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Section One



Evening Gone.



Written to mark the centenary of



1891 — 1991

Compiled by Mrs Eileen Cousins, B.A.




Title Page


Foreword by The Most Rev­erend Dr. Robin Eames

The Rector's Acknowledge­ment

Author's Preface



Book Page Numbers


Earliest Times ........... 13

The Golden Age .. 16
`The Plain of the Church' `The Field of the Pool' 20

Parish Life in 1600 23
The 1798s Rebellion ..... 29
Church Discipline in the 18th Century 33

The Role of the Vestry 36

Poverty..................... 42

Foundlings............... 46

Health...................... 48

Roads....................... 54

Pest Control .............. 58
Education 18th and 19th Centuries 60

Employment during 1800's 67

Bewitched or Faery Stricken 71
Church Activities 18th and 19th Centuries 75

19th Century Rectors 82
Rev. B. W. Dolling Rev.

 Henry Murphy Rev.

 Edward Perry Brooke

The AncientChurch 90

`A Very UglyChurch' 94
Rebuilding and Improvement of Present Church 95

A “Raucous Crowd” 101
Public Opinion and Continuing Controversy 116

New Plans for Reredos 123

Further Disunity ........ 126

Pre-War years ............ 134

World War I ............... 138

World War II ............. 150

Dean T. W. Clarendon 167

Canon C. J. McLeod 172

Dean R. Adams .......... 174

Rt. Rev. G. A. Quin..... 176

Canon A. J. Douglas 180

Canon P. J. Synnott 184

Canon R. L. Hutchinson 189

Restoration Work ...... 202

The Interior of the Church 205

The Tower / Bells / Church Clock 214

ChurchWindows ........ 221

The Ancient Silver Communion Plate 227

The Old Rectory ........ 230

Townlands and Place Names                                                                                           

More Recent Place Names 239

Famous Personalities — Assoc­iated with Magheralin 241

A Centuryof Church Minutes 247

ChurchOrganisations 254

Succession of Clergy 279

Organists .................. 282

Sextons ..................... 284

MagheralinParish Church‑wardens 1702 — 1991

The Way Foreward by The Rt. Rev. Dr. Gordon McMul­lan

Acknowledgements References









and to



 both past and present I gratefully dedicate this book and give God the glory.







   It is a great pleasure and privilege to commend this history of MagheralinParishChurch.

    Magheralin is a parish so full of history and possesses a rich heritage of life and worship. Mrs. Cousins has captured so much of that past in the following pages. She has written with obvious love for the church and its people and her words represent many hours of painstaking research.

    Histories of parishes can be no more than extracts from records and provide us with only a list of statistics. "Like An Evening Gone" succeeds where others have failed in bringing to the contemporary reader people as well as things, worship as well as witness, a local community and its parish church and a great sense of the moving tapestry of a church which has seen so much of the passing history of a most interesting part of County Down. I have been privileged to know five of the rectors of the parish, one of whom, George Quin, was to become Bishop of Down and Dromore. On my visits to Magheralin I have always been impressed by the great sense of fellowship and devotion to the church by its parishioners.

    Mrs. Cousins writes of the early history of Magheralin when the village was one of the first districts to be reclaimed by the ancient Irish, of `the plain of the pool', the Battle of Moira, the 1657 Inquisition, the dramatic happenings of Ireland in the eighteenth century and their effect on Church discipline, the work of succeeding Select Vestries, the local school, the periods of material success in the area as well as times of disunity and the parish in periods of war and peace. But throughout the book we are reminded of the Christian witness and service of a parish which brought men and women of differing social classes together to worship Almighty God in this ancient church.

    This book provides the reader with a wealth of detail about church and community life in Magheralin. Above all, it speaks of years of worship by clergy and people whose love for the Church of Ireland was a focal point of their interest and outlook.

I congratulate Mrs. Cousins on this book and I hope it will be widely read.






The Rector's (Roland L Hutchinson) Acknowledgement


    I am glad that our Centenary Celebration necessitated and encouraged the writing of this book. I realized it would be a most formidable task which only one could undertake, and, when asked, Eileen Cousins agreed to do so as a labour of love for her Saviour and her church.

    Words fail to express the debt of gratitude we all owe to her, not only the parishioners, but also the entire community and indeed the church at large. After months and years of painstaking research in parish manuscripts, in diocesan records, and gathering information from the local and national press, from individuals and from many other sources, she has produced a work for time and antiquity that will continue to enrich the minds of all who read it.

    "Like An Evening Gone" is not merely an historical account of the church in Magheralin, but also a most enlightening insight into rural life in Ulster in times so different from our own. It is a book which will engender a new appreciation of our church, so steeped in history and so rich in architecture, as well as a renewed interest in local customs, places and people.


                                                                                                            Roland L Hutchinson


Author's Preface


"I have considered the days of old the years of ancicent times

.Psalm 77:5

For inquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers: Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out oftheir heart?" Job 8 : 8,10


    At 4.30 a.m on the 22nd May, 1988, parishioners of Magheralin gathered on the site of the ancient church to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of John Welsey. As dawn broke, the flame vapour trail of a Jumbo Jet climbed into the distance, carrying as many as 400 passengers on a transatlantic flight. The juxtaposition, of the crumbling ancient ruins and the symbol of technology and progress epitomising the 20th Century, has remained a vivid and moving image. It was a moment of solemn realisation to consider that we were standing at the end of almost 1500 years of worship in Magheralin. The hymn writers' words were more relevant than ever.


"A thousand ages in Thy sight, are like an evening gone"


    It seems appropriate that this short history should take its title from such a poignant image. "Like An Evening Gone" is the story of the struggles and achievements of the people of Magheralin down through the ages. While I have tried to record these as accurately as possible, lack of documentary material in some places inevitably leads to gaps. However, with all its shortcomings, my hope is that, as you turn the pages, you will be transported into that bygone era and that you will gain some insight into our past.

Macauley once said:  "A people who takes no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered by remote descendants."

    As we stand at the threshold of a new era and prepare to go toward the 21st Century we can only pray that our own achievements will be `worthy to be remembered by remote descendants!

    I count it a great honour to have been asked to compile this history of MagheralinParishChurch. I felt privileged to read through the early documents and church records so meticulously kept by our ancestors. Where possible I have endeavoured to reproduce these in the book, in an attempt to share with you something of the tremendous sense of the past which I experienced during my research.

    As I lay down my pen, I wish finally to record the help, encouragement patience and support given by my family during the writing of this history.











Earliest Times


"Yesterday was one of the most romantic days that I ever spent and I am convinced that after reading this letter you will have concluded that I am bewitched or faerystriken".(John O'Donovan)


John O'Donovan, attached to the 'Great Survey of Ireland' in 1834, wrote these lines, having spent a day walking around the Parish of Magheralin. However, the romantic perspective captured here does not belong solely to the past. The country lanes and roads of Ballymagin and Feney still retain their beguiling magical quality. On a still summer's evening, a sense of the past still emanates from every curve in the road, from every tumbled down stone building.

Magheralin, however, has not escaped the relentless march of progress which has characterised the 20th Century. During the post war years, expansion was closely linked with the establishment of Express Dairies ('The Bovril' see attached photo), which manufactures milk products. Recent years have seen considerable housing development in the village and now Magheralin is fast taking on the role of a 'dormitory town' of increasing importance.

Today, the village is grouped around the confluence of a number of roads, many of them following the old tracks and paths first made by the early settlers. The signposts direct the traveller to the 'new' city of Craigavon and the capital city of Belfast. The InternationalAirport is only 20 minutes away.

The very early 'beginnings' of this village of Magheralin are not documented in detail. However, despite the sparse early documentation, references do indicate that Magheralin was certainly one of the first districts to be reclaimed by the ancient Irish. There is a strong suggestion that in heathen times, the village had a populous settlement and, with the spread of Christianity, possibly two churches existed — an abbey church and a monastery.

As we move toward the 21st Century, it is only with a formidable stretch of the imagination that we can try to picture the area as the earliest people found it when they settled here.

The landscape would certainly have been unrefined, coarse and wild. Sparsely populated for tremendous stretches, it was an unpropitious scene, forbidding and primitive in its truest sense. Dense woods and forests covered most of the land and in particular thick forests covered the areas now given to Lurgan and Portadown.

