St Andrews, co. Down

Description

ANDREW'S (ST.), a parish, in the barony of ARDES, county of DOWN, and province of ULSTER, comprising the post-town of Kirkcubbin, and containing, with the parishes of Ballywalter or Whitechurch, Ballyhalbert, and Innishargy, 7618 inhabitants. This parish, together with those which are now united with it, formed part of the possessions of a Benedictine monastery founded as a cell to the abbey of St. Mary, at Lonley, in Normandy, by John de Courcey, who died in 1210; and though designated, in the charter of foundation, the abbey of St. Andrew de Stokes, is more generally known by the appellation of the Black Abbey, It was seized into the king's hands as an alien priory in 1395, and was granted to the Archbishop of Armagh, who annexed it to his see; and after the dissolution it fell into the hands of the O'Neils. On the rebellion of O'Neil it escheated to the crown, and was granted to Sir James Hamilton, who assigned it to Sir Hugh Montgomery, Lord of the Ardes; but in 1639 it was finally awarded to the Archbishop of Armagh. The parishes of Ballywalter or Whitechurch, Ballyhalbert, and Innishargy are all included under the general name of St. Andrew's, and comprise, according to the Ordnance survey, 12,907 statute acres, of which 4012 are in St. Andrew's (including Ballyhalbert) and its islands. The land is fertile and in a high state of cultivation; but the fences are in bad condition, and in many places the system of draining is very inefficient. A large quantity of bog has been lately reclaimed by the Rev. Hugh Montgomery, which is now under cultivation and produces good crops. There are several gentlemen's seats, of which the principal are Spring Vale, the residence of G. Matthews, Esq.; Echlinville, of J. Echlin, Esq, ; Glastry, of F. Savage, Esq.; and the Reddens, of J. Blackiston, Esq., all handsome and spacious mansions ornamented with thriving plantations. The post-town of Kirkcubbin is situated on the shore of Strangford Lough, on the west, and is separately described; and off the coast, on the east, are two islets, called respectively Green Island and Bur or Burrial, the former connected with the shore by a strand which is dry at low water; and the latter is remarkable as being the most eastern point of land in Ireland. There are some yawls and fishing smacks belonging to these islands; and about a mile to the north of Green Island is John's port, a small harbour for fishing boats, sheltered by a rock, called the Plough. On this coast is also a creek called Cloughy bay, having a bottom of clean sand; it has several fishing boats and wherries, and a coast-guard station has been established there, which is one of the twelve forming the district of Donaghadee, At the commencement of the last century, the churches of these parishes were in ruins ; and, in the 2nd of Anne, an act was obtained for uniting the parishes and erecting a church in the centre of the union, The living is denominated the vicarage ef St. Andrew's, or the union of Ballywalter, in the diocese of Down, and in the patronage of the Lord-Primate: the tithes amount to £1200, of which, £8OO is payable to the Primate, as rector, and £400 to the vicar. The church, a spacious structure, was erected in the year 1704. The glebehouse, a handsome residence close to the town of Kirkcubhin, and about. 2ΒΌ miles from the church, was built about 50 years since, and has been greatly improved by the Rev. F. Lascelles, the present incumbent, at an expense of nearly £400: the glebe comprises about 30 acres, valued at £77. 18. per annum. In the R. C. divisions this union forms part of the district of Upper Ardes, also called Portaferry. There are three places of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster, situated respectively at Ballywalter, Kirkcubbin, and Glastry, all of the second class; one at Ballyhamlin in connection with the Remonstrant Synod, and one for Independents. There are six schools, two of which are supported by Lord Dufferin and J. Echlin, Esq., respectively, and two are infants' schools, supported by Miss Keown. In these schools are about 550 children of both sexes; and there are also four private schools, in which are about 100 boys and 80 girls. The sum of £50 per ann., payable out of the estate of Ballyatwood, was bequeathed by the Countess of Clanbrassil for clothing the poor on that estate, At Cloughy are the extensive ruins of a commandery of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, founded in 1189, by Hugh de Lacie, and called Castlebuoy; not far from which are the ruins of Slane church. Kirkstown castle, a heavy pile of building, erected in the reign of Jas. I., is in tolerable repair, and the tower in excellent preservation.-See KIRKCUBBIN.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, by Samuel Lewis, 1st edition published 1837.