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Connor, Antrim

Historical Description

CONNOR, a parish, and the head of a diocese, in the barony of LOWER ANTRIM, county of ANTRIM, and province of ULSTER, 4 miles (S. S. E.) from Ballymena; containing 8682 inhabitants, of which number, 289 are in the village. A religious establishment was founded here at an early period, of which little beyond the names of some of its abbots is now known. It was made the head of the diocese of Connor, and the first bishop was Ængus Macnisius, commonly called St. Macnise, who died soon after the commencement of the sixth century: he is said to have been a disciple of St. Olcan, who was one of St. Patrick's pupils. Connor appears anciently to have been called Dailnaraigh, from its cathedral being in the territory of Dalaradia. In 1124, Malachy O'Morgair was consecrated bishop. At this time, according to St. Bernard, the inhabitants of the diocese were very uncivilised; but by a few years' residence among them, St. Malachy wrought as great a change in their morals as was effected by St. Patrick in the fifth century. By the solicitations of John, Bishop of Connor, Pope Eugene IV. was prevailed upon, in 1442, to unite the bishopricks of Down and Connor, the former being then vacant by the deprivation of John Cely. This union had been approved by letters patent of Hen. IV., in 1438, when the bishops of the two sees were desirous that the survivor should have both; but when it was effected the union was strongly opposed by John Prene, Archbishop of Armagh, who wished the pope to appoint William Bassett, a Benedictine monk, to the bishoprick of Down. The union has, however, continued without interruption since that period, and the subsequent history of the diocese of Connor is included in that of Down and Connor. By the Church Temporalities Act (3rd of Wm. IV.) the see of Dromore is to be united with Down and Connor, on the death or translation of either of the bishops; and the title of the united sees is to be the Bishoprick of Down, Connor, and Dromore.

The diocese is one of the ten which constitute the ecclesiastical province of Armagh: it comprehends parts of the counties of Down and Londonderry, and the greater part of that of Antrim, containing an estimated superficies of 395,500 acres of which 3700 are in Down, 9400 in Londonderry, and 382,400 in Antrim. The cathedral establishment appears to have been refounded by patents of the 7th of Jas. I. (1610), which ordained that the church should be called the church of St. Saviour, Connor, and that the chapter should consist of a dean, archdeacon, chancellor, precentor, and treasurer, and the four prebendaries of Connor, Cairn-Castle, Rasharkin, and Kilroot. There are no canons or vicars choral, and neither the dignitaries nor prebendaries have any ecclesiastical duties to perform in respect of their offices. Chas. II., by letters patent in 1663, constituted the church of Lisburn the cathedral for the united dioceses, both the old cathedrals being then in ruins; but, in 1790, an act was passed for the restoration of Down cathedral at Downpatrick. Lisburn church, however, is still used as the cathedral for the bishoprick of Connor: there is no economy fund connected with it, but the building is in a good and sound state, and has hitherto been kept in repair by the parishioners. The extent of see lands is 6411 profitable acres, and the gross yearly income of the bishoprick, on an average of three years ending Dec. 31st, 1831, amounted to £3065. 3. 4¾ The consistorial court is the same as for that of Down, and is held at Lisburn, where the records of the united dioceses are preserved. The diocesan school, which was originally established at Carrickfergus, was removed to Ballymena in 1829, when a consolidation was made of part of the diocese of Armagh and the whole of that of Connor, under the act of the 3rd of Geo. IV.; and an acre of land was given by William Adair, Esq., on which the school-house was erected, in 1830, at an expense of £900. The master, who is allowed to receive boarders, is nominated alternately by the Archbishop of Armagh and the Bishop of Down and Connor: the emoluments, which are small, are contributed by the bishops and beneficed clergy of both dioceses. The number of parishes in the diocese is 72, exclusively of 6 without cure of souls; they are included in 41 benefices, of which, 2 are in the patronage of the Crown, 1 In that of the Lord-Primate, 21 in that of the Bishop, and 15 in lay patronage; the remainder are perpetual or district curacies, in the gift of the respective incumbents of benefices out of which they were formed. The number of churches is 57, besides eight other places of worship, and of glebe-houses, 30.

In the R.C. divisions this diocese is united as in the Established Church, forming the bishoprick of Down and Connor, in which are 21 parochial unions or districts, containing 45 chapels served by 31 clergymen, 21 of whom are parish priests, and 10 coadjutors or curates. The cathedral is an elegant edifice in the town of Belfast, and is used as one of the parochial chapels. Belfast is also the residence of the R.C. Bishop.

The village consists of about 50 houses, and contains a dispensary. Fairs are held on Feb. 1st, May 2nd, Aug. 2nd, and Oct. 28th. The parish, which is situated on the river Glenwherry, comprises, with Kells, according to the Ordnance Survey, 17,135¾ statute acres, about one third of which is arable, one-half pasture, and one-sixth bog. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Connor, united, with part of the rectory, by charter of the 7th of Jas. I., to the rectories of Killagan and Killyglen, and the vicarage of Solar, which constitute the union and corps of the prebend of Connor in the cathedral of St. Saviour, at Lisburn, in the patronage of the Bishop; the remainder of the rectory is impropriate in Viscount Ferrard. The tithes of the parish amount to £151, of which £86 is payable to the impropriator, and £65 to the vicar; and the gross tithes of the benefice amount to £279. 12. The glebe-house was built by a gift of £400 and a loan of £400, in 1820, from the late Board of First Fruits; the glebe comprises 40 acres, valued at £40 per annum. The church was erected by aid of a gift, in 1815, from the same Board. In the R.C. divisions this parish is united with those of Drummaul and Antrim, forming the union or district of Drummaul; there is a chapel in each. There are two places of worship for Prestyterians, the largest of which is in counection with the Synod of Ulster, and of the first class. There are national schools at Tannybrack, in which are 41 boys and 14 girls, and at Tamnaghmore, of 80 boys and 54 girls; two schools, in which are about 200 children, are partly maintained by Lord Ferrard, who subscribes £15. 15. annually; and there are several private pay schools, and some Sunday schools. In the vicinity is an artificial mount with outworks.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1840 by Samuel Lewis

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Land and Property

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