PARISH OF ST. PETER'S, CLONALLON
by Fr. Andrew McMahon
St. Peter's Church, Warrenpoint, was
solemnly dedicated on 15th. August 1841. Mass had previously
been celebrated at a small shed in Charlotte Street. The
Parochial House adjoining St. Peter's was opened in 1926.
The parish currently known as St. Peter's, Clonallon
came into being in January 1984. It comprises the townlands of
Ballymaconaghy, Clonallon, Dromore, Narrow Water and Ringmacilroy. The
latter contains the town of Warrenpoint in which resides the vast
majority of the people of the parish. St Peter's is merely a portion of
the former parish of Clonallon which was subdivided on 25th. January
1984 to enable the emergence of independent parishes centred around
Burren and Mayobridge. These became respectively known as St. Mary's,
Clonallon, and St. Patrick's, Clonallon. Prior to this parochial
reorganisation, Warrenpoint had effectively been the focal point and
centre of administration for the extensive parish covering twenty-eight
townlands and some 11,658 acres.
The rural communities surrounding Mayobridge and
Burren had, however, long established their own specific identities.
Burren had, in fact, possessed its own church since 1833, eight years
before St. Peter's Church was opened in Warrenpoint. St Patrick's Church
in Mayobridge, which replaced an even earlier church, was dedicated in
1862. Distance from Warrenpoint necessitated a priest residing
permanently in Mayobridge from as early as 1859, while another of the
curates of Clonallon Parish had been housed at Burren since 1927. With
both districts self- sufficient in terms of primary education and both
especially strong in sporting and cultural activities, it was widely
expected that they would eventually become independent entities. The
diocesan decree providing for this, in 1984, saw the demise of the old
Clonallon Parish and the ending of, perhaps, a formal unity which had
long-since become quite meaningless for many parishioners.
As a parish, nevertheless, Clonallon had always
occupied an eminent place in the changing circumstances of the Dromore
Diocese. Since the re-emergence of the Irish Catholic Church from Penal
restrictions, in the middle of the eighteenth century, Clonallon was
among the Dromore Diocese's most populous parishes - acquiring the
status of `Mensal' or Bishop's parish since the pastorate of Bishop
Anthony Garvey, (1729-1766). Clonallon's origins are, however,
associated with the early Christian period in Ireland and, in
particular, the sixth century figures of Saints Conall and Dalian.
Conan is identified with the building of the first
church in Clonallon a century after the mission in Ireland of St.
Patrick. He is believed to have been a native of east Ulster and to have
been born early in the sixth century. It is said that he succeeded St.
Carbreus as Abbot and Bishop of Coleraine about the year 570. The
Annals of the Four Masters refer to him as "Conall, son of Aedh, of
Cluain, near Snamh Each in Ui-Eachach, of Ulaidh," translating roughly:
Conall, son of Aedh, of the Meadow, near the swimming place of the
horses in Iveagh, in Ulster. The `swimming place' referred to has been
generally identified to be the harbour known centuries later as
Warrenpoint. Of noble lineage, Aedh was a descendant of Caolbha, the
123rd. Monarch of Ireland. The Magennis clan of Iveagh, significant in
medieval and early modern Ulster history, also trace their ancestry to
Caolbha. Conall probably established, in his earlier years, a monastic
settlement at Clonallon - typical of the early Irish Church. He died
around the year 590 and his feast day is listed in the Martyrology of
Donegal as 2nd. April.
Clonallan, however, receives its name not from the
mission of St. Conall but from his successor, St. Dalian. Clonallon
translates as `Cluain Dallain': Dallan's meadow.
Dalian was a contemporary of the great early Irish
missionary, St. Columcille. He was a poet and scholar of great
significance and contributed much to the literature and learning of his
day. Dalian is credited with composing a panegyric to Columcille
recalling the saint's return to Ireland for the `Convention of Drumcreat'
in 574. He also devised, it is claimed, a funeral oration for St. Senan
of Inniscattery (in present day County Clare) and also arranged the
panygeric of St. Connell Cael of Inniskeel (County Donegal).
Dalian is believed to have been born in the district
of the Masraighe which was located in the present County Cavan. He was a
descendant of Colla Usiah, the 121st. King of Ireland. His original name
was said to be Eochaidh or, in latin, Euchodius. From his mother,
Forchella, he derived a second name: Forgaill. The name by which history
remembers him most distinctly, Dalian, was added during his lifetime. He
became blind, perhaps due to intense study, at some point during his
life - scholars appear to disagree on whether this was at an early or a
late stage. From the Irish for `blind': dall, he acquired the title
Dalian or `blind one.' According to the Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae,
published by John Colgan in 1645, there existed "a parish church called
Cluain Dallain in the eastern part of Ulster, known as Iveagh." Dr.
Ceitinn in his History of the Kings of Ireland confirms that this
Christian foundation derived its name from St. Dalian.
According to tradition, Dalian met with a cruel
death. He was a guest at the island abbey of Inniskeel when it was
attacked by pirates, possibly pagan Norsemen. Dalian was murdered and
beheaded. His head, which had been cast into the sea, was later
recovered and his remains were buried, around the year 598, under the
church walls of Inniskeel. The funeral oration was given by Senchan
Torpeist who succeeded him as `Chief Poet' of Ireland. Dalian is listed
in the Martyrology of Tallaght as "Dalian mac Forgaill
O Magin" and his feast day is January 29th. Dalian obviously gave his
name to whatever ancient church existed in this district. It was likely
to have been located on or near the site of the present Clonallon Church
of Ireland Parish Church. The immediate locality around Clonallon Parish
Church was also known at some time in the past as `Ballynecleragh',
apparently `town of the clergy'. The ancient church of Clonallon was
possibly destroyed in Viking plundering which took place throughout the
ninth and tenth centuries. Viking raiders had established a base for
themselves at the head of Carlingford Lough from about the year 840. A
medieval church would have been constructed on the site of this earlier
foundation and it would have been incorporated into the parish and
diocesan structures which replaced the older monastic system in the
middle ages. It is believed that remnants of this medieval building have
been incorporated into the post- Reformation church which is to be found
at Clonallon today. Most notable in this regard is the arch and entrance
way, in very thick stone, beneath the church belfry which belong to, at
least, the Norman era. The ecclesiastical reforms of the 12th. century
had required, among many things, all church building to be undertaken in
stone. The church of 'Clondalan' features in records of the Papal
Taxation of 1306 and is valued at four marks.
Existing records enable us to trace at least sonic of
the clergy who guided the church of Clonallon through the Middle Ages.
From the information we have it is obvious that Clonallon was connected,
from an early stage, with the Chapter of the diocesan Cathedral at
Dromore. In other words, those being appointed as pastors of Clonallon
would also have been Canons of the Cathedral. We hear of Patrick
Okeallaych (O'Kelly), a Canon of Dromore Cathedral, resigning the
prebendary (or canonry) of Clonallon into the hands of the Archbishop of
Armagh in 1423. His successor as Rector and Canon was Peter Maguryn (McGivern)
who was appointed by Pope Martin V on 23rd. November 1423. Reference is
made in the bull of his appointment to the Abbot of Newry's role in
Canon Maguryn's induction.
A relationship between the Cistercian Abbey of Newry
and the pastoral care of Clonallon Parish is further suggested in an
entry in the Register of Primate John Swayne in 1435. On the 5th.
October of that year the granting of lands to Canon Maguryn is noted
with certain conditions. As well as Clonallon and Aghavilly the lands of
Ryan and Templegowran are also mentioned. These latter two fell outside
of what we would consider to be the area traditionally corresponding to
Clonallon Parish, but were lands which were associated with the Newry
Records show a Patrick MacDonegan who was
Vicar of Clonallon dying in 1437. John Oronoga (O'Rooney),
described as `Chaplain', succeeded him on 2nd. September that same year.
A John MacDonegan, according to the Register of Prene, was
serving as Vicar of Clonallon in 1460. On 24th. April 1500 Gelasius
Magennis, the Cistercian Abbot of Newry who was also Bishop of
Dromore, was granted the prebendary of Clonallon. This appointment was
likely arranged to supplement his episcopal income. Bishop Magennis
departed Dromore for England in 1505 where he later lived at Coventry.
Karulus Caan (Charles Kane) received the prebendary of Clonallon on
28th. June 1526. He died in 1534 and was succeeded by Hugo O Shegyll
(Hugh O Sheil) who was appointed by Archbishop Cromer on 15th. October
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries brought a
period of painful upheaval in the Irish Church, as they did throughout
the religious life of Europe. The Protestant Reformation had
far-reaching implications in Ireland where the Catholic majority found
themselves progressively deprived of their religious freedoms and places
of worship. Mass Rocks or Mass Stations are a feature of the Penal era
which followed and they were effectively used for public worship until
church buildings began to reappear in Ireland from the second half of
the eighteenth century.
