James O'Laverty.

An historical account of the Diocese of Down and Connor, ancient and modern (Volume 1) online

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his head. " The Chapel of the Lerkes" was valued in the
Pope Nicholas taxation at 20s. Thomas le Taillour held,
A.D. 1334, under William de Burgo, one carncate of land
"in le Lerkes," in the County of Do-wn. And other post
mortem inqviisition held A.D. 1343, found that Matilda,
Countess of Ulster, received sixty shillings per an. from one
carncate of land in " Lerckes." By an extent in the Sur-
veyor-General's office, it appears that the rectory of " Lyrge,"
containing the tow^nland of Lyrge — the quarter land of
Bolloes, alias Crevysse — and Branye in Patria de M'Cartan,
was appropriate to the abbey of St. Patrick of Down. —
Temp. Ed. VI. Among the rectories leased in 1583 to the
Earl of Kildare was " Leirge comenlie, called Kynaleorty, in
the country of M'Caitan." See Reeves's Eccl. Antiq. Tlie
church of Loughinisland, under the name of " Ecclesia de
Lothenewdn," according to the " Terrier," which says it was
appropriate to St. John's of Down, paid proxies, 3s ; refec-
tions, 3s ; synodals, 2s. It would seem than the churches of
KenUs (Piper's Forth) and Loughinisland became appro-
priate to the Abbey of Do\^^l, when Tiberius. Bishop of


Down and Connor, annexed the Pi'iory of St. John, in the
year 1512, to that abbey.

The diocese of Dromore has encroached considerably on the
north-west boundaries of the parish of Loughinisland during
the last centmy, and at present all the distiict once attached
to the ancient chapel of Magheratimpany is incoi-porated in
the pai'ish of Magheradrool or Ballynahinch, and forms a
portion of the diocese of Dromore. That Magheratimpany
belonged to the diocese of Down at the period of the so-called
Reformation appears from the fact that James I. attached it
by the charter of 1609, ivnder the name of Ballintampany,
with the other chapels in Loughinisland parish to the Pre-
centorship of Down Cathedral, and in the report on the state
of Down and Connor made by the Protestant Bishop (Echlin)
in 1622, it is returned among the other chapels of the diocese.
It is now, however, in the Protestant as well as the Catholic
arrangements annexed to the paiish of Magherach-ool. In
the list of " Popish priests," registered in 1704, John O'Bern,
who was then thirty-nine years of age, and who resided in
Ci'eevyargon, in the parish of Kilmore, registered himself as
" Popish priest" of " Kilmore, Tavnaneeve (Saintfield), and
Magheradroll." No doubt Father O'Bern registered himself
as priest of the last parish on account of the townlands
belonging to the ancient chapel of Magheratimpany, which
had at that time been absorbed into the civil parish of
IMagheradrool, in the same way that Father William Laverty,
parish priest of Saul, registered himself as " Popish priest"
of Saul and Bailee, on account of four townlands of the parish
of Saul, which are still in the civil parish of Bailee. This
was a necessary precaution, for according to the law a priest
was liable to transportation if found outside the parish for
which he was registered. The tradition that these townlands
at one time belonged to the diocese of Down and Connor is


still presemed among the people. The author was told by
Daniel Burns of Drumsnade, that he had frequently heard
his father, who was bom about 100 yeai'S ago, saying that
the towulands of Drumsnade and Magheratimpany were
taken from the priest of Loughinisland and given to the
pi'iest of INIugheradrool. The site of the ancient chapel of
Magheratimpany was in a field l)elonging to Bernai'd Smith,
which is on the south side of his house. It is only a few
perches distant from the neares-t portions of the townilands of
Drumsnade and Dinimaness, and it is probable that those
townlands, together with Cumljer and Ballymacarn, all which
were included in the district sold by MacArtan to Lord
Cromwell, were once attached to the chapel of Magheratim-
pany, and were in the diocese of Down. Not a tiuce of the
chapel remauis, and the site of the cemetery is known only
by a tradition preserved by a woman who died about fifty
years ago at the age of ninety, who used to say that when
she was young it was called " the gi*aveyard." It was sxu-
rounded by a circular rampart and fosse, outside which,
on the sovith-east side, was an ancient well ; but rampart,
fosse, and well have been obliterated by tillage.


