge Road Church before renovation in 1953

The Church after the renovation 1953/4

Although the new minister did not anticipate such an undertaking with any great joy, it was carried out and there was a good response. The money given or promised, together with the money already raised over a number of years, gave the Committee the impetus to get on with this major undertaking. Later that year, Mr. George Hobart, of Hobart and Heron, architects, who lived locally, was asked to draw up plans.

Dedication of Memorials and GiftsAt this time an application for permission to carry out the work was lodged with the Clerk of the General Assembly. After the war only a limited amount of structural work was permitted. Dr. Gailey, the Clerk, informed the Committee that it would be the following year before the congregation would get the required permit. Even a store which was proposed in anticipation of the Church renovation, was held up for a time by the Ministry of Finance. In the meantime Mr. Hobart had plans drawn up and brought them to a meeting of Committee held in December 1951. Mr. Hobart indicated that the work would cost about �14,000 (it was to cost over �20,000) and that it was unlikely that a permit for such a large amount would be issued. During the next few months a number of Committee members visited various churches to get ideas. In July 1952 final plans were drawn up and a permit again applied for. It should be understood that in those post-war years a certain amount of capital expenditure was allocated by the Ministry of Finance to the Presbyterian Church, and this in turn was allocated by the appropriate Assembly's Committee over congregations. The Banbridge Road renovation was considered in those days to be a `big job.'

Four tenders were submitted to the Committee by Mr. Geo. Hobart on the 10th June 1953. The contract was ultimately placed with Messrs. John Graham, a local firm. The work commenced in the Autumn. An information letter was sent to each home setting out the arrangements for the following twelve months. The hall was to be specially arranged to create an atmosphere for worship; the Sunday School was to have the use of five class rooms in the Primary School. There were to be two Harvest Services both morning and evening.

Dedication of WindowsDuring the next few weeks the church was literally gutted, the pews, the gallery (which ran right round at that time) the ceiling and the floor were taken out; just a shell with a roof remained. It was at the same time a sorry and a glad sight. The following twelve months saw many Committee meetings as inevitably changes had to be made and decisions taken, often at short notice.

Two interesting matters are worth a mention. When the new gallery was taking shape the Committee felt that the front was too high and boxlike, besides those sitting in it would not be able to see the front of the church at ground level. Under pressure from the Committee the contractor decided to lower the front by a few feet. This was quite an undertaking. The gallery had to be raised on jacks, the tops cut off the steel stanchions and the steel beam that ran along the front of the gallery lowered into its new lower place. It was successful, and while this was a great improvement it was still felt by the Committee that it was too high at the front; however, nothing more could be done.

The other notable matter was the ceiling. The plasterers decided that to make a good job of the ceiling it would have to be floated in one period of' time. So they began one morning and worked all day and all through the next night until the next evening, 36 hours non-stop. It proved an excellent job. The foreman plasterer, John Calder, was a member of the congregation and wanted the best; he also designed the rosettes on the ceiling and was responsible for the fluting and other plaster work in the Apse. Work well done!

The design of the furnishings was important. Many of the items were to be memorials so they had to please the donor and at the same time blend in with the redesigned building. The Communion Table, the Pulpit, the Baptismal Font and the Reading Desk have always been praised for their workmanship and design. Gradually the building began to take shape. Many members and all the organizations offered to pay for gifts, furnishings, windows and carpeting. The most generous gift was of course the Memorial Organ, valued to-day at nearly �30,000.

As the end came in sight, oh how slowly! there was great enthusiasm and great disappointment�the church would not be ready for the Harvest Services, besides it would be difficult to hold the Harvest Services and the reopening in the same month. It was decided to ask the other churches to allow the congregation to come out of the harvest rota and to have its harvest services in September and then to have the opening and dedication in November.

This plan worked out well and had the good will of all. The opening services were to take place over a period of four Sundays with a target of �5,000�a very large sum at that time. By the end of November the target was reached with. the help of several substantial contributions. It was a time of great rejoicing and gratitude. The members were proud of what had been achieved. For months there were visitors and friends and former members at every service to see the renovated and refurbished church. The photographs before and after give some idea of the change that took place.

The Re-opening Services were held on the 14th November, 1954. Prof. R. J. Wilson, M.A., B.D., dedicated the Memorial Organ and the other gifts (see list). Three of the windows were also memorials and a fourth window was the gift of the Girls' Brigade.