Doubtless, there were considerable incentives to settle in this area. The close proximity to the River Lagan and Lough Neagh, both abounding in fish — would certainly have proved an attractive feature. The woods of Kilwarlin (the wood of slaughter) and Killultagh (the wood of Ulster) afforded excellent hunting.

Throughout the passing centuries since these primal settlements, fragments of the primitive utensils of early man have been turned up in the surrounding areas of the village. Hatchets, chisels, hammers and battle axes of chipped or polish stone were the tools with which the settlers built houses and formed villages. Whilst earlier centuries report the findings of the tools and arrows and spearheads of flint, used by the primitive colonists of Magheralin — other evidence of the settlers has been discovered too.

Writing in the 1800's, the Rev. Henry W.Lett reports:—

"At Mr. Waddell's lime quarries have been found quantities of the actual bones of the natives long ago. This was their graveyard and the mode of sepulture was some form of cremation. After the corpse had been burned, the ashes and bones were placed in a small pot or urn, made of the plastic clay, so well known by the excellent bricks and tiles now manufactured with it, and turned mouth downwards on a flat stone in a hole in the ground about half a yard deep. And just below the kilns, exactly where it was possible to ford the Lagan River there stood a mound which a few years ago was discovered to consist almost entirely of human remains, bearing marks of calcination, evidently of those who had been slain in some great battle".

While much remains to be discovered about the early settlements around the Parish, there are still some visible signs that a very early people lived and worked here. The neighbourhood abounded in forts, and some of these, despite the ravages of times are still evident today.

During the latter part of the 19th Century, a large one existed at Ballymakeonan near the lime quarry, but has since been levelled. This is reputed to have measured 140 yards in diameter.

Many of these forts have been misinterpreted as Danish forts — but it is highly unlikely that there were ever any Danes in this area. The circular banks or raths are really the remains of the fortified or entrenched villages of the very early pre-historic settlers who once dwelt around the village. The forts most probably contained a farmhouse and kept animals from straying. The enclosures would also have protected the animals from nightly attacks of wolves, which were quite common during this time.


The Golden Age


Standing at the end of 1500 years of worship in Magheralin is a sobering thought. Today, as time races towards the 21st Century, the Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity in Magheralin declares a silent witness to the Christian gospel which began in Ulster as early as the fifth century. At this time St. Patrick arrived in Ireland to evangelise a heathen and barbaric people.

In pre-Christian times, these people engaged in spell, charm and incantation to ward off evil spirits. Druid worship existed throughout the country and it was common for these primitive people to make human sacrifices. At special festivals, victims were impaled, shot with arrows or burned in wicker cages.

It was to such a Pagan country, that the Christian gospel was delivered by St. Patrick. As a result, the church flourished in Ireland and the country became known as "the land of saints and scholars".

Tradition has it that a monastery and a nunnery were sited at Magheralin. The first Christian monasteries were simple structures and would have been built of wood or clay and wattle, with thatched roofs. Such monasteries, while simple, included a church, a refectory, the monks' cells, school, library and workshop.

While some confusion exists over the 'beginnings' of the early Christian church in Magheralin, it is known that two saints were associated with its development. It was originally thought that the earliest monastery was founded by St. Colman in the 7th Century.

This view was propagated by the eminent scholar, Bishop Reeves, when he identified Magheralin as the early monastery of Linduachaill or LannMocholmoc. However, this theory has been refuted by the Rev. J. B. Leslie in his 'History of Kilsaran' where he conclusively proves that Bishop Reeves confused Magheralin with Annagasson in Co. Louth (note on this is appended at the end of the chapter).

The new clue to the founding of the church at Magheralin is found in the Calendar of Saints, called the "MARTYROLOGY of OENGUS", written in the year 800, which lists Ronan at 22nd May, with a later note locating him at "LanRonain Find in HuiEchach of Ulster". It has been suggested that sometime in 637 St. Ronan Finn built the first church in Magheralin.

The siting of this first church is obviously lost today. However, through the study of place names — coupled with dates from the Annals of the Four Masters — gleanings from early poetry and backed up by archaeological evidence, we can point with some confidence to two possible sites.

On the ordanance survey map of 1834, a small square mound is visible beside the River Lagan just below Waringfield. To the West, another small rectangular earth work can just be traced. Yet another possible site may be found in the townland of Ballymakeonan and here the name "The Nuns Walk" is perpetuated to this day.

Tradition has it that a monastery and nunnery existed on the present site of Dairy View House. It has been suggested that an underground passageway allowed the monks a safe journey to their church. The tunnel is reputed to lead to the present ancient ruins. Whilst it can not be regarded as absolutely certain that the medieval church stood on or near the site of the pre-Norman church — it is quite possible that it did.

Although references to the early church in Magheralin remain sparse, there is certainly sufficient evidence to assert confidently the existence of an early 6th or 7th Century church which continued to flourish until the 12th Century. In an annal of 1178, reference is made to LANN RONAIN FHINN, chief sanctuary of all ULADIH (Ulster) plundered by John De Courcy and Thomas O Corcrain and its erenach beheaded. Obviously by this date, Magheralin had become one of the most important churches in the area. The next reference to Magheralin occurs in the Ecclesiastical Taxation of 1306 in which the "Church of Lan" is estimated at 20 shillings.

The birth of the first churches in Ireland founded by the gentle monks was the advent of an era now referred to as the "Golden Age". Saints and Scholars devoted their lives to learning and worship. Throughout the Centuries and countless generations, a developing Church Order was established 'The Golden Age' was soon to pass and in the future, ecclesiastical and political pressures abounded to threaten and shake the very foundations of the Christian church.

Archdeacon E. D. Atkinson, in his book, "Dromore An Ulster Diocese'', corrected his earlier confusion of Linduachaill with Magheralin where he offers the following explanation:— "The identification of Linduachail with Magheralin was, we believe, first suggested by O'Donovan, the distinguished Irish scholar and antiquary, about the middle of the last century. He was followed by Bishop Reeves in his "Antiquities" and by most writers including myself in "An Ulster Parish," without question. The facts brought forward by the Rev. J. B. Leslie in his "History of Kilsaran," have however, put a different complexion on the cases, and it may be well to state briefly the main objections which seem to me to render impossible the not commonly accepted theory. According to the Annals Linduachaill was situated on the CasanLinne, and was the site not only of a monastery founded by S Colman, but also of a stronghold of forty Danish pirates, who for some 70 years ravaged the surrounding country as far as 'Teffia' and Clonmacnoise There is no local tradition at Magheralin of either monastery or Danish fort though this is of less importance owing to the shifting of the population. What is of more importance is, that as whereas the Danish rovers usually establish ed themselves either near the sea or on some navigable river as the Shannon — Magheralin is well inland, and it is almost inconceivable that even in the ninth century the Lagan could have been navigable for the Danish galleys so high in its course.

The ancient name of the Lagan was moreover the 'Locha,' and we are unaware of any authority for the statement that a part of it was even know as the 'CasanLinne,' while the "Circuit of Ireland" places that river between the NewryRiver and the Boyne.

Finally the Danes of Linduachaill are said by the Annals to have in 840 ravaged the region of 'Teffia' and in 841 the famous seven churches of Clon-macnoise. Now, the ancient 'Teffia' or Teathbha comprised a portion of the counties of Longford and West Meath, while Clonmacnoise is in King's County, near Athlone on the Shannon, and it a far cry from Magheralin in the North to these midland counties.                                             

But beyond these negative objections Mr. Leslie has given positive reasons for placing Linduachaill at a spot in the County Louth near the junctions of the river Glyde and Dee before they enter the sea, where "Duachaill's pool" — the demon who is said to have formerly infested the place — is still pointed out. Here we find "Annagassan" at the mouth of the river in the townland of "Linns" — distinctly suggestive of "Casanlinne" — affording a convenient landing-place and safe harbour for the galleys of the foreigners. It is still guarded by a great earthen fort, which tradition ascribes to the 'Danes' — more truthfully probably here than in most cases.

Needless to say Annagassan in Louth would be a much more convenient centre for harrying the Midland Counties of Ireland than Magheralin in Down, while within as easy striking distance of Armagh, which the Danes of Linduachaill are recorded to have ravaged in 850 A.D.

About a quarter of a mile from Duachaill's pool is the reputed site of the Monastery of S. Colman Mac Luachan, and here the tradition handed down in the family who have been in the occupation of the land since 1687 is stated to be without doubt or hesitation."