A number of Mass sites are recorded in Clonallon
Parish from this period. Those we know of were well inland, depending
upon the seclusion of the countryside and the support of a strong
Catholic population locally. The best known is probably Lisnahoney,
located in what is now Burren Parish, where Mass continued to be said,
according to local testimonies, into the early nineteenth century. The
old church at Clonallon became the property of the Established
(Anglican) Church. Owing to the unsettled state of the country during
the Plantation and the Cromwellian eras, it apparently fell into a
ruinous state. It may well have been a particular target during the 1641
rising when members of the local Magennis clan joined other dispossessed
native Irish in a campaign of insurgence. On the other hand, Clonallon
may have suffered at the hands of Scottish forces under General Munroe
who wreaked havoc in the wider area in 1642. Whatever the causes, an
inquisition of 1657 stated of the Clonallon church: "It hath
walles and timber, but without dores and windows." As early as 1607, the
names of Protestant clergy begin to appear in association with Clonallon
Parish. William Webb is appointed to the prebendary in that year. Two
years later he receives title of Chancellor. Edward Ffloyd appears to be
the first curate appointed under the new order in 1634.
POST-REFORMATION CATHOLIC CLERGY
Records of this era are understandably obscure, and
it is quite a long time before we can trace again any kind of succession
of Catholic clergy ministering in Clonallon Parish. We have reference to
a Cormac Oge O Sheill, a priest living near present-day Rostrevor
in 1625, who was believed to have been serving the Clonallon area at
In October 1691 we have the name of Rev. Manus
O'Fegan who was among several diocesan priests being outlawed by a
Williamite court sitting in Banbridge. On 11th. July 1704 he was
registered at the Downpatrick Assizes as "Pretended Popish Priest of
Clonallon." At this time he was aged 52 and was residing at Tamnaharry.
He would likely have been a frequent celebrant of Mass at the Lisnahoney
Mass Station in that neighbourhood. The date of Fr. O'Fegan's death is
unknown but his remains are believed to rest in the old Drumgath
Cemetery, in his native parish.
A Fr. Patrick Rooney is believed to have
ministered in Clonallon after the time of Fr. O'Fegan. He is said to
have resided at Carrickmacstay and enjoyed the protection there of the
kindly landlord, Thomas Morris Jones, popularly remembered as `Bumper
Jones.' Fr. Rooney lived at a time when there was real and recurring
danger from 'priest hunters' in the area. He is believed to have been
arrested at Mayobridge, around the year 1718, but managed to escape and
took temporary refuge with a Mac Conville family living at Barnmeen.
The next known pastor of Clonallon was a native of
the parish. Rev. Anthony Garvey was born in Aughnagun and
received a university education in Paris. He was probably ministering in
Clonallon from the mid-1720s and had become Vicar General of the
diocese. His elder brother Patrick presented him with a chalice in 1729
which bore the inscription: "The gift of Patrick Garvey to the Rev. Dr.
Anthony Garvey, Rector of Clonallon and Vicar General of the Diocese of
Dromore. May 20, 1729." On 1st. September 1747, Anthony Garvey was
appointed Bishop of Dromore by the Holy See with the support of the
clergy of the diocese. By this time, Catholics were beginning to
experience a small measure of religious freedom which would continue to
grow throughout the second half of the eighteenth century.
Bishop Garvey lived on in Aughnagun during his years
as bishop and he is considered responsible for the constitution of
Clonallon and neighbouring Newry as the 'Mensal' or episcopal parishes
of the Dromore Diocese. St. Peter's, Clonallon, and Newry remain the
mensal parishes of the diocese today - the Bishop being their Parish
Priest, with an 'Administrator,' appointed on his behalf, being
responsible for the day-to-day pastoral life of the parish. Although
some early Mass Houses were beginning to appear in Ireland by this time,
such as the one in St. Mary's cemetery in Newry, the parish of Clonallon
continued to rely on the open air Mass Stations for public worship.
Bishop Garvey's name appeared among a list of
subscribers to an Irish translation of the late medieval spiritual
classic The Imitation of Christ made around the year 1762 by a
Franciscan living in east Down. In April 1759 he was 'Senior Assistant'
at the consecration in Drogheda of new bishops for the dioceses of
Raphoe and Ossory. Bishop Garvey died on 24th. August 1766 and was
interred in a vault which he had arranged for his family in St. Mary's
Cemetery in Newry.
Two priests are mentioned in his will of 22nd. August
1766: "Priest Ryan" and "Priest McKea". The former is believed to have
been Fr. John Ryan who was also named as a witness to the same
will. It is suggested that he was acting as the `Administrator' of
Clonallon at the time of Bishop O'Garvey's death and probably continued
in this role until a new appointment was made to the parish in 1772.
A Fr. Patrick Rooney, said to have been a nephew of the Fr. Rooney
mentioned above, is believed to have assisted in Clonallon and
neighbouring Clonduff Parish during these years. It has been claimed
that he died at a house in Hilltown sometime in the third quarter of the
century and that he was buried within the ruins of the old church at
Rev. Bernard Polin was appointed Adm. (Administrator)
of Clonallon in 1772. A native of Castle Street in Newry, Fr. Polin was
responsible for the erection of a small Mass House at Mayobridge in
1806. This was the first building for Catholic worship to exist in the
parish since the Reformation. The Mass House followed a T-shape and was
built of rough, undressed stone. The cost was apparently �1,000, which
was met by public subscription. According to the Newry Telegraph,
an unfortunate incident occurred at the Mass House on Sunday 3rd. April
1825 when a beam supporting a gallery collapsed during Mass killing an
elderly woman and injuring several members of the congregation. Fr.
Polin resided, throughout his years in the parish, in the Mayobridge
area and it is said that he usually preached to his people in Irish. He
died on 18th. December 1826, after fifty-four years service in
Clonallon. Fr. Polin was 84 years of age at the time of his death and
was buried in his family's plot in St. Mary's Cemetery, Newry.
During the closing decades of the eighteenth century
there was much sectarian strife throughout rural Ulster, with the rise
of secret societies. Tensions sometimes erupted into violent incidents,
as occurred from time to time, in various parts of Clonallon Parish. Fr.
Polin was greatly credited with helping to promote a spirit of tolerance
and harmony in often difficult circumstances. A letter-writer to the
Newry Telegraph of 25th. February, 1827 remarks how during his
pastorate, Fr. Polin "brought this once divided and disorderly part of
the country to a state of civilisation and good order" and also
described how he "distinguished himself in many instances as a 0person
of generous and public spirit."
During his final years in Clonallon it seems that Fr.
Bernard Polin was assisted by the Rev. Peter Polin - perhaps a
relative. The latter Fr. Polin was listed among those who were entitled
to take part in the election for a new Bishop of Dromore to succeed
Bishop O'Kelly in January 1826. He was listed as `Vicar, Clonallon'
which seems to suggest he was effectively administering the parish on
behalf of his elder namesake. This Fr. Peter Polin was appointed Parish
Priest of Magheradroll in 1826.
At this point, on the death of Fr. Bernard Polin,
Fr. Michael John MacCartan was appointed Adm. of Clonallon on 22nd.
December 1826. His pastorate was relatively brief, however, and in March
1829 he was transferred to Dromara as Parish Priest.
The next Administrator of Clonallon was Rev. Peter
Murphy who was appointed on 22nd. March 1829 - the year of Catholic
Emancipation. A native of Mullaghmore, Hilltown, Fr. Murphy had studied
in Maynooth and was ordained in 1820, in Newry. He had served in the
Cathedral Parish as curate and later as Administrator and had been
prominently involved in the project of the building of the Cathedral
over those years. Shortly after arriving in Clonallon, he oversaw the
erection of a church at Burren on a portion of land granted for a
`peppercorn' rent by the Hall family of Narrow Water.
Most Reverend Henry O'Neill was
appointed Bishop of Dromore in 1901. Since 1886 he
had been Adm. of Clonallon. He introduced the
Sisters of Mercy to Warrenpoint, in 1887.
The Hall family also gave a donation of �50 towards
its construction. The present St. Mary's Church, Burren, was dedicated
by Bishop Michael Blake on Sunday 8th. September 1833. The sermon on the
occasion was preached by Rev. Michael Carragher, Parish Priest of Lower
Creggan in Co. Armagh. The adjoining cemetery was blessed by Dr. Blake
the following day. Up to this point, local Catholics had continued to
use the old cemetery at Clonallon which had been maintained by the
Church of Ireland since the Reformation.
Fr. Murphy was appointed Vicar Forane in 1835 and
later acquired the post of 'Master of Conferences' within the Dromore
Diocese. He undertook the erection of the present St. Peter's Church in
Warrenpoint shortly after the opening of the church at Burren. This was
initially completed in 1841. Fr. Murphy was also involved in the
erection of a National School at Carrick, in the Burren area. In his
later years he was popularly known as Dr. Murphy. He died at the age of
54, on 23rd. July 1845, and was interred in the new cemetery at Burren.