In the year 1603-4 a general pardon was granted to the
principal inhabitants of Kinelarty, and, among others, to a
priest named Moriertagh O'Bime, whose name would now
be Murtough Burns.* H(^ seems to have been a man of

* The persons to whom a general pardon was granted were, in
addition to Moriertagh O'Birne, Pbelim M'Cartan, chief of his name,
his sou Patrick, Owen, Donald oge, Owen Modder Aughly oge,
Katlielin oge, Evehne, Margaret, and several other M 'Cartans ; also
to .several persons of the names of O'Birne, O'Rogan, O'Hirill,
M'Eorie, O'Konye, O'Kerene, M'Aniry, M'Linian, &c. This enables
us to form some idea of the families that were formerly located in


considerable forethought, for, in addition to taking out a
pardon, he erected a tomb for himself. The tomb has dis-
appeared, but a slab is lying in the old graveyard, on which
is inscribed —

" Mauritius lapidum Birne hoc coopertus acervo
Quern struxit vivus sumptibus ipse suis.

A.D. 1617."
Moriertagh Birne is covered by this pile of stones,
Which in his lifetime at his own expense he erected.
A.D. 1617.
In Primate Oliver Plunket's list of the priests of the
Diocese of Down in 1670, one Thadeus Byrn is mentioned,
and it is not unlikely that he was the parish priest of

Patrick Burne is returned in the list of 1704 as "Popish
priest" of Loughinisland. He was at that date 51 years of
age, and was residing in the townland of Tievenadarragh.
He had been ordained in 1677 by. Dr. Patrick Tirrell,
Bishop of Clougher. This clergyman died in the year 1737.
Towards the end of his life he was assisted by Father
Murtough Burns, who also resided in Tievenadarragh, and
perhaps in the same hovise that was occupied by tlie Rev.
Patrick Burne. It was near the house in which Bishop
MacArtan afterwards resided. Father Murtough was a
Dominican Friar. His remains rest to the east of MacArtan's
Chapel, under a flat slate stone, which is now broken, and
will soon disappear. It bears the following inscription : —
Here lyeth the body
of the Revd. Father
Mtirtough Bums w
ho departed this
life 26tli day of December
in the year 1757
aged 55 years.


The Rev, Theophilus MacArtan, LL.D., on his return
from the TJniversity of the Sorbonne, succeeded to the parish
of Lougliinisland, 1737, on the death of the Rev. Patrick
Burne, or Burns. Dr. MacArtan became Bishop of Down
and Connor in 1760, but he retained the parish of Loughin-
island till his death, which occurred on the 16th December,
1778. His remains were interred in MacArtan's Chapel.
Under a recumbent tombstone, the inscription at one end
of which commemorates John, Phelomey, and Dominick
MacArtan, the last representatives of the old chiefs of
Kinelarty, whose bodies are there interred, while that at
the other end is as follows : —

This stone recoi'ds tlie death of
the Rev. Theophilus Macarten,
The R. C. Bishop of Down and Connor,
and late P. P. of Loughinisland,
■who departed this life on the . , .
Dec, 1778, aged 78 years.
(For a more extended notice of him see " The Bishops of
Down and Connor.")

The Rev. Patrick MacArtan was appointed to the parish
of Loughinisland after the death of Di'. MacArtan. Father
MacArtan was a native of the parish ; he had been parish
priest of Kilclief for three years pi-evious to his promotion
to Loughinisland. He erected the present chapel, and seems
to have been a very energetic man. Although he possessed
a considerable influence with the landed gentry, yet it did
not save him from the brutal insolence of the Yeomanry.
On one occasion a rufiian, named Bob Brown,* a sort of

* Bob Brown was an important personage in those troubled times.
He was Secretary of the County Down Orange Association, and as
such wrote a letter in January, 1S04, to Lord Lecale, informing him
that his lordship had been elected County Grand Master, in reply to
which he received a very gracious letter from Lord Lecale (the
brother of Lord Edward Fitzgerald !) who declared himself very
grateful for the honour. — News-Letter.


under-agent, who resided in Clough, marched with a few of
his drunkeji companions to the priest's house, and nearly
killed him with the butt-ends of their guns, and at every
blow Brown cried out, " Pray to your Virgin/' Mr.
MacArtan was compelled to give evidence on the trial of
Thomas Russell, who was executed in Downpatrick for par-
ticipation in the abortive rebellion of 1803. The following
is his evidence as reported in the Belfast News-Letter^ of
October 25th, 1803 :—