"The Plain of the Church"

"The Field of the Pool"


Two meanings have been given to the name of Magheralin. The dual interpretation arises out of the derivation of the concluding syllable "lin". The name "Lann" signifies "church" and is the same word as the Welsh "Han". In the Charter of 1609 Magheralin is referred to as the Church of Lann and was annexed to the Precentorship of Dromore.

It also quite possible that the termination "lin" is derived from the word "linn" and refers to a pool in the River Lagan which flows through the Parish. The prefix "Maghera" means a plain, or field or meadow — hence we have "the plain of the church" or "the plain of the pool".

The writer prefers the "plain of the pool" as the more attractive and perhaps more authentic derivation of 'Magheralin'. In early times, place names were dervived from three main sources: — (a) Topographical descriptions; (b) Owners or occupiers of the land; (c) Important events in the place's history.

This tradition is carried on even today and the more recent naming of housing estates and developments in the village has followed these patterns i. e., Dollingstown, ClarendonPark, NewforgePark, etc.

Magheralin — "the plain of the pool" not only describes the topography of the area but according to the history annals, also records a great event in the life of St. Ronain Finn, founder of the earliest church in Magheralin.




The plain of the pool" is a description of Magheralin in earliest times. It has been suggested that such a pool had been quite large — perhaps as much as six to eight acres in area. Studies indicate that the pool lay in the meadows and fields behind the Rectory extending towards Moira. Within living memory, this has been a swampy and rush grown area. However, through the course of time, the water has been drained into the PoundRiver, which feeds into the River Lagan. Now reclaimed, the area adjacent to the Steps Road has seen much development in recent years, with the earlier siting of ClarendonPark in the 1950's and subsequent housing developments which have grown up in the past five years.




The derivation of the name 'Magheralin' is also associated with an important historical event, which recalls the fortunes of a certain St. Ronain Finn. The saint is recorded in Canon O'Hanlon's book "Lives of the Great Irish Saints", where we learn from these writings that St. Ronain Finn was of LannRonain.

"He was according to the scholiast on the Felire of AENGUS the son of Saran, son of Colgan. He flourished in the early part of the seventh Century and was the founder of the church of LannRonain FIANN, probably the church which gave its name to the parish known in mediaeval times as 'Magheralin', the last syllable perhaps representing the ancient name of 'Lann'i. e. 'Church'.

The legend associated with the saint tells of a gross insult by SUIBHNE, son of Colman Cuar, son of Cobhthach, King of Dalaraidhe. The story is told in an epic poem which describes the event relating to the Battle of Moira, which is known as 'The Madness of SUIBHNE' (Sweeny). A notable achievement in Irish Literature, the poem dates back to the seventh century recording the disagreement over the siting of Ronain Finn's church.

The story is told that while Ronain was marking out the site of his church along the banks of the Lagan, Suibhne, a pagan, rushed out to hunt him. Finding Ronain praising God, he pulled him dishonourably from prayer and cast his psalter into a pool of water (River Lagan) where it was submerged. Suibhne then left to prepare for the Battle of Moira (Magh-Rath).

Legend says that a day and a night elapsed and an otter returned the book to the feet of the Saint, completely intact. Later Ronain went to the field of the battle to bless Suibhne's army. His actions however, were misinterpreted. Suibhne, believing himself to be the object of much derision and mockery, lifted his spear and killed one of Ronain's followers. He then made an attempt on Ronain's life. For this, the Saint is reputed to have called down the wrath of God on Suibhne, with the result that the King is said to have gone mad. He was so tormented that he fled the field of the battle and wandered all around Ireland, until he came to Donegal, where he died. According to the legend he took the shape of a bird and fled from the battle.

The actual translation indicates that "In the hour of the battle he became so demented that his very soul fluttered and flew from the carnage to become a creature of the wild".

The analogy here is a very interesting one. In early Ireland people of the Celtic race suffered a great fear of birds. They believed them to be omens of evil. At this time it was also accepted that a person afflicted with madness was so light that he could fly. Hence, the statement handed down to us today "as light as a kite" — suggesting unusual behaviour or "madness"!

It has been suggested that Gregorlough might be associated with the legend, Gregorlough meaning "the place of the bird screeching".




Parish Life in 1600




"An Inquisition Indented taken at Downe in the Countie of Downe the eight day of October one thousand six hundred fiftie and seaven" offers the following description of Magheralin: —

"MAGHERLIN parish an ancient Rectorie by the said erection was part of the Chauntorship by which the Chaunter received all the Tythes and Duties thereof which in the year one thousand six hundred and fortie was worth one hundreth pounds (the Gleabe also included) vizt, at present worth seaventie pounds besides the Gleabe being a Sessiagh of land called Tagharan now sett at seaven pounds a year, but in the year one thousand six hundred and fortie worth about twelve pounds.

"The said parish containeth twenty-three townes and two Sessiaghs, the cure served by Mr. James Watson, a preacher in Sellary, the Church is situated neare the middle of the parish, walle and roofe standing but decayed and uncovered without dores and windoes, the furthest of the parish about two miles and a half distant from the Church.

"Tythes paid in kind and Duties as aforesaid, the profitts of which Tythes have been answered and paid since the Rebellion aforesaid for the use of the Commonwealth. There are six Sessiaghs of Killmore in the Countie of Downe which lie within two miles of the said Church of Magherlin, but belonging to Shankell parish in the Countie of Armagh, tythes of them valued at six pounds yearly. "

The following extract proffers an interesting picture of Magheralin in the early 1700's. Taken from Walter Harris' book, 'The Ancient and Present State of County Down', the topographical description is extremely interesting.

"Magheralin, * now called Maralin, is a small well planted and well watered Village feated on the River Lagan, where the Lord Bifhop of Dromore has a Demefne and a good See Houfe, and the Incumbent of the Parish, who is Chantor of the Cathedral, a Glebe and ParfonageHoufe. The Village is adorned with a handfomeChurch and Steeple, and through this Place two Turnpike Roads lead to feveral parts of the Country, and a Stage Coach paffes Weekly from Dublin to Belfast, and back again. The Bifhop'sDemefne was created out of the See Lands by Dr. Tobias Pullein,Bifhop of Dromore, foon after his Advancement here in 1695, and he built the EpifcopalHoufe, which was afterwards enlarged by one of his Succeffors, the present Lord Bishop of Clogher.

''At one End of the Village is a long stone bridge erected over the River Lagan; and at the other Houfe and Improvement of FobnStothardEfq;. Part of the Lands hereabouts, and of those leading to the County of Antrim abounds with a white flinty Lime Stone, mixed with Chalk, which renders the Springs iffuing from the higher Grounds extremely foft, well tafted, and particularly noted for warning and whitening Linen. This Limestone is like to prove an useful Manure for Wheat and Wheat Grounds; and the Grafs and herbage growing on the Places, where it appears, is remarkably sweet. Marie Pits have been lately opened in the Neighbourhood; and near it are several Linen Manufacturers of Bleach Yards, there being scarce a farmer hereabouts but what carries on some Branch of the Linen Business. "




In 1609 a Charter was issued by James 1 to reorganise the Cathedral bodies of the Dioceses of Down and Dromore. The Charter provided that the Chapter should consist of a Dean, Archdeacon, Chancellor, Precentor, Treasurer and Prebendary "for the Precentor, the rectories and vicarages of Lann (Magheralin)". Although many of the above positions are today purely honorary, the preferment of the present Rector, Canon R. L. Hutchinson, to the position of Precentor of the Chapter in 1989 was another milestone in the history of the Parish.

During the first half of the 17th century relative peace and stability reigned in the church. However, momentous events loomed in the political world which had terrible repercussions for our Diocese and the country in general These inevitably led to the most famous date in Ulster's history — that of 1690.

The earlier part of the century had seen the outbreak of the Great Rebellion in 1641. Under Elizabeth and her successor James 1, the greater part of Ulster had been declared forfeited and the "Flight of the Earls" in 1607 created a favourable opportunity to try the experiment of a plantation on an extensive scale.

Those who were dispossessed of their land at this time, were further embittered by the harsh Penal Laws pressed upon them. The violent insurrection which broke out in 1641 was inevitable. Large numbers of the Protestant population were slaughtered and many churches burned — Magheralin included. A fearful retribution was exacted by Cromwell in 1649 — and the savagery exhibited on both sides has produced such bitter memories as are carried to this day.