Fr. Robert Denvir C.C. was in temporary charge
of Clonallon Parish following Fr. Murphy's death. A native of Newry, Fr.
Denvir had been ordained by Bishop Blake in 1840 and shortly afterwards
appointed as curate to Warrenpoint. Fr. John Brennan was actually
appointed Administrator of Clonallon on 18th. June 1846 but was delayed
in taking up the position due to his pastoral responsibilities in Newry.
Fr. Denvir continued to take charge of the parish in the meantime. He
was prosecuted at Warrenpoint Petty Sessions in July 1846 for
officiating at a `mixed marriage' and returned for trial to the Down
Assizes. The case was dropped, however, by the Crown in due course. Fr.
Denvir was appointed to Lurgan, as a curate, in November 1847 when Fr.
John Brennan eventually arrived in Warrenpoint.
Fr. Brennan was a native of County Kildare. He had
studied at Maynooth and had been ordained by Dr. Murray, Archbishop of
Dublin, in May 1837. Fr. Brennan had been a curate in Clonallon from
1837 until 1841 and was then transferred to Newry. He had been the
Administrator in Newry since October 1844 and did much for famine relief
in the town over those years. Fr. Brennan was also associated
prominently with the campaign for the `Repeal of the Union.' He worked
hard for the relief of the poor of Warrenpoint during his pastorate and
also continued his political affiliations. The leading Young Irelander,
William Smith O'Brien, visited Fr. Brennan in Warrenpoint on his release
from prison in 1854.
Fr. Brennan was responsible for the erection of a new
church at Mayobridge. This work was begun to replace the older Mass
House in use there since 1806. The new church was built, close to the
site of the older building, between 1859 and 1862. Fr. Brennan travelled
to England, at this time, to help raise money for the building project.
During his years as Administrator he also undertook
campaigns within the parish to help reduce the debt which had earlier
been incurred through the completion of St Peter's Church in Warrenpoint
and the parish National Schools. Fr. Brennan died in hospital in Dublin
on 17th. December 1868, at the relatively young age of 50 years. He was
buried at Burren.
Rev. Eugene McMullan was appointed Adm. on
12th. January 1869. A native of Upper Drumgooland, Fr. McMullan received
his early education at the academy of a Mr. Johnson near Castlewellan.
He entered Maynooth in 1844 and was ordained by Bishop Blake in Newry in
July 1850. He served subsequently as curate in Clonduff. He was
responsible, during his time in Clonallon, for the addition of the bell
tower to St. Peter's Church, Warrenpoint, in 1874. He also drew up plans
and saw to the erection of a curate's residence close to the church at
Mayobridge. Fr. McMullan died on 23rd. July 1886 and was buried at
Mayobridge. A stained-glass window in memory of Fr. McMullan was later
installed, in the southern transept of St. Peter's Church, by the
parishioners of Clonallon.
Rev. Henry O'Neill was appointed to succeed Fr.
McMullan in July 1886. At the request of Bishop Leahy, however, he
continued his duties as President at Violet Hill College until 1890, the
year of the bishop's death. During these years Rev. Hugh O'Reilly
administered Clonallon, along with his fellow curate, Fr. Cornelius
Fr. O'Neill introduced the Sisters of Mercy to
Warrenpoint in 1887. In 1901, he was appointed Bishop of Dromore,
following the death of Bishop McGivern. Dr. O'Neill led a major phase in
the development and enlarging of Newry Cathedral during his years as
Bishop. He died on 9th. October 1915.
EARLY CURATES OF CLONALLON
Rev. Patrick Grant,
Rev. Felix Fegan,
Rev. Michael O'Loughlin,
Rev. Fr. Quinn,
Rev. John MacHugh,
Rev. Thomas Rooney,
Rev. Peter Daly, (on loan from Armagh)
Rev. John Mackin,
Rev. James Daly, (on loan from Armagh)
Rev. John Brennan,
Rev. Robert Denvir,
Rev. Daniel Mooney,
Rev. Patrick Phelan, ,(on loan from Down and
Rev. William Ronan, (entered the Society of
Jesus in 1850).
Rev. Bernard Hughes,
Rev. Francis Blake,
Rev. Arthur Finnegan,
Rev. John O'Reilly,
Rev. John O'Gorman,
Rev. Charles Kenny,
Rev. Hugh Murphy,
WARRENPOINT AND ST. PETER'S CHURCH.
St. Peter's Church had the sanctuary enlarged and
side altars added, 1930-31. This photograph shows the
interior of the church in the years after the Second
Vatican Council and before the major renovations of
The granting of Catholic Emancipation in 1829 heralded a period of
significant growth in the outward expression of Catholic Ireland. A
hidden church began to emerge from the mists of Penal life and one
visible expression of this was the erection of church buildings in the
first half of the nineteenth century. We are aware of the construction
of a Mass House at Mayobridge in 1806 and of the opening, later, of a
more substantial church at Burren in 1833. Warrenpoint was the last of
the three main pastoral areas of Clonallon Parish to have a permanent
church built to serve its needs.
This is not surprising and follows a pattern evident
in many Ulster parishes of the time. Rural areas with a significant
local Catholic population were quicker to construct their Mass Houses
than towns with a mixed religious population where officialdom usually
held greater sway. At Burren and Mayobridge, outdoor Mass Stations had
long provided a focal point for common worship in less tolerant times
and these paved the way for church building at the earliest
practical opportunity. Moreover, Warrenpoint as an
entity in itself was still of a relatively young age in the early 1800s
and would have been slower in developing communal identity and
Built originally within the townland of Ringmacilroy,
which translates `Macllroy's Point,' Warrenpoint occupied a place of
strategic importance where Carlingford Lough reached the entrance to
Clanrye River and had significance as a harbour from carliest times.
While there remains a division of opinion as to how the `Point' became
Warrenpoint, it is likely that this later name reflects the association
between the locality and a Waring family prominent in the area from at
least the beginning of the eighteenth century. A Mr. C.J. Robb, in
correspondence on this subject to the Belfast News Letter in May
1938, refers to a letter apparently written in 1708 by a William Waring
who gave his place of writing as "Waring's Point, near Newry." Walter
Harris, in his Ancient and Present State of County Down, includes
a map of 1743 which shows the harbour with the title "Waring's Point."
By 1786 William Wilson, in his Post Chaise Companion, calls it
"Warren's Point." The following year Gordon's Newry Chronicle
gives the name as "Warren Point." By the time of the Ordnance Survey
of 1835 the name "Warrenpoint" is being used.
Warrenpoint developed quite rapidly in the early
years of the nineteenth century. Prior to this it had been a small
fishing village with a few homes. Samuel Lewis, in his Topographical
Dictionary of Ireland (1837), claimed that in 1780 it had merely two
homes "with a few huts for the occasional residence of the fishermen
during the oyster season." He continues to describe how: "In the
succeeding fifty years....its scenic beauty and coastal location seem to
have instigated its rapid development."
Pigot's Directory of 1824 tells its readers that
"This place and its immediate neighbourhood contain a large number of
comfortable lodging houses for the accommodation of visitors, hot and
cold baths and an excellent inn. Its vicinity also abounds with the most
delightful scenery. On passing through the town towards the shore, the
prospect becomes extremely beautiful and grand; the bay of Carlingford
expanding to the view and forming a noble basin where a thousand ships
may ride in perfect safety, is bounded on the right and left by lofty
mountains..... The quay is very convenient and capable of receiving
vessels of large burden....In the vicinity of the town there is a neat
row of houses, called Seaview, extremely well adapted for the
accommodation of bathers, the prospect from which is very fine....There
are five annual fairs, viz. the 17th. of January, the 4th. of May, the
24th. of June, the 2nd. of September and the 29th. of November."
This extract indicates the two great pillars of
Warrenpoint's economic development in the nineteenth century - its
attraction as a seaside resort and its growth as a shipping-port. Two
initiatives especially helped its progress. Firstly, the Hall family of
Narrow Water took a major interest in planning the layout of Warrenpoint
as it grew and in encouraging improvements in its appearance and
investment within it. Roger Hall, for example, gave notice in the Newry
Telegraph of 3rd. April 1813 of his intention to grant leases in
perpetuity to anyone "inclined to build permanent stone and lime and
slated houses." As well as those who responded to growth in tourism by
providing inns and guesthouses, wealthier merchants from nearby Newry
and elsewhere helped Warrenpoint's expansion in often choosing it as a
location for a seaside home.
The business generated by the docks at Warrenpoint
and the prosperity brought by tourism were both enhanced significantly
by the advent of the railway which linked Warrenpoint, through Newry, to
a large hinterland from 1849. Prosperity was, however, not the whole
story as wealth is never evenly shared. The Warrenpoint docks bade
farewell to many emigrants from the Clonallon and wider South Down area
who did not share in the rising fortunes enjoyed by some throughout the
nineteenth century. The years of the `Great Famine' (1845-49) and its
aftermath were particularly harsh in this regard.