" The Rev. Patrick MacArtan sworn — Q. Are you not
the parish priest of Loughinisland, in this county ? A. I
am. Q. Had you not a particular parish duty to perform
on the 22nd and 23rd of July ] A. Yes ; on Friday, the
22nd, I was there, and my curate (the Rev. Neal Cannovan)
officiated on the 23rd. Q. The chapel is near James Fitz-
patrick's house % A. Yes. Q. Look at the prisoner at the
. bar, and see if you recollect seeing him on the 22iad of July?
A. If he be the person, I saw him on the 22nd of July,
between three and four in the afternoon. I cannot say I
have physical knowledge of him, but, coupled with the cir-
cumstances, I think he is the man I saw that day at Lough-
inisland. I was playing quoits, and I believe tbe prisoner
at the bar walked to the place where I and my curate were
playing. Q. By virtue of your oath, was the prisoner at
the bar the person you saw on the 22nd of July or not*? A,
I cannot say positively, but, coupled with the circumstances,
I have no reason to doubt that he is the same person. He
came up to me as I was playing quoits, and said that was a
long throw — he was twenty yards distant from me — at that
time I heard there were some Frenchmen on the coasts. I
did hear rumours of a landing. On the next day I was put
in complete possession of the plan that there was to be an
insurrection in Ireland, and that the prisoner was at Fitz-


pati'iok's and had a green coat with him. I went to
Fitzpatrick's house, and was informed that he had left that
morning before daylight, and went the road to Belfast. I
saw the prisoner at the bar, if he be the same person, coming
oat of Fitzpatrick's house on Friday. I was told that he
went by the name of Captain Shield's."*

* The following Address was puWished in the Neivs-Letler : —

WE, the Roman Catholic Inhabitants of the Parish of Loughin-
island, beg leave thus publicly to declare to you our firm
and unalterable attachment to our present Constitution ; our abhor-
rence of every attempt towards Rebellion or Anarchy ; and our
fixed determination to support, by every means in our power, the
present order of things, as by Law established.

We feel ourselves peculiarly called on, at this alarming crisis, to
declare our Sentiments, when our Loyalty has been a second time
put to the test. In Politics, as well as in Morality, to be tempted
is no crime — to resist the temptation is certainly a merit. We have
given this second proof of our Loyalty ; and the only reward we
demand is, the protection of the Laws, and the confidence of our
Protestant brethren, with whom we are ready to co-operate against
all Foreign or Domestic Enemies.

In the late rebellion we stood in the gap and stopped its further
progress — not an individual of your Tenantry appeared in their
ranks — We then received your warmest Thanks — we publicly re-
ceived the Thanks of Government — and we challenge the world to
point out a single instance in which we deviated from our Allegiance
since that period.

With regard to the present attempt made by French Emissaries to
cause anarchy and disorder here, we solemnly make the following
Declaration, before God and the World, and aver it to be the
Truth :—

We declare we were not tampered with by any French Incendiary,
or by any person whatever, except by a man who called himself
RUSSELL, nor had we any previous notice or suspicion that any
such attempt was intended, before Friday, the 22nd of July, being
the day prior to the general alarm ; and even then the mad scheme
was communicated only to a few individuals, who rejected it with
scorn and indignation.

That we now see their plan was to take us by surprize ; first by


Mr. MacArian, as he was riding from Castlewellan, fell
from his horse in a fit of apoplexy and immediately expired,
on the 17th of June, 1805, in the 55th year of his age.
The Commercial Chronicle of the 24th of the same month,
writing of his lamented death, says : — " The history of the
good man's life exhibited an unvaried example of virtue and

propagating the system of terror, on French principles, and, whilst
our fears were afloat, to hurry us as passive Automatons, to be sub-
servient to their diabolical designs, before reason had time to resume
her seat.

That we are convinced the only inducement or hope of success
here was from an unfortunate misunderstanding which lately mani-
fested itself in this neighbourhood between the lower order of the
People on party Business ; they therefore thought us fit subjects to
play on our feelings while our passions were awake.

In our justification we answer by facts — they did not succeed — we
were not seduced.

Moreover, we are decidedly of opinion, that any Person who
would attempt to divide the People, by holding up Party at this
critical moment, when the united efforts of the whole Kingdom is
necessary to repel an invading Foe, must be an Enemy to his

We therefore humbly offer our service to Government, through
you, as Yeomen, or as Volunteers, to do Duty within our District,
under such officers as Government may appoint, and shall be amen-
able t9 such Laws and Regulations as the other Corps of our Descrip-
tion are subject to throughout the Kingdom.

And we further declare that if any Incendiary should venture
amongst us hereafter to disturb the public Tranquillity, we will seize
him and deliver him, in safe custody, to the next Magistrate, that
he may be dealt with as the Law directs.

Signed by PAT. MACCARTAN, P.P.

Dated Loughinisland, ) And for 1320 Inhabitants of the

August 9. \ Parish of Loughinisland.

Sir, Seaforde, August 10.