The confiscated lands were balloted to pay the troops. The harsh alternative offered to the vanquished being "Hell or Connaught". It is evident that many in our Parish suffered under this terrible regime. After the death of the Lord Protector many of those banished to Connaught returned to Ulster and in our congregation today are such names as Murphy, Maguire, Lavery, Callaghan, McConville, Magowan, McCormick, which bespeak the old inhabitants of the Parish and the influence on them by such a large body of Anglican Christians.




At the outbreak of the Rebellion most of the clergy in the Diocese were driven from their churches by the Roman Catholic rebels. Many parishes in the Diocese lay vacant during this period — their ministers having fled in fear of their lives. In Magheralin, the lawful rector, Rev. Diggory Holman opted to stay and live in the parish, though obviously in danger of his life and under considerable suspicion. In an Order in Council dated 1659 we read: —

"That it be referred to Robert Fenwick and William Warren, Esquires, and the Justices of the Peace in County Down to enquire by all ways and means into the lives and conversations of Francis Reddington, Minister of Upper Iveagh, and Mr. Diggory Holman, Minister of Magheralin, in the said County of Down". (IrelandUnder the Commonwealth).

The Bishop of the diocese went into exile until his death in 1652.

At first Presbyterian Ministers and later Independent and Anabaptist preachers intruded into the vacant parishes. The Parish of Magheralin saw several intruding ministers — Andrew McCormick in 1655; Anthony Buckworth in 1650 and the most notorious of the day, Mr. Andrew Wyke in 1659. This gentleman is typical of the ministers who forced their way into the empty churches. Described as an Anabaptist, Mr. Wyke was "void of human learning, never educated in that way, but a tradesman and imprudent".




The "Council Books of the Commonwealth" reports: — "Ministers of the Gospel, Appointments, Salaries, etc. 1658-9. The English inhabitants of the Parish of Magheralin in the County of Down have by their humble petition to this board, prayed that Mr. Andrew Wyke be appointed their minister. His abilities, moderation and Christian conversation are very well known to them and others. He is willing to embrace the said Parish if ordered thereunto, for a great part of the said Parish consists of English and the most of Donacloney (where he now officiates) consists of Papists and Scots (i. e. Presbyterians) who are so bound up in their own judgements that they will not admit of any other. The said Donaghcloney being contiguous to Magheralin aforesaid — upon consideration thereof, it is held fit and ordered that the petition desired be agreed with and the said Mr. Wyke is hereby appointed to preach the Word to the inhabitants of the said place until further orders, withal taking care of his former charge near adjoining and other places thereabouts as occasion shall be administered. Dated at Dublin — 28 September 1659. Thomas Herbert, Secretary. "




After the death of Bishop Buckworth in 1652, we learn from Ware that "the See was for a long time vacant, occasioned by the iniquity of the times". On the 27 January, 1661, Dr. Jeremy Taylor was consecrated to the Bishopric of Down and Connor, and later in the same year was, in addition to his original diocese, entrusted with the administration of that of Dromore. His was a formidable task — appointed to rule over a diocese in which the official representatives of religion unanimously repudiated his authority — his situation was an impossible one. Not reputed for shirking his responsibilities, Jeremy Taylor declared all 36 parishes in his Union of Dioceses vacant, and returned new clergy — for the most part from England.

A local tradition indicates that Jeremy Taylor resided at Magheralin for a time and frequently preached in the OldParishChurch. Undoubtedly, he owned a farm of 40 acres in the parish; however the Episcopal Residence was not built until the time of Bishop Pullein in 1695.

Bishop Jeremy Taylor ruled the Diocese for something less those seven years. But during this time — due to his influence and efforts — the church prospered. He died, on the 13 August 1667, after a short illness from a fever he caught from a sick man, to whom he had been ministering.

The stability and calm, known in the parish after 1661 was unfortunately short lived. In 1689, having fled from England, King James summoned a largely 'Patriot Parliament'. The main objective of this was to restore Catholic Power. Once again the dark clouds of strife gathered over Ireland. It was but a short step from this political move to the two armies meeting at the Boyne in 1690.




Despite the legend immortalised in the song "The Ducks of Magheralin" it is a matter of conjecture, whether King William ever did pass through Magheralin on his way to the Boyne, and order up ten thousand pairs of boots for its inhabitants! However, the fact that the village has known the march of armies and civil unrest during the 17th century is more accurately documented. There can be no dispute that the village saw much strife during this period. It is interesting to note from the diary entries of a certain Colonel Thomas Billingham that Magheralin was no backwater. Colonel Billingham accompanied William III to Ireland and his diary entries during the years 1688-1690 are enlightening.

June 1 Sunday — much rain. I went to Magheralin (Macharelin) heard Mr.Cuppidge preach, dined at his house with the Colonel of the Brandenburg Regiment and was after with Major Williams and Captain Brereton at Mrs Kelly's. Ye Lord Drogheda passed by.

June 15 Sunday — A fair day. I went to church and dined with Mr. Cuppidge. Heyford's Dragoons are quartered at Magheralin.

The tide of war was certainly turned with the defeat of James. The result was that Ireland was left in the hands of the Protestant Ascendancy.

All of these events have a major significance for the Parish of Magheralin. The fortunes of the church certainly improved again after the 1690's and moved from an almost ruinous state to one of prosperity, serving as a pro-Cathedral for the Diocese of Dromore. When the old See House at Dromore was destroyed in the Rebellion of 1689, the decision was taken to build an Episcopal House at Magheralin.




The Episcopal Residence was erected by Bishop Tobias Pullein after his appointment in 1695. At at a cost of £470, the Bishop's Palace was built opposite to the old ParishChurch on the site now occupied by the Minor Hall. It served as a residence for the Bishops of Dromore for about 80 years. During this time, the church was used as a sort of pro-Cathedral for Diocesan purposes.

In 1782, the Episcopal House ceased to be used and the materials of the SEE HOUSE were advertised in the News Letter.




"To be sold by public cant (auction) at Magheralin for ready money on Monday, 4 day of February next, all the old materials of the old See House and offices there, consisting of a large quantity of exceeding good old oak, old shingles, old sheeting under ditto, flooring boards, old sashes glased and frames for ditto, new sashes unglassed and frames for ditto; brick etc., etc., etc. The cant to begin at half past ten o'clock and continue until all are sold. Dromore, January 18, 1782. "

However, some weeks later, another notice appeared in the same newspaper which very graphically outlines the circumstances surrounding the sale. It obviously was not conducted without its problems. Despite the fact that the majority of the population in the village at that time were members of the Church of Ireland — this did not inhibit them from pilfering and stealing. The notice indicates that the help of Captain Bateman and Lieutenant Close together with the Moira Volunteers was enlisted to prevent the mob carrying away the materials.

"Mr. John Campbell and Mr. Alex Boggs of Dromore beg leave to return their most sincere thanks to Captain Bateman, Lieutenant Close and the Moira Volunteers for their ready, active, generous and disinterested manner of supporting them in the protection of the Lord Bishop of Dromore's property, which was entrusted to their care at Magheralin, and which would have been carried away in a most daring manner by a mob assembled for that purpose had it not been for the interposition of them, the Gentleman Volunteers. Dromore, February 7, 1782. "

It has been said that knowledge of what has gone before can teach lessons from past successes and setbacks. It is interesting to reflect on the fact that in the 1950's — almost two hundred years later, the Vestry of Magheralin had to mount a watch on the effects of the old Rectory. Surreptitiously, materials were carried out, The culprit(s) were never caught.



Terror and Depredation in Magheralin

The 1798 Rebellion


 Peace did not reign for long in the 1700's. The 1790's once again saw much religious strife and fear. The Protestant Peep o' Day Boys' victory over Catholics at the Diamond, Co. Armagh, earned them the reputation of persecution of Catholics. This helped swell the ranks of the newly-formed United Irishmen, a secret organisation, bound by oaths and ready for revolution to assert Ireland's Independence. This Society had little difficulty recruiting Catholics and Protestants appalled by the Diamond incident and other exhibitions of religious strife.

 At the same time, the Protestant Orange Society — later the Orange Order, emerged. Their sole objective was to maintain Protestant Ascendancy.

 With both factions armed and organised, Rebellion was imminent. Rev. Thos Percy, rector of Magheralin 1782 — 1802 received the following advice from the Bishop, regarding the level of involvement, which the clergy should have, in the event of Rebellion.