According to official census returns, the population
of Warrenpoint in 1834 numbered 1,927. Of these, 877 were Catholic.
Catholics were therefore just under half the population of the town,
while in the rural areas of Clonallon Parish they more than
doubled the Protestant population in numbers by this
time. In light of this it was, perhaps, understandable that Warrenpoint
waited longer than either Mayobridge or Burren for the provision of a
Mass had been regularly celebrated in the town, from
at least 1830, in a small shed in `Courtenay's Yard' on Charlotte
Street. The shed had been acquired on a lease some years earlier, but
access to it had created difficulties for worshippers. This was resolved
by the cooperation of Mr. Roger Hall who granted the parish a small
portion of ground adjacent to the shed, allowing them direct access from
the street. Fr. Peter Murphy, who had become Administrator in March
1829, had made the request of Hall. He wrote to the Newry
Examiner of 17th. November 1830 to express his appreciation of Hall's
generosity in this regard and, also, for his previous granting of the
site for the new church at Burren. Regarding the entrance to the
Charlotte Street Mass shed, Fr. Murphy wrote: "The application has been
made and Mr. Hall has fully answered our fondest expectations. He has
thrown down the wall of separation that stood between us and our
tenement and for the nominal consideration of five shillings has granted
us the piece of ground by which we were excluded."
Following the completion and dedication of the church
at Burren, in September 1833, Fr. Murphy began the project of building
what was to become St. Peter's Church, Warrenpoint. He acquired the site
on which the church is built at Great George's Street from a Protestant
man named Halliday. Fr. Murphy engaged as architect the renowned Thomas
J. Duff who had been responsible for the designing of the Cathedral and
St. Mary's Church of Ireland Church in Newry as well as several other
notable buildings in Ulster. The corner-stone of the new church was
blessed by Bishop Michael Blake and set in place on 29th. July 1834.
Although work progressed initially, the building project was slow in
reaching completion because of a lack of funds - a difficulty several
Dromore parishes experienced in church-building in the 1830s and 40s.
The new church was built to a Gothic design from
stone, faced with cut granite. It measured, in its main dimensions,
eighty by thirty feet and followed a cruciform shape. Incorporated into
the original building, roughly behind the sanctuary area, was
residential accommodation for priests. The church was projected to cost
about �2,500, though this figure may well have been exceeded in
practice. St. Peter's was sufficiently complete to be dedicated and
opened on 15th. August 1841. The ceremony was performed by'
Bishop Blake and the preacher for this special occasion was the
celebrated Franciscan and advocate of temperance Fr. Theobald Mathew.
Several members of the local Protestant community were present at the
ceremony and were thanked for their generous support in the building of
the new church. Fr. Murphy thanked them with these words, reported in
The Nation newspaper: "May I be permitted in the name of religion to
return to you my most grateful thanks, not only for your liberal support
and many services on the present occasion, but also for your former
assistance and cooperation in the same meritorious object....I hope that
you, gentlemen of the Press, will let it go forth to the world that were
it not for the support I received from my dissenting brethren this house
could not have been built. When I went to solicit their assistance I did
not meet a refusal and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for
their kindness. It has made an impression on my mind which I shall never
Large crowds gathered in Warrenpoint on the day of
the dedication, with the Newry Telegraph reporting estimates of twenty
thousand. The presence and preaching of Fr. Mathew, who was at the
height of his crusade at that time, was believed to be the appeal.
According to press accounts of the day, he was busy administering the
temperance pledge to people in The Square from early morning. After
preaching at the dedication ceremony he continued his ministry in the
town until about 7.30 that evening. He was to remain in Warrenpoint a
further day and left behind him sums of money raised from the sale of
temperance medals and from donations he had received. At his request,
�40 was given towards the new church, �I0 for the sick and poor of the
parish, �5 to the Total Abstinence Society, �5 to the Temperance Band
and �10 to other charities.
Fr. John Brennan Adm. undertook some minor works
which were necessary to complete the original St. Peter's following the
death of Fr. Murphy in July 1845. In 1853 he had the interior of the
church entirely redecorated. Fr. Eugene McMullan had the very impressive
tower added to the church in 1874 and purchased a bell to occupy it.
Shortly before the death of Canon Felix MacGennis in
October 1924, work had begun to construct a new house for the priests
resident in the Warrenpoint part of Clonallon Parish. A new house was to
be built on a site which had been acquired alongside St. Peter's Church
in Great George's Street. The foundation stone for the new house had
been blessed by Bishop Mulhern on 20th. August 1924. One of the
Clonallon curates, responsible for the Mayobridge area, had lived at
Mayobridge since 1859, the year work began on building the present
Mayobridge Church. A new Parochial House had followed, at Mayobridge, in
1885. By the mid 1920s, Warrenpoint was home to the Administrator and
three curates. Two of these were occupied with the pastoral care of the
people of Warrenpoint town and the third gave priority to the Burren
district. The existing priests' accommodation in Warrenpoint, built to
the rear of St. Peter's Church when that church was first constructed
(I834-4I), was proving increasingly inadequate. The impressive new
Parochial House was completed in I926. Fr. Daniel McAlister, who had
already been a curate in the parish several years, had been appointed
Adm. in succession to Canon MacGennis in October 1924. As the work had
been progressing on the new house in Warrenpoint he had initiated a
project to provide a third Parochial House for the parish, at Burren,
with a view to permanently locating there one of the three priests
resident in Warrenpoint. Work began there early in I926, with the
foundation stone for the new house being laid on 23rd. February. The
building was completed the following year and Fr. Henry Doran occupied
the new two-storey dwelling, located on an elevated site behind Burren
Church, in the summer of 1927. These years obviously saw considerable
development in the facilities of Clonallon Parish. In addition to the
new Parochial Houses, an extensive renovation of St. Peter's Church was
planned. It is worth noting, too, that a new building to house the boys'
and girls' schools at Mayobridge was undertaken during 1926 and I927,
while St. Peter's Boys' School in Warrenpoint was extended in 1928.
Given the need to raise funds for these projects, a Grand Bazaar was
held in Warrenpoint in mid-August of I926. The bazaar was opened by the
Irish Primate, Cardinal O'Donnell, on 10th. August 1926. On this
occasion the Cardinal was formally welcomed by Bishop Mulhern and
further addresses of welcome were presented to him on behalf of the
priests and people of the Clonallon Parish, the members of the
Warrenpoint Urban Council and the `Heart of Erin' Branch of the Irish
The reorganisation of the priests' accommodation and
the completion of the new Parochial Houses allowed the area of the
former priests' residence, at the rear of St. Peter's Church, to be
incorporated into the main church building. This was the central part of
a project of enlargement and renovation of St. Peter's which took place
during the years 1930-31 and which especially enhanced the sanctuary
Two new side chapels were erected, one dedicated to
the Sacred Heart and the other to Our Lady. They each contained altars
of Italian marble and statues by the stonemasons of Vannucci and Favilla
of Tuscany. The new side chapels complemented the newly extended
sanctuary which acquired a new altar and ornamentation of the same
character. Extensive mosaic work was undertaken throughout the area of
the main sanctuary and the side chapels, giving them something of a
continental appearance. This, along with the rich stained-glass included
in the sanctuary enhancement of these years, enabled St. Peter's to
become one of the grandest and most colourful churches in the Dromore
The new side altars were consecrated by Bishop
Mulhern on Thursday 9th. October 1930, during the renovation project.
The new high altar and the entire church were solemnly consecrated, when
all work was complete, on Thursday 10th. September 1931. Bishop Mulhern
performed the solemn consecration in the presence of a large
congregation and many clergy. Solemn High Mass was then celebrated at
the new high altar by Rev. Dr. Michael O'Hare, curate in Mayobridge at
The following Sunday, 13th. September 1931, a day of
celebration was held in Warrenpoint to mark the solemn consecration of
the newly extended church. According to the records of the time, the
streets of Warrenpoint were decorated with bunting and papal flags,
especially in the area close to St. Peter's. Solemn Pontifical Mass was
celebrated at 12noon by Most Rev. Dr. McNeely, Bishop of Raphoe.
Cardinal MacRory, Archbishop of Armagh, was present at the Mass and gave
Solemn Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament afterwards. Among those
present were two bishops of the African Missions' Society, Most Rev. Dr.
Broderick and Most Rev. Dr. O'Rourke. In the congregation were Senator
T.J. Campbell, Belfast and local M.P.s P. O'Neill, J. Connellon and J.H.
Collins. The boys' choir of Newry Cathedral led the music for the Mass,
conducted by Fr. James Burke. The special preacher for the occasion was
a Dublin-based Jesuit priest, Very Rev. J. Hannon. who appealed for
support for the work that had been carried out and spoke on the theme of
`The Church's Mission'. A collection afterwards amounted to almost
�2,000, including contributions from collections already taken up in
Burren and Mayobridge.