I HAVE just now received your Letter, inclosing the Address of
the Catholics of the Parish of Loughinisland. I am very happy
indeed that they have a second time resisted the threats and per-
suasions that have been made use of to excite them to Rebellion,
and eventually to their own destruction ; and I am fully persuaded


piet.j. He lived beloved, and he died lamented." He was
interred in Loughinisland, but there does not seem to have
been a grave-stone erected over his remains.

The Rev. William MaoMullan succeeded Mr. MacArtan.
Father MaoMullan was born in Clanvaraghan House, but
his family removed, when he was very young, to Seavaghan,
in Loughinisland. After having received a classical educa-
tion in Downpatrick, he entered tl)e College of jMaynooth in
August, 1797. He was the second student who entered
that college to study for the diocese of Down and Connor.
Towards the end of the presidency of Dr. Flood, the students,
believing that they were deprived of necessary comforts,
while the funds of the college were hoarded up in order to
extend the buildings, instituted a general resistance to the
authority of the superiors. The Board of the Trustees of
the College, after devoting nearly four days to an investiga-
tion into the case, pronounced sentence of expulsion from
the college against five, who were convicted of formal
disobedience, two from the diocese of Cloyne, two from
Limerick, and the fifth was Mr. MacMullan. This sentence
the Board had executed in their own presence, and in the

you will continue the same conduct, should you be a third time put
to trial. — I have only to lament that you did not seize the ruffian
who presumed to single out our Parish from the rest of the County
to make his diabolical purpose known in ; and I trust, if in future
any incendiary comes among them, they will not let him escape. It
gives me very great pleasure to know that he met with encourage-
ment but from a very few, and these few will be made accountable
to the Law for their conduct. I cannot let this opportunity pass
without returning you my thanks for your conduct on this and everj
other occasion for these twenty years past, whenever the peace and
Tranquillity of this Parish has been endangered.
1 am. Sir,

With much regard,

Your humble servant,


presence of all the professors and students, assembled for the
purpose in the college chapel, on Thursday, the 8th of March,
1803. It is remarkable that each of those young men.
attained afterwards eminent positions in their respective
dioceses, and now, after the lapse of more than seventy yeai-s,
the friendly and familiar letters that passed between them
and some of the leading professors, testify to the generous
natures of the young men ; and, while they palliate, if they
do not justify, their offence, seem to indicate that the Board
might have discovered on the professional chairs of the
college the real authors of the resistance to the superiors.
Mr, MacMullan was at that time a deacon, and he naturally
feared the displeasure of his uncle, the Most Kev, Dr.
Patrick MacMullan, but the Primate, Dr. Richard O'Reilly,
who admired his candour, became his apologist, and he was
ordained a priest by his uncle on the 9th of July, 1803. He
removed to Newry in March, 1804, where he conducted for
some time the Diocesan Seminary, under the immediate
superintendence of the Most Rev. Edmund Derry, Bishop
of Dromore, by whom he was offered the parish of
Clonduff. He was collated in November, 1805, to Loughin-
island, which he held for upwards of forty-one years. Mr.
MacMullan favoured the public with letters in the Ulster
Recorder and the Irishman, under the signature of
" Ultonius," on the important questions of the day, and
in 1834 he published "A Reply to the Rev. J. M'Ghee,
in Defence of Catholic Tenets." There is extant a letter
written by Father Peter Cassidy, dated Belfast, June 10th,
1808, in which he solicited Father MacMullan to become his
fellow-curate in Belfast, under an arrangement by which the
revenues in that parish, which then amounted to £240 per
annum, were to be divided between them, after paj'ing to
the aged parish priest. Father O'Donnell, a fixed pension of


£70. Mr. MacMuUau, however, declined the ofier. It was
in Mr. MacMullan's house, in Seavaghan, that his uncle the
bishop died on the 25th of October, 1824. A large number
of the clergy wished to postulate the Holy See for the promo-
tion of Mr, MacMullan to the See of Down and Connor, but
the choice of the diocese fell on Dr. Crolly. During the
interegnura Mr. MacMullan solicited the Primate, Dr. Curtis,
to procure for him from Rome the Deanery of Down, which
had been vacant since the death of the Veiy Rev. Dean
Macartan, P.P., Saul, and the annexation to the parish of
Loughiuisland of the townlands of Magheralagan and Wood-
grange, belonging to the parish of Down, which were
arrangements that the late bishop had in contemplation. Th«
Primate refused both applications, on the grounds that he
did not wish to injure the interests of the future bishop.
Father MacMullan died on the 19th of February, 1847, in
the G9th year of his age, and was interred in the same tomb
ia Loughiuisland graveyard with his uncle the bishop ; but
there is no inscription on the tomb to record his interment.