 "Whenever the moment of peril shall arrive, every clergyman must judge for himself in what way he be most useful; actual fight will often be the last that he will choose, because battle is the particular service for which hewill he least qualified. Should the case be otherwise, he must not decline his share in the common danger."





 That religious strife existed in Magheralin during the 1790's is evident from the Rebellion Papers of the day. Both factions of the community met surreptitiously. In 1796 it is reported that the Orangemen of Magheralin are "very numerous". At one meeting upwards of 40 joined the Society and were sworn to secrecy. The organisation of the United Irishmen is also reported as "increasing in a most alarming degree".

  Magheralin must surely have felt itself in the grip of fear and strife. Terror and depredation seem to have invaded the village. A sinister note is struck in the following account of the times — the extract taken from a letter from the local magistrate:— "The Major and I have brought an officer and 30 men to Maralin and intend moving some of them further on to prevent both Protestants and Papists from keeping guard at night, which they constantly have done for some time past and in such terror for fear of one party attacking the other that the half of them dare not go to bed at night."

  The extent of a Magistrate's powers, obviously caused Mr. Waddell considerable concern. In February 1796, the Insurrection Act had given magistrates the right to search for arms and to hang anyone administering an illegal oath.

 In his letters of July 1796 Mr. Waddell still urges for more direction of his powers. His was the unenviable and formidable task of keeping the peace and bringing to justice those who contravened the Insurrection Act. His concerns are very real here — unfortunately, his worst fears of rioting and strife are confirmed in his subsequent letter dated August 22nd 1796:— "I am sorry to tell you that I have been obliged to order the troops back again to Maralin. They killed a Roman Catholic on Saturday night in a riot, but Thos Douglas and I had the offender taken yesterday and sent to gaol".

 As early as the 1700's, it seems evident that Parishioners were very politically aware.

 After the riots in 1796 — influential members of the village offered to raise a troop of fifty Horse for the service of the country. This was not an unusual request. Around this time, the Government took steps to supplement the army's strength with a Protestant yeomanry and it is highly likely that the offer from the Magheralin Protestants was accepted and that they entered a militia. Indeed many companies were raised throughout the country to assist regular troops to keep the peace.

 When the Rebellion was finally launched in May 1798, only the counties of Down and Antrim in Ulster, rebelled against the government. However, the insurrection was soon defeated, though the actual problems were far from resolved. That the clergy of the Diocese justifiably feared for their lives is demonstrated in an incident at Ballynahinch, where one of the ministers of the Diocese was killed by the rebels, E. D. Atkinson records.

 "A clergyman of the Diocese of Down, the Rev. Mr. Mortimer, Rector of Comber, was shot by rebels at Saintfield — while it is recorded that the Vicar-General of Dromore and the others of the clergy formed a scouting party and with great bravery got into Ballynahinch, where they collected a good number of muskets and pikes and superintended the burial of the dead".




 Several interesting letters from the local Justice of the Peace illustrate the climate of feeling in the village during this period. The following communications indicate something of the suspicion, prejudice and sectarian unrest, which divided the community.  Islandderry, July 28th, 1796


 Dear Cole, I was in great hopes that all matters would have been at an end in this country as some of the Orangemen escaped correction at our last Assizes by bringing the evidence only. However, I know part of them got a good fright, but from the temper of the people and some papers" that have been stuck up on the doors of Publick houses, one of which I send you, it looks as if they mean to begin again.

 However we will not give in to them as easily as they imagine. For if government gives me directions I will keep them down if I can and am not clear it will be very easy. They have got leave to run too far and are getting very numerous and impudent and are I really think for mischief of some kind as they are binding themselves by secret oaths and are under the command of Captains made by themselves, low fellows in the country. I should think if some of their leaders were taken it would have a good effect in the country and have them and their papers seized together and sent to Dublin.

 I was searching the Papist houses in Drumnabreeze for unregistered arms, having information to that purpose on last Saturday, but did not succeed, though I am sure they have them concealed somewhere in the place or about it. Two young men, Protestants, gave some little information and say they will give me more but I do not wish to summon them yet for three reasons. They told me they were very great with the Papists before they were made Orangemen. I think they said they were made with about forty others lately in Maralin. A person produced an oath to them and laid it on the table after having read it to them, which they took voluntary and told me they couldn’t tell me the contents of it as they were sworn to secrecy, but acknowledged they were under the command of a Captain and mentioned his name, as well as the person who read the oath to them.

 They have made this discovery without as yet knowing the danger of it and I took care not to alarm them until I should have the opinion of the Government how to proceed, I know the common method. But as I told you in May last, I would wish to have their answer for the reason I gave. So it rests for the present and I make no doubt but I shall be able to promise new information on the subject.

 The people in the neighbourhood of the Black Skull are determined to be made Constables notwithstanding their threats and I think they ought to be encouraged. I am to meet them on Thursday night about it. Once make a beginning and the rest will be more easily backed up. My opinion to you is that some active means must be taken or these accusations will end in something very unpleasant, and probably if they get leave to run on will not be stopped without much trouble.

 The only information I have gathered about United Irishmen, which we hear is increasing in a most alarming degree, is as follows: A man came to Major Waring and declared he was asked to be one and went with the person to take the oath of Secrecy and upon the United oath being read to him he refused it and went away. He knows who tendered him the oath, whose trust it was in and the others who were present.

 This man and the others I mentioned should be brought forward and made to declare what they know about the matters. If exertions are not made on these occasions then things will not be found out until too late. This man is, I hear, a Freemason, but, I think in a business of this sort, there should not be any delicacy observed. I must also tell you that they desired him not to fear as most of the men in Blaris Camp were sworn in United Irishman. But General Nugent seemed to think not when Major Waring told him of it.

 The Major and I have brought an officer and 30 men to Maralin and intend moving some of them further on, to prevent both Protestants and Papists from keeping guard at night which they constantly have done for some time past and are in such terror for fear of one party attacking the other that the half of them dare not go to bed at night. This is as near the truth as I can possibly state matters to be and I really should be glad to receive some direction for myself and other magistrates here. I write this to you as I have not the honour of Mr. Booke's acquaintance and request to hear from you or him about it. I am Cole, yours sincerely, Waddell.



  Islandderry, August 1796


 Dear Cole, lam very sorry to tell you that I have been obliged to order the troops back again to Maralin. They killed a Roman Catholic on Saturday night in a riot, but Thos. Douglas and l had the offender taken yesterday and sent to gaol. I hope the General will send me Protestants as the others don't answer here. When they are debauched the people of the country get about them and persuade them to unite and the Protestants and they cannot agree. They have begun to wreck again, not far from me but not in what we call our country. I hope we will be able to keep it away from us. The people assure me it shall not be. Our Resolution is doing very well in this quarter of the country and I would hope to see it followed up by something similar.

 There are people who do not like the Dungannon Resolutions and give reasons that I think insufficient. But if people don’t like our method of doing good when they are on them, we must encourage them to take their own. The Romans will not sign any paper of the kind now; they complain very hard of not being protected and so on. But the fact is they are mostly united as are numbers or Protestants. But I think if Government take active and proper steps they need not fear them. Also, in they adopt the idea . . . the Protestants they will have very handsome — of well affected people in a very short time. Had they begun with this one year ago nothing of this sort would now be going on in the North.

 Only yesterday some people of respectability came to me and offered to raise freely a Troop of fifty horses for the service of the country if I would take the Command and have Geo. Douglas concerned with me. I told them that I did not understand that business, that I knew he did very well, but that I would directly let their wishes be known to you and that you would lay them before Govt. They seemed to think that if this business is long put of, that it will not do and that hearing of it would soon stop the United Men if they are to be stopped.

 If the Government do adopt this Business you will see our neighbourhood turn out in such a manner as will please you. For the reasons mentioned before I know you will get me an answer as soon as you can. If they should embody their men they should be given to understand that they are to consider themselves as under the direction of Lord Downtime, for many good reasons and I know at this time they will not have any objection to it. You know, as Governor of the country he has a right to expect that and it is right at this time to have it/it should be so. — I am dear Cole, Yours sincerely Waddell.


Church Discipline in the 18th Century


  As can be seen from earlier sections in this history, churches faced major upheaval and crises during the 18th century. Theirs was a world in which various movements and armies were raised — a turbulent world where the tide of war threatened and rolled around them. In every town, village anParish, companies of volunteers and secret movements were initiated. Sectarian animosities epitomised the climate of the day.