TOWARDS A SECOND CHURCH
Minor upgrading and works of renovation were
undertaken as necessary over the following decades at St. Peter's, as
the church continued for half a century more to cater for the population
of a growing town. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the overall Catholic
population of Clonallon was constantly rising. The relatively small
commercial centre of Warrenpoint was surrounded by suburbs which were
gradually expanding and which, to this day, have continued to do so. The
new Warrenpoint docks, meanwhile, were opened in 1973. As was remarked
at the beginning of this chapter, it was expected by the early 1980s
that the very extensive parish of Clonallon might be subdivided sometime
in the near future. This occurred in January 1984 and, since
then,Warrenpoint has effectively constituted the parish of St. Peter's,
The Church of Mary, Queen of Peace was begun on
3rd. August 1987. It was opened by Bishop Brooks on
16th. October 1988.
The advent of the new parish created a natural
opportunity for reflecting upon pastoral provision within the town. It
was widely believed at this time that a second public church was
desirable for Warrenpoint to relieve the demands being made, especially
for Sunday Masses, upon St. Peter's. This aspiration was taken a
significant step closer to realisation with the purchase by the parish
of a large house, formerly the rectory attached to Warrenpoint Church of
Ireland Parish, and the significant grounds accompanying it, in November
1986. In this extensive site, on the Clonallon Road, great development
potential existed. The property was bordered on one side by a former
sports centre which had become a facility for the new parish a year
previously. The 'Tir na nOg' centre was adapted for use as a Parish
Centre and reopened for this purpose on Monday 6th. January 1986. Bishop
Brooks blessed the building at the opening ceremony and expressed the
hope that "the opening of the new centre would foster a feeling of
community spirit among the people," and that it would cater especially
for the young "by promoting pastimes, sporting activities and cultural
presentations." There also existed close by, to another side, the St.
Peter's Boys Primary School, located at Mourne Drive since 1969.
The first use for the old rectory was as temporary
accommodation for the curates of Warrenpoint while the Parochial House
at Great George's Street was renovated from January to June of 1987.
Following this, it became the residence of the then Administrator, Canon
Edward Hamill. Meanwhile, Canon Hamill had begun a process towards the
construction of a new church alongside the rectory. Messrs. McClean and
Forte, Belfast, were appointed architects and plans were drawn up for a
thoroughly modern church of a surround style which would accommodate
around 800 of a congregation. With plans accepted and permission
granted, the work of building the new church, to be dedicated to Mary,
Queen of Peace, began on Monday 3rd. August 1987. The building
contractors were Messrs. Felix O'Hare & Co., Newry and the quantity
surveyors Messrs.W.H. McEvoy. The cost of the project was approximately
The foundation stone of the church was blessed by
Bishop Brooks on the afternoon of Sunday 7th. February 1988. Several
months later, on Sunday 16th. October 1988, the new church was opened
and solemnly dedicated. Dr. Brooks was the principal celebrant at the
ceremony and the homily was delivered by Most Rev. John Eusebius
Crawford, O.P., a native of Warrenpoint and Bishop of Gigo in the
Dr. Crawford gave an account of the history of
Clonallon Parish. The clergy serving in Warrenpoint - Archdeacon Hamill,
Fr. Jarlath Cushenan and Fr. J.J. Cunningham - were joined by a large
number of priests, including several who had formerly ministered in the
area. The local Church of Ireland Rector, Canon Carson, was also
The new church has a spacious sanctuary with a
granite altar, ambo, presider's chair and tabernacle plinth. During the
dedication of the altar, relics were placed within it of Saints
Simplicius, Salvatus, Oliver Plunkett, Paul of the Cross, Aloysius
Gonzaga and Catherine of Siena. Stained-glass windows portraying aspects
of the Eucharist border the sanctuary to either side while, to the rear
of the church, there are splendid stained-glass depictions of the
Coronation of Our Lady and Mary, Queen of Peace. Remaining windows
celebrate references to Divine peace from the New Testament - at the
birth of Christ, during the 'calming of the storm' and in the address of
Jesus to his disciples following the Last Supper. Alcoves, at the four
corner points of the church, house shrines honouring Our Lady, the
Sacred Heart, St. Joseph and St. Anthony. The church enjoys an elevated
site, convenient to the town centre and the grounds surrounding it have
been pleasantly landscaped.
With the Mary, Queen of Peace Church now complete and
in use, the opportunity was taken to pursue some renovations and repairs
to St. Peter's Church as it approached its 150th. anniversary. This work
was planned and executed in the course of 1990 and 1991, with Messrs.
McClean and Forte the architects and Messrs. Felix O'Hare & Co., the
building contractors. The traditional altar railings were removed at
this time and a new altar, tabernacle plinth and presider's chair were
constructed in marble, complementing the existing ambo and other
sanctuary furnishings. The church was completely redecorated, new
carpeting was laid and the heating and lighting systems were upgraded.
The Stations of the Cross were re-mounted, each with a mahogany base and
new inscription. In order to enhance access to the church for
worshippers, a new entrance porch was erected to the southern side of
the nave while, to the rear of the sanctuary, the sacristy area was
considerably extended and comfortable meeting rooms provided in what had
been the church crypt.
The church was reopened and the new altar was
solemnly dedicated at a ceremony on Sunday 25th. August I991. Bishop
Brooks performed the ceremony, assisted by Bishop Crawford and the
priests of the parish - Archdeacon Hamill, Fr. Cushenan and Fr Gerry
Powell. The special preacher for the occasion was the Very Rev. Francis
Boyle, President of St. Colman's College, Newry, who had grown up in
Warrenpoint. During the ceremony of dedication, relics of St. Oliver
Plunkett and St. Leonard were placed in the new altar. This occasion
also served to celebrate the I50th. anniversary of St. Peter's Church
and a stone tablet recognising this milestone was placed above the main
entrance to the church.
TWENTIETH CENTURY PASTORS
Rev. Daniel Mallon was appointed Adm. in
succession to Dr. O'Neill in September 1902, taking up his duties the
following January after the new bishop had moved to Newry. A native of
the parish of Drumgath, Fr. Mallon studied at Maynooth and had been
ordained in Newry Cathedral by Bishop Leahy in August I867. He had
served as curate in Aghaderg (1867-68), Seapatrick (1868), Kilbroney
(1868-72), Newry (1872-84) and as Parish Priest of Dromara (1885-1902).
During his time in Warrenpoint Fr. Mallon was responsible of the
establishment of the local conference of the Society of St. Vincent de
Paul. He moved to Rostrevor, as Parish Priest, in February 1907.
On 16th. February 1907, Fr. Felix MacGennis
became Adm. of Clonallon. He was a native of Upper Drumgooland, educated
at Maynooth and ordained in the Poor Clare Convent in Newry by Bishop
Leahy in 1876. Fr. MacGennis worked in the Down and Connor Diocese for
ten years, following which he became a curate in Newry in 1886. He was
Parish Priest of Donaghmore from 1901. Fr. MacGennis was one of those
appointed to the new Cathedral Chapter when it was reconstituted in
1918. While in Warrenpoint, Canon MacGennis was responsible for the
building of a new boys' school in 1913. He died on 7th. October 1924 and
was buried in Burren.
Fr. Daniel McAlister succeeded Canon MacGennis
in October 1924. A native of Dromara, he had been educated at the Irish
College, Salamanca, and ordained by Bishop McGivern in Newry on 8th.
September 1887. He ministered in Glasgow for four years and served in
Lurgan as curate from 1891-1905. Fr. McAlister was subsequently curate
until his appointment as Adm. Extensive development
in the physical facilities of the parish took place during his years as
Administrator. These included the extension of St. Peter's Church, the
renovation of St. Mary's Burren, the building of the Parochial Houses in
Warrenpoint and Burren, the extension of St. Peter's Boys' School, and
the construction of new schools in both Mayobridge and Burren. He became
a member of the Cathedral Chapter in 1927 and was appointed Archdeacon
in I937. Archdeacon McAlister died in Warrenpoint on 24th. June 1949 and
was buried in Burren.
Canon James Fitzpatrick became Adm. on 9th. July
1949. A native of Clonduff, he was educated at Maynooth and ordained in
Newry Cathedral by Bishop O'Neill on 8th. February 1903. Fr. Fitzpatrick
was a curate in Newry for the next twenty years and became Adm., there
in September 1923. During his years as Administrator in Newry he was
involved in the ceremonies surrounding the solemn consecration of the
Cathedral, in 1925. Fr. Fitzpatrick was Parish Priest of Drumgath from
1932-49, also becoming a member of the Cathedral Chapter in 1932. In
1950 he was appointed Archdeacon. Not long after coming to Warrenpoint
Archdeacon Fitzpatrick was responsible for the purchasing of land in the
townland of Dromore, on the edge of the town. This land was, in due
course, converted into use as a cemetery for the Warrenpoint part of
Clonallon Parish. The new cemetery was solemnly consecrated on the
morning of Wednesday 2nd. July 1952 by Bishop O'Doherty, assisted by the
Archdeacon. Following the consecration, a Mass was celebrated in the
cemetery that day by Warrenpoint curate, Fr. Alex McMullan. Archdeacon
Fitzpatrick became Dean of the Cathedral Chapter in 1955 and was
appointed a Domestic Prelate by the Pope on 12th. November 1957. Dean
Fitzpatrick died on 25th. February 1961 and was buried in Burren.