After the death of Mr. MacMullan, Loughiuisland was
administered by his curate, the Rev. Patrick Bradley. This
clergyman, who was a native of the diocese of Derry, was
ordained by Dr. MacMullan, on the 11th of March, 1811.
He officiated as curate in many parishes of the diocese, in
Ballymoney, Bright, and Glenavy, from which he had to
fly, in 1829, to Loughiuisland, where he officiated about
twenty years, until he retired from the mission to his
native place. Father Bradley had to fly from Glenavy on
account of a prosecution instituted against him by the Rev.
James Stannus, for having married Josej)h Kelly, a Catholic,
to Jane Pelan, a I*rotestant. The parties appeared on sum-
monses before the sitting magistrates at the Petty Sessions
of Llsburn, on the 17th of March, 1829. The case was


duly proved, and a warrant was issued to the [iolice, who
scoured the country during the whole of the night in pursuit
of the priest, but without effect.

The Rev. Patrick Dorrian succeeded Father MacMuUan.
Dr. Dorrian having completed his preparatory studies in
Downpatrick, entered the Logic Class in the College of
Maynooth on the 26th of August, 1832. He was ordained
in Dublin by Dr. Murray on the 23rd of September, 1837,
and was shortly afterwards appointed to the curacy of
Belfast, from which he was promoted to Loughinisland,
July 29th, 1847. Dr. Dorrian was consecrated Bishop of
Gabala and coadjutor Bishop of Down and Connor on the
19th of August, 1860, and succeeded to the See of Down
and Connor on the resignation of Dr. Denvir in May, 1866.
After his consecration, Dr. Dorrian removed to Belfast ; but
he retained, until after the death of Dr. Denvir, the parish
of Loughinisland, which was administered by the Rev.
James Cannovan, who was afterwards curate of St. Peter's,

The appointment to Loughinisland, as having been vacated
by the promotion of its parish priest to the bishoprick, was,
by canon law, vested in the Holy See. The Most Rev. Dr.
Dorrian obtained from Rome the necessary faculties, and
appointed the Rev. James Crickard as his successor in
Loughinisland. By referring to the parish of Lower Mourne,
the reader will see that Father Crickard was, on the 1st of
May, 1852, appointed fi'om that parish to Ardkeen or the
Lower Ards, from which he was appointed to Loughinisland,
October 16th, 1866.


Previoiis to the year 1720 Mass was celebrated regularly
in the large church in the island. According to tradition,


the Church of England Sei'vice was conducted every Sunday
in the church after Mass was over. It happened, however,
on one wet Sunday, about the year referred to, that the
Catholic congregation remained for shelter in the church after
Mass was over, and the Protestants were thereby kept outside
in the rain. This displeased the Forde family so much that
they dismantled the church, and built the pi-esent Protestant
Church of Seaforde, which was roofed with the timber of the
ancient church. The Catholics after that were necessitated
to hear Mass in Bohojs. One of these was in the townland
of Seavaghan, in a Held which is still called Parca-na-haltra
(the Altar Park). Another was near the top of the " Bishop's
Mountain," in Tievenadarragh, where the august Sacrifice
of the New Law was offered up on a broad rock, which formed
a natural altar. A third spot consecrated by the celebration,
of Mass in the days of persecution was a large rock in the
Cloughely rocks, in Tievendarragh. It is in a field belonging
to John M'Comb, which is nearly opposite to tiie road that
leads up to the main road from the entrance to the graveyard.
About the year 1740 Dr. MacArtan built a sma.l chapel at
the corner of the three roads near the present chapel. A
part of it is now occujiied as a dwelling house. In 1785 the
Rev. Patrick MacArtan commenced the present chaj)el, which
was finished in 1787. On a slab over one of the doors is
inscribed —

Hoc Templum Domino Sacrum Cui OmniaServant (Serviunt?)

Fidelium Donis et Nostro Munere Structum

R D. Patt. Mac Car tan,

AD. 1787.

In the ancient graveyard in the island, two bishops and
many priests are interred. The inscription on the tomb of
Dr. MacMuUan is as follows : —


Here lie
The remains of the Rt. Rev. Dr. MacMuUan,
R. C. Bishop of Down and Connor, born 17th of March,
1752, consecrated Bishop 21st September, 1793,
Departed this life on the 25th of October, 1824.

Reguiescat in pace. In fide et lenitate

Online LibraryJames O'LavertyAn historical account of the Diocese of Down and Connor, ancient and modern (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 42)