  It is against such a secular background that we pause and look at ChurcDiscipline during this time. It might be expected that the Political issues othe day superseded those of religion. But it would be wrong to assume that the church, during the 18th century, had fallen into a somnolent or moribund condition. Despite the turbulent times, the church still exercised a strong control in moral matters. The Diocesan Court pronounced penances on those who broke a moral code estabilished by the Church. Excommunication too, was not uncommon. Until 1922, such sentences pronounced by the Church Courts were preserved in the Records Office,Dublin.

  Judging by the great mass of these the Diocesan Court was not remiss in exacting its duty — nor the church clerks, ministers and congregation slow to bring charges. The misdemeanours and crimes committed by the offenders were publicly denounced. The disgrace and shame from such publicity must surely have acted as a strong deterrent. No doubt, in such a coarse period, such disciplinary action was a much needed check.

  Two examples which illustrate the 'godly discipline' which the church exercised during the 18th century are recorded in E. D. Atkinson's book, "Dromore an Ulster Diocese" and all have more than a local flavour!.

  "Penance to be performed by J. M. of the towne and Parish of Dromore in the Diocese of Dromore, enjoyned by the Reverend John Rowan, Clk., Vicar-General of the said Diocese this 17th day of November, 1732.

  The penitent is to repair to the parish churches of Dromore,Magheralin, and Donaghcloney the three Lord's days next following and, being placed in the most conspicuous places of the said churches, shall stand barefooted and in

a white sheet during the time of Divine Service in each of the said churches respectively and say after the minister as follows: Good Christians, I. J. H. does hereby confess in the Presence of God and you this congregation, and declare my hearty repentance in being so evil an example in committing the sin of adultery with J. B. of the towne of Dromore for which I am most heartily sorry, and I do hereby promise for the future by God's assistance not to be guilty of the like offence, the which I may be the better able to avoid. I desire the congregation here present to pray for me.

  Then the ministers are respectively to read the 51st Psalm to the 14th verse and the two Collects of the Communion, the Lord's Prayer, and the Blessing, the penitent repeating the same after them. So decreed by the Court and attested by Rob Traile: N. P. Regr.


  All which being duly performed, the respective ministers are to certify the same under their hands, which certificate the penitent is to bring to the next Court to be held in Dromore to receive further as the Law appertameth    The penitent is to deliver the above Penance to the several Ministers eight days at least before penance is to be performed  R  T "  The second example offered by Atkinson is that of a voluble parishioner of Moira, Abigail, wife of D McC , was directed to "repair to the Parish Church of Moira the next Lord's Day and after Evening Prayer, she is, in the presence of Thomas Waring, Rector of the said Parish, and some of the rest of the parishioners to acknowledge that she is sorry for the abusive words which she made use of against Sarah, wife of J C , in saying that she, Sarah was a ------to D  McC  the said Abigail's husband"

  Atkinson adds a footnote to these examples "Whether the sight of J H standing in his white sheet in the most conspicuous place in the church was to assist the devotions of the congregations in the churches of Dromore, Magheralin and Donaghcloney, may well be doubted”


The Role of The Vestry


      A vestry was originally a public meeting of all the rated inhabitants of the parish. Because they generally met in the Vestry, where the clergyman kept his vestments, the meeting came to be called a 'Vestry'.

     The Easter Vestry was always held on Easter Monday at Noon - this practice was only changed in 1887, when it was resolved "that the Easter Vestry be held on Easter Tuesday evening at 7.30 p: m. " Removed from the late 17th Century by three centuries, it is difficult for us to imagine the Parish life at this time. Fortunately we have in Magheralin a well documented history in the form of Vestry minutes, which dates from 1702.

     These provide us with an insight into the role of the Church during these early days and record for us the names of those who managed Parish affairs. The custom of the 18th century was for Vestrymen to append their names to the minutes, which were read before the adjournment of the meeting. Many of the early names are unfamiliar today, a few are better known in Moira Parish such as Waring and Logan.

     It is certainly evident that the Churchwardens and Vestry had considerable power and authority in the Parish during the 1700's and this continued during the 19th Century.

     How they dealt with a certain Alice - in 1732 is not recorded - nor are we able to discern from the minutes what misdemeanour she had committed. What is clear however from the following extract is that Churchwardens acted as agents of the law in some respects.

     "It is agreed that one pound three shillings shall be laid on the said Parish and levyed and raised off the said Inhabitiants of said Parish to any person that apprehends Alice - and delivers her into the hands of the Churchwardens."




     Despite the eminent role played by the Vestry in the local community, these men were not, as might be expected, always literate. In an age of limited educational opportunities the practice observed by Vestrymen - that of appending their names to the minutes - is revealing. The many sprawling and often illegible signatures would indicate that the toil of caligraphy was no pleasure to them. Often, some members, unable to write their own name simply made their mark.

     On the following pages can be found some examples of early signatures appended to Vestry minutes.





    Nevertheless, however lacking in literary talents some of these men might have been - they were certainly modern politicians and government administrators. In 1700 the function of the Vestry was not, of course, restricted to matters concerning the church. Their role extended far beyond Parish affairs and included Road Maintenance and BridgeBuilding, Health, Education, Care of the Poor, and Provision for Foundlings.

    In today's modern society, these people would be Surveyors in the D.O.E., Adminstrators in Health and Social Services, Educationalists and Social Workers. Their role even extended to that of to day's Tax Man! Revenue for the above projects was raised by the Vestry who imposed levies and tithes on the Landowners in the Parish. Churchwardens were appointed at the Easter Vestry and were responsible for collection of these. Outgoing wardens were then expected to settle their accounts on Whitsun Monday.

    On numerous occasions, this duty appears to have presented some difficulty as indicated in the following Vestry minute of September 1795:”.... whereas it appears that the churchwardens have for some time neglected settling their accounts it is ordered that the Reverend Mr. Smith do take such measures as the law directs to compel them to a settlement".

    Whether this situation arose as a result of the Landowners reticence to pay their tithes, or whether it was due to the fact that the Churchwardens in question were somewhat remiss in their duties and failed to collect the tithes, is not known. However, such a situation was not uncommon, and the Vestry was sometimes forced to adopt stringent measures to compel settlement of accounts.

    The Vestry minute of 1825 suggests that tithes were difficult to collect - and therefore settlement of accounts often posed problems.

    "At a court of Vestry held by adjournment in the Parish Church of Maralin on Monday, the 13th day of June, 1825, The Minister, Church Wardens and principal Inhabitants being present.

"Whereas the Church Warden John Simpson has reported at this Vestry that Mrs has refused to pay parish accounts for a portion of ground in her possession - the minister is requested to write to her upon the subject and so take means for procuring payment of the same. The same Church Warden has also reported that ------------of Edenmore has absconded without having paid his Parish accounts. This Vestry have found it necessary to pass the said Church Warden's accounts allowing for the accounts sustained thereby being 1 s - 8d, provided said Church Warden pay up his accounts to that sum."

    It appears however, that the Church Warden in this case was not satisfied with the resolution. He evidently had some further grievance as the remainder of this minute indicates.


     "John Simpson having refused this day to pay his accounts unless certain terms insisted upon him should be complied with, which terms the rector and others present think unjust and illegal, it is therefore agreed that this Vestry be adjourned till Monday, the 3rd of July next, to allow a fuller meeting to submit said claims and conduct to their consideration and to devise the proper legal means for compelling said John Simpson to pay his accounts"

     The adjournment was not successful in this case, as we discover from the next Vestry minute that "John Simpson has not paid his account in full",

     In 1826 the total amount of arrears was £ 13- ] 7 -91/2• This sum was the result of arrears accumulated from 1822. The Churchwardens were ordered to "immediately proceed by process against the following persons former Churchwardens, for the arrears of their accounts viz.

Robert Gardner for arrears of 1822/23 £5-19-]]

Adam Lilburn for arrears of] 823/24 £4-4-] 1/2

John Nelson for arrears of] 823/24 £] -I-II

John Simpson for arrears of] 825 £2-11-10

     The many varied roles played by Vestrymen are catalogued in the following pages in an attempt to answer the question: "What was life really like in Magheralin during the 8th and]9th centuries. "


42 Poverty


Chronic poverty was the greatest social problem of pre- famine Ireland.