The Venerable Archdeacon Daniel McAlister
was Administrator of Clonallon Parish from 1924 until 1949.
Significant enhancement of the physical facilities of the
parish occurred during these years.
Fr. Hugh Esler became Adm. of Clonallon on 1st.
October 1961. A native of Ballynahinch, he was educated at Maynooth and
ordained by the Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin, Dr. Wall, in June 1933. Fr.
Esler had served as curate in Warrenpoint, temporarily, during 1933-35.
He also ministered in Derrymacash, Ballynahinch, Saval and Newry, where
he had become the Cathedral Administrator in February 1950. His early
years in Clonallon were times when there was much development in
education generally, especially in the post-primary sector. Fr. Esler
oversaw the construction and the development for many years of the new
St. Mark's Secondary School in Warrenpoint and, also, the new St.
Peter's Boys' Primary School at Mourne Drive. He was appointed a member
of the Cathedral Chapter in 1972 and became Archdeacon in July 1980.
During the year of his Golden Jubilee a priest, Archdeacon Esler was
received by Pope John Paul in the Vatican, in October 1983. He died on
17th. November 1983 and was buried in Warrenpoint.
Canon Edward Hamill was the first Administrator
of the newly constituted parish of St. Peter's, Clonallon when he was
appointed to Warrenpoint on 26th. January 1984. A native of Magheralin,
he was educated at St. Colman's College, Newry, and Dromantine College,
and ordained by Bishop O'Doherty in 1947. Fr Hamill served in the
Lancaster Diocese from 1947 until 1949. at which time he was appointed
to Warrenpoint. He moved to Newry, as curate, in 1955 and became
Cathedral Administrator in 1970. He became a member of the Cathedral
Chapter in January 1972 and was appointed Parish Priest of Clonduff in
October 1981. On his return to Warrenpoint, as Administrator, Canon
Hamill oversaw the construction of the Mary, Queen of Peace Church, the
opening of the Parish Centre, the renovation and refurbishment of St.
Peter's Church, the extension of St. Mark's High School and the planning
of the new St. Dallan's Primary School. He was appointed Archdeacon in
January 1988 and became Dean of the Cathedral Chapter in October 1994.
Dean Hamill retired as Administrator in September 1998 but he continued
to serve St. Peter's, Clonallon, as Assistant Pastor. He died on 23rd.
November 2000 and was buried in Warrenpoint.
Canon John Kearney became Adm. on 27th. September
1998. A native of Cullyhanna, Co. Armagh, Fr. Kearney was educated at
St. Colman's College, Newry and St. Kieran's College, Kilkenny and
ordained by Bishop O' Doherty on June 1968. He served on the staff of
St. Colman's College (1968-70), as curate in Magheralin (1970-75),
curate in Saval (1976-83) and curate in Newry (1983-1992). From 1970
until 1983 Fr. Kearney also served as Ecclesiastical Inspector of
Schools. He became Cathedral Administrator, in Newry, in September 1992
and was appointed a member of the Cathedral Chapter in October 1994.
Since his appointment to Warrenpoint, Canon Kearney has seen the
building of St. DaIlan's Primary School and the process of primary
school amalgamation completed.
LATER CURATES OF CLONALLON
Resident in Warrenpoint
|Rev. Bernard MacAleenan,
|Rev. John Gribbin,
|Rev. Cornelius Woods,
|Rev. Hugh O'Reilly,
|Rev. Hugh MacEvoy,
|Rev. Daniel McAlister,
|Rev. Daniel Toman,
|Rev. William McGinn,
|Rev. William O'Doherty,
(on loan from Raphoe)
|Rev. John McParland,
|Rev. John Carr,
|Rev. James Dargan,
|Rev. Michael McConville,
|Rev. Hugh Esler,
||1933-34 & 1934-35
|Rev. Edward Smyth,
|Rev. Joseph O'Hagan,
(chaplain to Mercy Sisters, St. Joseph's Home)
|Rev. Patrick Markey,
(chaplain to Alexian Brothers, Mt. St. Columb's)
|Rev. Edward Devlin,
(chaplain, St. Joseph's Home)
|Rev. Joseph Pettit,
|Rev. Bernard Treanor,
|Rev. John Lynch,
|Rev. Bernard Treanor,
|Rev. Edward Hamill,
|Rev. James Fitzpatrick,
(chaplain, Mt. St. Columb's)
|Rev. William Doyle,
|Rev. Matthew O'Hare,
(chaplain, St. Joseph's Home)
|Rev. Seumas Moore,
|Rev. Malachy Finegan,
|Rev. Patrick Sexton,
(chaplain, do., on loan from Killaloe)
|Rev. John McCauley,
|Rev. Patrick Sexton,
|Rev. Arthur McNeill,
|Rev. Seamus Reid,
|Rev. Thomas McConville,
|Rev. Jack Murtagh,
|Rev. John Joseph
|Rev. James Kerr,
|Rev. Jarlath Cushenan,
|Rev. Gerald Powell,
|Rev. Anthony Corr,
|Rev. Michael Maginn,
|Rev. Martin McDonagh
|Rev. Peter McNeill,
Resident at Mayobridge
|Rev. Hugh Mooney,
|Rev. Matthew Lynch,
|Rev. William Kearns,
|Rev. Andrew Lowry,
|Rev. John Savage,
|Rev. John Carr,
|Rev. Michael O'Hare,
|Rev. John Brannigan,
|Rev. Emmett Devlin,
|Rev. James McCartan,
|Rev. Thomas Mc
Conville, 1982-84 (became P.P. in 1984 of St. Patrick's,
Resident at Barren
|Rev. John Carr,
(resided at Tamnaharry Park)
|Rev. Henry Doran,
|Rev. Joseph Byrne,
|Rev. Patrick Boyd,
|Rev. Daniel Fegan,
|Rev. John Brannigan,
|Rev. Thomas Mooney,
|Rev. Hugh Connolly,
|Rev. Arthur Byrne,
|Rev. Jack Murtagh,
|Rev. James Woods,
(became P.P. in 1984 of St. Mary's, Clonallon).
CATHOLIC EDUCATION IN
As in the area of church building, the provision of
what might be described as specifically Catholic education was to emerge
in Warrenpoint later than in the rural parts of Clonallon Parish. A
report in 1824 identifies a number of `Hedge Schools' operating within
the parish at "Burren, Clontiflees, Aghagun, Croan, Mayo and
Carrickmacstay". The `Hedge Schools' were succeeded, from the 1830s
onwards, by National Schools which were intended to be established
throughout Ireland as non-denominational institutions guaranteeing a
minimum standard of elementary education for all. As the initiative in
establishing them normally lay with the local community, they came to be
effectively denominational in character with, in the case of the
Catholic community, the parish priest usually assuming responsibility
for their development and management.
These boys were pupils at St.
Peter's National School in St. Peter's Street in
1891. Their school moved to Great George's Street in
1913 and eventually to Mourne Drive, in 1970.
Ordnance Survey records tell us that in
Warrenpoint, by the mid-1830s, Catholic children were attending a
variety of small schools which had previously been established in the
town. `Narrow Water School', which had started in 1829 on the property
of the Hall family, had 8 Catholic pupils out of a total roll of 42 in
1836. 'Warrenpoint School', established around I826 and apparently
located on the road to Newry, had 81 Catholics out of a total of 192
pupils at this time. 'Warrenpoint Infant School' had been established in
East Street in 1831. It had a total of 60 pupils, all under ten years of
age, and 22 of these were Catholic in 1836. These schools were
patronised by the Hall family, while pupils attending would have been
required to pay a weekly or quarterly fee.
Under the National School system, a school for boys
and girls was established in St. Peter's Street in 1848 at the behest of
the new Administrator, Fr. John Brennan. The building apparently
contained two schoolrooms and may have been built or acquired by Fr.