Four years later The Rt. Rev. Prof. R. J. Wilson was back, this time as Moderator, to dedicate the two remaining windows�one a memorial and one a gift.


With the renovation over it seemed at the time to the Committee and the members that they could rest on their oars. Not so. The congregation was growing and the organizations were expanding and soon it was realized more accommodation was needed. The original hall kitchen was inadequate and a minor hall was needed.

As soon as the debt on the church was cleared the Committee concentrated on a scheme to provide a suitable extension. The new building was ready by September, 1961, and dedicated on the 7th by the Right Rev. W. A. A. Park, M.A., D.D., the Moderator. The opening ceremony was performed by Mrs. Emily McCormick. The Presbytery's good wishes were conveyed by the Moderator, the Rev. Hugh Young, B.A., and the greetings of the local churches by Canon C. H. E. Clayton, M.A. The Committee and congregation were well pleased with another successful project. Pleased as they were the Committee and the congregation could not sit back and say `That's it.'

The opening of the Minor Hall and new kitchen by Mrs. Emily McCormick

The opening of the Minor Hall and new kitchen by Mrs. Emily McCormick


It was a time of considerable increase in the congregation and over the next few years there were greater demands on the accommodation. The main hall needed to be extended and a proper stage constructed. By the mid seventies this was under serious discussion and by 1978 the Committee had decided to go ahead with another major extension. It was decided to extend the hall backwards and build a new area embracing a large stage, a small hall, cloak rooms, new toilet facilities and a shower. It was an ambitious scheme involving some difficult construction work. Plans were drawn up by Jim Cargin, a member of Committee, who played a big part in supervising the work when it commenced. It was a job worth doing and proved very valuable. A typical comment after it came into use was, `How did we ever do without it.' On the 12th March, 1969, four tenders were submitted, the lowest being �9,740, from the McKeown Brothers. This was ultimately accepted. The final cost of the work was considerably greater as there were the inevitable additions and changes. The work was well done and the opening was arranged for Wednesday, 16th September, 1970. It was a fine occasion. And the service was conducted by the Moderator of Presbytery, the Rev. D. H. A. Watson, and there was an address by the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Right Rev. Dr. J. L. M. Haire, M.A., M.Th. In the course of the service a number of valuable gifts were dedicated.

Tragedy upon Tragedy

InscriptionsIn the life of any congregation there are many happy and congenial occasions, but there are also those times of tragedy when the whole congregation is as one in its sorrow; such a time was the death of three innocent victims of terrorism, Mr. and Mrs. William Herron and their daughter, Noeleen, on the 13th April, 1976. The whole town and many beyond were heartbroken. A fire bomb in Mr. Herron's drapery shop in the Square set it on fire in late evening and the family, who lived above the shop, were overcome by the fumes. Every section of the community was represented at the funeral. Hundreds stood outside the full church. The three coffins resting on their trestles at the front of the church were a sad sight for sad hearts. The Rev. Moore had the assistance of a number of local ministers.

In his address as well as expressing sympathy to the bereaved family circle Mr. Moore condemned the horrific deed in these words, ` What stuns � us all into shocked silence is the thought that people could do this to their fellow human beings with malice and forethought." The event was described in the local paper as the worst tragedy to happen in the town in living memory. The Herron family (two daughters Joy and Carol and two sons Derrick and Alister) later presented the congregation with an amplifying system for the church in memory of their parents and sister Noeleen.

Another tragedy, which occurred on the 12th November, 1981, evoked widespread sympathy in the congregation and the community, Mr. Ronnie Pollock was severely wounded when his car was blown up by a bomb as he was driving off from his home. He survived this vicious attack, but lost his legs. He has faced life with great courage and has had the sympathy and encouragement of a wide circle of friends.

In 1981 a former member of the congregation, Wilson Lewis, who was a Police Reservist, was shot. His wife and family presented the congregation with two memorial choir stalls.

And there were others who had grown up in the congregation and left the area who were killed or maimed by the ruthless enemies of our society.

Two other stalls were needed to complete the refurbishing of the choir area, which had never been satisfactorily furnished. These were presented by. Herbert and Mrs. McDonald in memory of loved ones.

The memorial choir stalls were dedicated on Sunday, 22nd November, 1981, by the Very Rev. David Burke, B.A., D.D. Apart from their memorial value they enhanced the front of the church and are much more comfortable for the choir than the chairs that had been previously used.

Memorial Choir Stalls, 22nd November, 1981