It is difficult for us today to conceive of a society plagued by human misery and suffering. The grim conditions of the 1700s and 1800s - lack of sanitation, overcrowding, and poverty culminated to present an enormous problem for the Church. In order to try to alleviate some of the distress, the Vestry was responsible for levying tithes and allocating this revenue to the poor. Some considerable pressure must have been placed on the Church at this time by strolling beggars, consequently on the 4th April 1774, we read:

     "The inhabitants of said Parish have come to the resolution of giving badges to their own poor and do give this publick notice that after the 1 st day of May next, they will give no charity to strolling beggars."

     The practice of 'badgeing' the poor, obviously did not resolve the problem in this Parish. Ten years later the problem of strolling beggars still remained unresolved. It is interesting to note too, that by 1784, the minutes refer to them somewhat less politely than formerly. They are now the 'bane of industry' having become 'the pests' of Parish life. The tone of the following extract is hardly charitable or conciliatory - and indicates something of the frustration and futility which the Vestry must have experienced in struggling to cope with its poor.

     ,. At a very numerous meeting of the Inhabitants of the parish of Maralin in a Vestry duly called and held at the Church on Monday, 31 st May, 1784, it was then resolved that we will to the utmost of our abilities make some provision for the relief of our own poor and that we may be able to do this more effectually, we shall from the 10th of June, 1784, shut our doors against all idle vagrants who are the bane of the industry, the pests of every Parish where they arc suffered to beg and the disgrace of the kingdom.


     "To prevent such vagabonds from passing as Parishioners, a Card will be given to such of our own poor as are obliged to go from house to house within the limits of our own Parish for a subsistence, which card will be signed by the Minister of the Parish for a subsistence, mentioning the persons name and age, also the Townland .of their residence, which card will be signed by the minister of the Parish and sealed with a Cypher B: I:. "We will cheerfully contribute to the necessities of those who produce such a card but will not give the smallest relief to any other. We will also particularly mark all those inhabitants who shall lodge or entertain such idle strollers and shall withdraw from those who entertain them any assistance they may wish to receive themselves from our Bounty and as we will not sign any begging petition for our own Parishioners to ramble about with, so neither will we pay any attention to any such that are brought to us from other parishes. "Signed by order of the Vestry:"





     "PLAN OF THE CARD:— The bearer: A: B: aged about 60 years is an Inhabitant of the Parish of Maralin, lives in the Townland of                                                                                                                                                                      and therefore recommended to the charity of the Parishioners."

     Whilst to-day we might find the register and tone of these minutes rather uncharitable, we must interpret them in the context of the time. Evidently a Parish which handed out charity to all and sundry was soon saturated with vagrants from all over the countryside. Such benevolence would have attracted enormous numbers to the village. At this time, many churches were forced to adopt similar practices and it was common to issue badges or certificates to beggars. Such identification obviously entitled the bearer to receive sup-port within the Parish. The village knew much poverty during the 18th century — to what extent this was alleviated by allowances from the Vestry is not known. We can only guess at the terrible misery and suffering endured at the time. The reality which lay behind the following extracts was surely stark:

     30th March, 1730 — It is agreed that forty shillings should be levy'd and raised off the Inhabitants of the Parish for maintaining the children of Thomas Millon, being Orphans.

     11th April, 1748 — It is agreed that fifty shillings should be levy'd and raised on the said Inhabitants for an apprentice fee with William McAteer, a poor orphan.

     "It is agreed that fifty shillings should be levy'd and raised off the said Inhabitants and paid to a poor orphan.

     "It is agreed that twenty shillings should be levy'd and raised off the said Inhabitants and paid to Widow Ritchy for maintaining a poor orphan.

     "It is agreed that forty shillings should be levy'd and raised off the Inhabitants and paid to K. Lavery for maintaining a poor orphan.

     "It is agreed that one pound two shillings and nine pence should belevy'd and raised off the said Inhabitants to help to maintain two children of Robert Macoun.

     "It is agreed that forty shillings should be levy'd and raised off the said Inhabitants for maintaining a poor child of Henry Magoo late of Ballymcbreenan.

     "It is also agreed that forty shillings should be levy'd and raised off the said Inhabitants and paid to Widow Bell of Ballymcmean to help to maintain five small children.

     "It is agreed that thirty shillings should be levy'd and raised off the said Inhabitants and paid to Cornelius Lavery for maintaining a poor child."

     It is evident from these extracts that those who suffered most from poverty were children. Obviously they were most vulnerable to the debilitating conditions which surrounded them and the high infant mortality figures, as evidenced in the burial registers, of the 1700's and 1800s emphasise this.

Children were often the concern of the Vestry, as this extract indicates:

     "8th September, 1796 — It is agreed that the two children of Charles Martin of Maralin who is sent to the County Gaol, having no friends to keep them and being helpless, we agree that the sum of two shillings and eight pence half penny be given to some woman or other, weekly, to help to support said children so long as the Parishioners shall find conscience."

     One hopes that the conscience of the Parishioners was not short-lived on this occasion and that the benevolence and charity extended to the children continued for some time.

     The struggle against poverty in the church seemed to be a protracted one. Since the earliest minutes, we have reference to the appalling social conditions of the time. These were still being catalogued in the latter half of the 19th century and doubtless this weighed heavily on the ministers of the church and their Vestry. A pathetic but not unusual entry is included in the accounts of July 1776.

To bury a poor woman 1s 1d

 To bury a poor man 1s 1d

Orphans were allotted.







  The Vestry meeting of June 1834 was convened for the special purpose of assessing the inhabitants "for the maintenance of deserted children and providing coffins for the poor."

  The standard of morality in the Parish during the 19th century must have been low and the Churchwardens reported many instances of abandoned and deserted children. In the absence of Workhouses or Orphan Societies, the Vestry minutes indicate the frequency with which heartless parents abandoned their children to the benevolence of individuals, to be maintained at the expense of the Parish.

  One of these unfortunate waifs was the subject of a special meeting in January, 1836.

  "At a Court of Vestry legally convened and held in the Parish Church of Maralin on the 14th day of January, 1836, the minister and undersigned parishioners being present, enquiry was made agreeably to the purpose of summoning said Vestry, regarding a foundling female infant deserted at the door of James of Donnygreagh, farmer. Said James declared that on the morning of Tuesday the 5th day of January. Instant about 2 o'clock a.m. Robert, son of said James, came to his father's room and said he heard the cry of an infant at the door. Said James then rose from his bed and went to the house of William and brought him to his house where said child was left in a basket, which said James had left at a straw stack over-night. That they brought the child in the basket into said James' house and then went in different directions to try to discover the person or persons who had exposed said infant, but in vain. Said James expresses his willingness and that of the different members of his family to declare on oath his and their ignorance of the mother of said infant or person guilty of exposing it — that said child is now at nurse with Jane of the parishShankhill. It was therefore resolved by said Vestry that said child shall be continued at nurse with said Jane upon the same terms that the other foundlings left on this Parish are, and that rewards for the discovery of the said persons implicated in the exposure of said infant be immediately published."

  Immediately after this entry, we read again in the minute book, the following report: "It appears by the report of Edward of Ballymacateer that a male infant was found at his house in Ballymacateer on the night of Tuesday the 8th March Inst. Said child was laid in a small basket of a peculiar form and was dressed in a frock, flannel petticoat and had three caps on its head — His Edward's X mark".

  Such entries are common in the Vestry Minute Book. Turning to the Baptismal Register, we learn that the above foundlings were Christened, Elizabeth and William.






  1836 — January 10th — Elizabeth, a foundling found exposed at James Donnygreagh.

  1836 — March 13th — William, a foundling exposed in Ballymacateer

  There are numerous references in the Parish records to the finding of and providing for foundlings. By 1849 the problem of deserted children was still far from resolved. On Friday, 3rd August, the Vestry was called together for the purpose of appointing "two or more discreet persons as sidesmen in the Parish to look after and provide maintenance for deserted children." On this occasion James Martin of Taughraine and Thomas Corbitt of Magheralin was appointed to act in that capacity.

  Other measures were adopted too and where possible, parents who deserted their children were prosecuted. In 1810 we learn:— "It is agreed at said Vestry that all persons who have imposed on said Parish by leaving children as a burden to said Parish that they will prosecute for the future, ac-cording to law".

  Whenever the heartless parents could be found, prosecution did take place as evidenced in the minutes of February 1812.

  "The Parishioners there present have unanimously agreed to prosecute William of the Townland of Gartross for the support of two children left chargeable on the Parish. The Church Warden is hereby authorised to take the proper steps for carrying this resolution into effect".