Peter Murphy who had been Administrator until I845 and had been
responsible for the erection of St. Peter's Church nearby. This site,
according to Ordnance Survey, carne to accommodate separate boys'
and girls' National Schools. An important development, however, in
elementary educational arrangements came with the arrival in Warrenpoint
of the Sisters of Mercy in November 1887. The Mercy Sisters had
established themselves in Newry in 1855 and had made a further
foundation at Rostrevor in 1865. It was inevitable, perhaps, that they
would also settle, in time, in Warrenpoint. Six sisters arrived in the
town on 27th. November 1887, following a request to the Mercy Order from
the Administrator of Clonallon Parish, Fr. Henry O'Neill. They first
lived in a large house, formerly an hotel, at Havelock Place - currently
the Irish National Foresters' Club. To the rear of this property, the
Sisters established an elementary school for girls in St. Peter's
Street, in premises which are known today as the `Pantomime Hall.' This
school, known as the `Convent National School,' opened on 7th. January
1889. As happened frequently in 1rish towns where religious were
involved in elementary education, the Mercy Sisters' school eventually
came to educate boys as well in the infant classes for several years.
Catholic education for boys and girls continued, side
by side, in St. Peter's Street with the boys continuing to use the
original National Schools' premises. This building was later to become
the Technical School. A new elementary school for the boys of
Warrenpoint was built in I9I3, on a site opposite St. Peter's Church, on
Great George's Street. This school was found to be inadequate for the
rising Catholic population of Warrenpoint in the following decades and
needed to be extended in 1928. The new extension was blessed and
officially opened by Bishop Mulhern on Wednesday 5th. December 1928. The
bishop used the occasion to voice his concern regarding "the many
disadvantages against which Catholics had to contend under the present
Education Act." Through time, the same pressure for space which had
troubled the boys' school naturally became a problem for the small
Convent School in St. Peter's Street. The solution to this came through
what was affectionately known in Warrenpoint life as `The Pavilion.'
This elegantly constructed wooden edifice had been built in the grounds
of the Great Northern Hotel, just off Prince's Street, in 1906. It had
served as a popular centre of entertainment and also as a tearoom since
that time. The Great Northern Hotel had come into being after the
original and much smaller `Beach Hotel' had been bought by the Great
Northern Railway Company in 1899 and been subsequently extended and
The hotel and pavilion became the property of the
Sisters of Mercy in 1922 who purchased it that year from the Great
Northern Company, apparently for the sum of � I1,332, with a view to
starting a boarding school. An Our Lady of Lourdes Boarding School had
been run by the Mercy Sisters at Canal Street in Newry since 1919 as an
extension of the Our Lady's School which had been admitting day pupils
in Newry since 1894. The decision was taken to relocate the boarding
school. to Warrenpoint following the acquisition of the former hotel.
This happened in 1923 and so the Our Lady of Lourdes Boarding School was
to continue at Warrenpoint for the following seven years, with some
local girls attending during these years as day pupils. This development
was significant as it effectively brought the first experience of what
we might call Catholic `secondary education' to the seaside town. The
school closed in 1930 when Bishop Mulhern asked that the Sisters of
Mercy would transfer the boarding school back to the site of the
expanding Our Lady's School in Newry, where it was to continue until
`The Pavilion' became, in 1939, the new home of the
National School which the Mercy Sisters had been running St. Peter's
Street since I889. It contained four classrooms and was overseen, in
1939, by three Mercy Sisters and one lay teacher. The school thrived
there for many years and sometime during that period assumed the title
`Star of the Sea Convent School.' The Pavilion, of course, became
inadequate as the numbers of pupils swelled and eventually the school
had to resort to using, as overflow facilities, their former premises at
St. Peter's Street and a spare room in the St. Joseph's Nursing Home
which had occupied the former boarding school building since 1938.
This group of Star of the Sea Convent School
girls had just won a cup for Traditional Singing' at
the Feis, in 1937.
Expansion had continued, over these same years, for
the St. Peter's Boys' School. The boys' school had also needed to use
space at the former Convent School in St. Peter's Street, though their
situation was considerably helped by a further extension to their Great
George's Street premises in 1955 which provided three new classrooms.
The circumstances for both boys and girls were substantially transformed
at the end of the 1960s with the building of a new boys' school in a
rapidly developing part of the town. St. Peter's Primary School was
officially opened at Mourne Drive on Wednesday 17th. December 1969. Its
architects were Messrs. Smith and Fay, Newry and the builder was Mr.
James Byrne, Warrenpoint. The new school cost �61,780. Staff and pupils
moved to the new site in January 1970, leaving their former home at
Great George's Street vacant. Once redecorated, these premises were
occupied by the Star of the Sea Primary School and the education of the
girls continued both there and at the neighbouring Pavilion. In time,
new mobile classrooms were constructed around the existing school
building and the Pavilion became, at last, redundant. It is currently
unused. The old convent school premises in St. Peter's Street still
function as the Pantomime Hall, mainly providing social activities for
the parish's senior citizens.
ST. MARK'S AND ST. DALLAN'S
A major development in the educational story of
Warrenpoint also came to fruition around this time. With the
reorganisation of education and the development of what became known as
`post-primary' education, many pupils from twelve years of age upwards
were being accommodated at new `Intermediate' schools which were opening
since the I950s. Warrenpoint children who came into this category had,
for a decade, been mostly transferring to new schools in Newry. The need
for a further intermediate school in South Down was recognised and plans
were drawn up in the early I960s to site such a school in Warrenpoint.
The new St. Mark's Secondary School was eventually built on the Upper
Dromore Road and opened on Tuesday Ist. September 1970. It was designed
by Messrs. McClean and Forte, Belfast and built by Messrs. Felix O'Hare
& Co., Newry. The school was intended to draw pupils from throughout
Clonallon Parish as well as the neighbouring parish of Kilbroney and
what was termed the `Hilltown section' of Clonduff Parish. Bishop
O'Doherty celebrated Mass in the new school on Wednesday 16th.
September, blessed the building and addressed the school community,
along with priests from the surrounding areas.
St. Mark's prospered from its earliest days and
acquired the status of a `High School' in the late 1970s. With a growing
enrolment and a diversifying curriculum, the school community
recognised, by the mid-1980s, its need for a significant extension. This
was eventually conceded by government and a scheme to upgrade St.
Mark's, at a cost of �1.4 million, was announced by Brian Mawhinney, the
Northern Ireland Office minister responsible for education, when he
visited the school on Tuesday 9th. February 1988. The extension
programme, which followed this allocation of funding, was completed in
I992 and practically doubled the size of the school. Two new blocks were
added bringing enhanced facilities for teaching in several curriculum
areas, as well as a new library and sports hall. St. Mark's also
developed a special unit for the education of physically disabled
children at this time. Other works of modernisation have continued since
then. A new suite for education in Information Technology was built in
2002, while a major refurbishment of the facilities for teaching
Technology and Design is currently underway and is expected to be
completed by April 2005. In October 2003 the school opened a new unit
for the teaching of its physically disabled pupils - probably the most
modern facility of its kind available in any mainstream Northern Ireland
school. Other parts of the school campus have also been renovated to
enhance their accessibility for persons with a physical disability. St.
Mark's has a current roll of around 820 pupils and a teaching staff of
55. The school has a strong record, at both national and provincial
level, in gaelic games and is currently (2004-05) in its first year of
`A level' provision.
A major milestone in the story of Catholic primary
education in Warrenpoint was reached in September 2000 with the opening
of the new co-educational St. Dallan's Primary School. This new parish
school came into being with the amalgamation that year of the Star of
the Sea Convent Girls' and St. Peter's Boys' Primary Schools. The new
school was built on land which incorporated the site of the former boys'
school at Mourne Drive and land which had been attached to the old
rectory on its purchase in 1986. The work of constructing St. Dallan's
began in January 1999. The architects for the new school were Messrs.
McClean and Forte and the builders were Messrs. Felix O'Hare & Co. The
school, which is a combination of single and two-storey building, cost
over �2.5 million to complete. St. Dallan's was officially opened by
Bishop John McAreavey and the Minister of Education, Mr. Martin
McGuinness M.P., on 30th. May 2001. The school has a current roll of
approximately 600 pupils, with 28 teachers.
With the advent of St. Dallan's, the old school
buildings at Great George's Street were no longer required for primary
education. These were demolished in 200I and the site became the home of
a new nursery school in 2002. `Seaview Nursery School', which functions
as a cross-community facility, was built by St. Peter's Parish and is
managed by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools.
COMMUNITIES OF CARE
As was noted earlier, the Our Lady of Lourdes
Boarding School which had functioned at the Mercy Sisters' newly
acquired sea-front property since I923 was closed in 1930. The school
community transferred to Newry and this very substantial edifice found
itself redundant. The Sisters themselves, who had originally lived at
Havelock Place, lived on the boarding school premises during those years
of the school. They found a new home after 1930 in a house known as 'Mayne's'
at Seaview, while the large school building (the former hotel) lay
unused for the next eight years. While the Sisters continued to run
their National School in St. Peter's Street, they also involved
themselves in the pastoral care of the wider community. They visited
many homes in Warrenpoint and, in common with Mercy Sisters in towns
throughout Ireland, they attended to situations of need where ever they
encountered them regularly helping poorer families with food and
Pupils of the new
co-educational St. Dallan's Primary School await some
special visitors on the day when their school was officially
opened - 30th. May 2001.