  That Churchwardens and members of the Vestry played multiple roles is evident in the various appointments from Overseers of the highways to Tax Collectors. An entry date 4th June, 1835 allows us to add `Social Worker' to the long list of duties allocated to the Vestry. We are informed:

  "It is agreed that two persons be appointed in each townland to report to the Minister and Churchwardens any persons that may fall under their suspicion as likely to place children upon the Parish".






In every respect the experience of life in the 18th and 19th centuries is remote from ours and this is particularly evident in health matters. It is perhaps only by a great effort of the imagination that we can try to understand the problems facing a community who have no proper sanitation or board of health. The work of the Vestry also extended to health matters in the parish.

It was during Rev. Henry Murphy’s incumbency that the thatched roof of the old Rectory was removed and a third story added. This third floor served as a type of hospital for a time. It appears that medicines had always been procured at the Rectory and this practice continued, even as late as the 20 century, when Mrs. Clarendon issued parishioners with cough bottles and medicines for their ailments.

In an age of poor hygiene and much poverty, disease and fever were rampant, with epidemics sweeping across the country.




In earlier times responsibility for the care of the sick often rested with the Religious Orders. Monastic infirmaries were numerous during the middle ages and there is every possibility that one existed in Magheralin. However the dissolution of these in 1536 left the sick totally bereft. The result was that folk medicines and charms increased. Holy Wells too, became popular, and in Magheralin St. Ronan’s well is situated behind the Temple, in the field which extends back to the old church and graveyard. Here, the sick made pilgrimages to the Holy Well and drew out water, in the belief that its healing powers would restore them to good health.

In 1838, under the Poor Law Acts, Workhouses were set up, with infirmaries as an integral part of these establishments. Here paupers were housed and fed, but the picture was one of destitution and horror. The conditions, wretched and deplorable, meant that many people became ill and died.

Statistics in 1839 indicate that 835 destitute people resided in Lurgan. The provision of the Workhouse did little to alleviate the distress of the poor or decrease their numbers. By 1848 the number of destitute and homeless increased by over 500, with a total of 1,350 inmates recorded as being in the Workhouse in Lurgan.

LurganHospital today, is the site of the original Workhouse for the Lurgan area. Conditions here were no better than those reported throughout the country. One report indicates that “horrible conditions” prevailed here.

It seems too, that these were exacerbated by the fact that the dead were buried”not four yards away” from the fever hospital. The hospital drew its water from a well sunk in the middle of the burial ground. Not only the patients, but the doctors and staff, took ill with typhus and died.




Diseases of Typhus and Cholera were rampant during the 19th century. Responsibility for monitoring such epidemics fell to the Vestry in the early 18th and 19th centuries. On the appearance of disease, (or rumour of such),

the Parish appointed officers of health to investigate the situation and report back to the Vestry. This is evidenced in 1832 when the disease Cholera Morbus threatened the Province. We read from the minutes, the following accounts:- “5th April, 1832 - At a court of Vestry duly convened and held in the Parish Church of Maralin on Thursday, the fifth day of April, 1832.

The principal Inhabitants being present and held pursuant to Act of Parliament. It was unanimously agreed that whereas a most destructive disease termed Cholera Morbus has made its appearance in Ireland it is expedient that Officers of Health be appointed in this Parish both for the purpose of precautionary measures, and should such visitation unfortunately reach us, to take the promptest measures for its removal. The following gentlemen are therefore unanimously appointed to act as officers of health for this village and parish, Matthew Stothard, Coslett Waddell, Henry Bell, W. Mercer, DanielMonro.”

Despite the prompt action taken by the Vestry to monitor the spread of disease and to make emergency provisions in the event of its appearance in the village - it was necessary to convene yet another meeting. This took the form of a ‘Public Meeting’. It appears that it was initiated by the Vestry, in August, 1832 - and members of the Roman Catholic Church were also in attendance. The result of the meeting was that the Lord Lieutenant was petitioned for authority to establish a new Board of Health. “It was unanimously agreed by this meeting that in consequence of the alarming state of contagious disease in the neighbouring Parishes and its appearance in some cases in this, a Board of Health should he established and application made to the Lord Lieutenant for his sanction of the same and that the following persons do constitute the said Board:- Charles Douglass, Rev. Boughey, W. Dolling, Rev. W. White, Rev. P. Devlin, MatthewStothard, John Richardson, W. Henry Bell, W. John Monro, H. Mercer, Thos. Dronette, Robert Beattie, Rev. W. Milligan, W. John McCleen.

“It was also unanimously agreed that W. John McCleen be requested to attend to any case to which he may he summoned by a written request from a member of the Board. Which document produced shall be considered as his authority for attending said patient on the part of the Board. And that the sum of three shillings and six pence shall be paid him for each case which he shall be so called on to treat and to which he shall give attendance - and that the Rev. W. White be appointed Treasurer to receive subscriptions and purchase medicines till the answer of the Lord Lieutenant be received - and that members of the Board shall meet in this place on each Wednesday at twelve o’clock while disease continues to prevail as now”.





To what extent the efforts of the above Board of Health were successful is a matter of conjecture. Despite the sophisticated provisions of Government services and Health Departments today, disease of epidemic proportions would prove a considerable burden and threat to the community. For a church Vestry in the 1830’s facing such suffering and hardship, attempts to relieve destitution must have been a formidable task. An interesting postscript to this particular event in our history is afforded by the burial register. Records of burials have been meticulously kept in the parish from 1692 until the present day. In 1840 - when the Public Record Office received these registers, the entries for the latter half of 1831, and all of 1832 were missing. It is difficult to assess the reasons for this - and perhaps the inference to be drawn is that the information had been deleted by someone unhappy about an entry.

In some cases, especially those of fever, or disease, the cause of death is reported in the burial register. If this has been the pattern in 1831 and 1832, it is possible that a relative, conscious of the stigma attached to death by cholera may have gained access to the register and illicitly removed the page. This however, is only conjecture and without documentary evidence the picture of this event in Parish history remains incomplete.




In the years after 1832 - economic and social problems continued to multiply in Ireland. These were exacerbated by the failure of the potato crop in Ireland in the mid 1840’s which led to one of the most cataclysmic events

in Irish history. During this period a disease attacked the potato crop and repeated failure of the crop in 1847 and again in 1848 caused acute distress throughout the country.

The chief victims of the famine were the labourer and cottier classes; also those, who through poor housing, poor hygiene and deficient diet, were most vulnerable to disease and fever caused by famine. Equally at risk too, were the small-farmer class many of whom were in name only ‘tenants-atwill’ cultivating small areas of land.

In five years the population in Ireland fell by over two million. While it is difficult to measure the full impact of the potato famine in this community, the burial register suggests that we certainly didn’t fail to escape the misery and poverty of those years.

No area of the country escaped the misery and suffering of those years. We learn that “The people died on the roads and they died in the fields. They died on the mountains and they died in the glens. They died at the relief works and they died in their houses. Little streets or villages were left almost without an inhabitant. Some few, despairing of help in the country crawled into the town· and died at the doors of residents and outside the Union walls. Some were buried underground and some were left unburied on the mountains where they died, there being no one able to bury them.”

A particularly poignant reminder of the distressing conditions which prevailed in our parish during the Potato Famine is evinced by the following rather perfunctory record in the Burial Register. It simply reads: “May 11th, 1849 - A stranger found dead at Montgomery’s Lime Kilns”.














Despite the evidence presented of disease and fever in the parish during the first half of the 19th century it would appear that the standard of living improved somewhat during the latter half of the century. It is reported then that people were generally healthy and hardy. A very interesting account of the people may be gleaned from the following article printed in ‘The Lurgan Parochial Magazine’ in 1882. The information is taken from one of the Belfast Papers and discusses the number of Centenarians in the Parish of Magheralin at this time:-

,. Although centenarians are rarely to be found nowadays yet in Lurgan and the neighbouring districts there are no less than four of them. One of them is a woman in the Workhouse of Lurgan. “In the townland of Ballymacateer, adjoining Lurgan, there is an old man named Jack Dowie, 104. He was for the greater part of his life a surface man, and until the past two years was working on the road, and he still earns his bread by winding for two looms. In the same townland lives William Magill whose age is close upon 94. In the adjoining townland of Ballymagin there is an old woman named Ruth Lackey aged 104; a man named William McCoy, 102 years of age; and a man Joseph Caston over 90. There are also in these three townlands a large number of men and women between 80 and 90.”



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