St. Mark's High School has provided
co-educational secondary education for the youth of
Clonallon and surrounding areas since September 1970.
The disused boarding school building received a new
lease of life when the Sisters of Mercy decided to reopen it as a home
for aged men in 1938. After some necessary renovations the property was
reopened as `St. Joseph's Home' and was blessed by Bishop Mulhern on
Friday 24th. June, 1938. The small community of Mercy Sisters who had
been resident at Seaview returned to live at St. Joseph's. Various
extensions have been made to St. Joseph's over the decades since. A new
dining hall and additional catering facilities were built in 1952. A
further extension of bedrooms and bathrooms came in 1972. Probably the
most significant development, however, in the facilities of St. Joseph's
was the major scheme of renovation which was carried out between 1984
and 1986. This work included the installation of a new passenger lift
capable of carrying 15 persons, new heating and fire alarm systems, and
the complete refurbishment of over forty rooms. The project cost
�850,000 and while it was being carried out residents were temporarily
housed at the Good Shepherd Convent, near Newry.
The former Great Northern Hotel became 'St. Joseph's
Home for Aged Men' from 1938. In this photograph, taken
in 1950, pupils from the Star of the Sea School are
using the grounds of the Home for a P.E. lesson.
St. Joseph's was reopened, following its completion,
on Wednesday I8th. June, 1986. Bishop Brooks blessed the building during
a ceremony which was attended by residents, staff, representatives of
the Sisters of Mercy and members of the Southern Health and Social
Services Board. Since its reopening, in 1986, the Home has also
accommodated female residents. The Golden Jubilee of St. Joseph's was
celebrated in 1988. On Friday I0th. June, the Feast of the Sacred Heart,
Bishop Brooks presided at a special Jubilee Mass celebrated in St.
Joseph's by Fr. Jarlath Cushenan C.C. and other local clergy. Archdeacon
Edward Hamill delivered the homily in which he outlined the history of
the building and, in particular, the Mercy Sisters' long association
with it. A section of the St. Joseph's building which had previously
been occupied by the Mercy Sisters themselves became part of the Home's
general accommodation and the Sisters have resided, in more recent
years, in a house which they acquired at 9 Queen Street.
A further development in ministry of the Sisters of
Mercy in Warrenpoint is `Arbour House' located at 16 Great George's
Street. This facility exists to serve people with learning difficulties
and other disabilities, and their families. It is a centre for respite
care, where persons with special needs can enjoy weekend and holiday
breaks. The project was begun in 1991 and was funded by
voluntary subscription. Sr. Anna-Maria Crawford from the Convent of
Mercy in Newry established Arbour House as a `House of Hope' along with
a Core Community which included Mary Burns, Paula Jordan, Sarah Barr and
a team of volunteers.
Arbour House was officially opened on Saturday 19th.
October I991. Sr. Anna-Maria explained to those present that the project
"was a direct response to the need to be close to those most vulnerable
in society, among whom are the profoundly mentally handicapped." An
inter-denominational prayer service followed which was led by Bishop
Brooks and ministers from other local churches, including Rev. Julian
McCready (Church of Ireland), Rev. Arthur Curry (Presbyterian) and Rev.
Thompson. The Chairperson of the Management Committee of Arbour House,
Sr. Bronagh McKeown, remarked how "it was heartening that, in this
province where there is so much political and religious strife, all of
us could be united in the worthy cause of service to the handicapped."
The other Catholic religious community which played a
significant part in the life of Warrenpoint in modern times were the
Alexian Brothers. Founded by St. Alexius in I369, this Order of male
religious were dedicated to nursing the sick and infirm throughout
Europe. Their association with Warrenpoint began on 3Ist. October I925
when the Anglo-Irish Province of the Brothers bought what was previously
known as Clonallon Glebe on the edge of the town. This was a sizeable
portion of ground fronting the seashore and containing a large house and
stable. The site had formerly been the property of the Church of Ireland
and had served, for generations, as the home of the Rectors of Clonallon
Parish. The house on the site, at the time of purchase, had been built
in 1724 and contained twenty rooms. Derry-born, Brother Columcille
MacGuiness was the first member of his congregation to move into their
new acquisition. He had served for a considerable period in the German
Province of the congregation and had been a former novice master. As the
Superior of this new foundation, Br. Columcille had the house
refurbished and had it extended by more than forty rooms in the course
of the following two years. The former stable was converted for use as a
community oratory. The house was formally reopened as `Mount St.
Columb's' by Bishop Mulhern on the morning of Thursday 29th. September
I927. It was to serve as "a home for aged and retired gentlemen." Mass
was celebrated in the new oratory at 11.00a.m. by Warrenpoint curate,
Fr. John Carr. Several clergy were present and a sermon was delivered by
a Belfast-based Redemptorist, Fr. J. Deeney. The Bishop gave Solemn
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at the conclusion of the ceremony
and wished the brothers every success in their work.
As well as the development of nursing and residential
facilities at Mt. St. Columb's, Br. Columcille enhanced the grounds by
the erection of a number of statues in the years that followed. On
Sunday 10th. August 1930 a set of outdoor marble Stations of the Cross
were blessed by Bishop Mulhern. These had been the gift of a Patrick
McArdle of Belfast. The grounds of Mt. St. Columb's had their devotional
character further enriched by annual Corpus Christi processions which
Br. Columcille initiated. The first of these had been held on the Feast
of Corpus Christi, on Thursday 3rd. June I926. Bishop Mulhern carried
the Blessed Sacrament on this occasion and imparted Benediction. Very
many clergy attended and among the huge number of people who took part
in the procession were members of the Immaculate Conception Sodality
from Dublin who were on a visit to Warrenpoint at that time. This was
the first such Eucharistic procession to be held in the area and
subsequent processions at Mt. St. Columb's continued to attract very
The caring ministry of the Alexian Brothers prospered
under the direction of Br. Columcille. The Home grew in its intake of
elderly men and retired clergy and the Brothers also went out from Mt.
St. Columb's to tend to elderly men in their own homes locally. Another
feature of life with which they became identified was the preparing of
the remains of the deceased for burial around Warrenpoint. Through time,
the Alexian Brothers became a very cherished part of life in the town
and parish and Mt. St. Columb's and its prayerful grounds became well
known to visitors to Warrenpoint. Br. Columcille died on I2th. February
1955, having served his Order as a brother for 63 years. He was buried
in the new community cemetery at Mt. St. Columb's on Tuesday 14th.
A few years after Br. Columcille's death a new chapel
was begun at the Home. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop O'Doherty
on Sunday 22nd. November 1959. The Superior by this time was Br. A.
Ferri. The chapel, which was to be dedicated to St. Columcille, was
designed by architects from the firm of R. Sharpe & Son, London. The
builders were Messrs. P. Carvill & Sons, Warrenpoint. The chapel was
completed by the following summer and was blessed and formally opened by
Bishop O'Doherty on Monday 18th. July 1960. Mass was celebrated in the
new chapel by Rev. Vincent Kennedy O.C., Rector of St. Michael's
College, Omeath. Among those in attendance at the ceremonies were Rev.
Br. Cormac O'Reilly, Superior of the Anglo-Irish Province of the Alexian
Brothers, and Rev. Br. Bruno Stoppock, the German Provincial.
Unfortunately a fire occurred at Mt. St. Columb's on
2nd. March 1964. 1t badly damaged the extension which had been built
back in 1926. The remnant was demolished and a new wing, which was built
in its place, was opened in 1966. So Mt. St. Columb's continued to serve
its residents with renewed accommodation and the best of facilities. A
very special occasion in the life of the community came on Thursday
29th. November 1984 when Bishop Brooks celebrated, along with local
clergy, a Mass to mark the 650th. Anniversary of the founding of the
Alexian Brothers. The preacher on this special occasion was a
Franciscan, Fr. Flynn, who gave an account of the history of the Order.
The choir of St. Mark's High School, Warrenpoint, provided the music for
Within a few years, however, the viability of Mt. St.
Columb's continuing became an issue for the Alexian Brothers'
Anglo-Irish Province. The gradual reduction in the numbers of vocations
left them with major decisions to face about the future use of resources
and the deployment of personnel. Sadly, it became clear that the
Warrenpoint foundation would eventually be closed. The end came early in
1993 as the Home closed, officially, on 31st. January. On 21st.
February, Mass was celebrated for the last time in the community chapel
by Fr. M. Toner. The Alexian Brothers left Mt. St. Columb's after an
association with it, and with Warrenpoint, of 68 years. The buildings
were, in time, demolished to make way for an extensive new housing
development. Within this development, however, the Alexian Brothers'
cemetery is still maintained - a sacred place and a memorial to decades
of faithful service.
Although their Nursing Home closed in 1993. the peaceful
cemetery of the Alexian Brothers remains as a testimony to
their service in Warrenpoint for 68 years.