1870 TO THE PRESENT
The new Presbyterian Church
The 19th century came to a close with a meeting of
the Congregation Committee of Garvaghy Presbyterian Church in 1899 at
which a proposal to build a new Church was discussed. The result was a
decision to build one and the contract was awarded to Mr Hugh McAleenan
of Castlewellan. The cost of the building, of modified Gothic design,
was to be �765. The foundation stones were laid on 29th October 1903 and
the project was completed in less than one year. The total cost came to
�1,050. The first service was held in the Church on May 15th 1904. The
Minister at that time was the Rev David Baird.
Also within the Parish of Garvaghy is the place of
worship of the Presbyterian Congregation of Kilkinamurry. This was
founded in 1820 when a number of people met together for worship in a
tent. By 1821 the Congregation had become established and a Meeting
House was built. The first Minister was the Rev George Legate who was
ordained in 1824 and served for 50 years.
The Parish Church at the turn of the century
The minutes of the Select Vestry meetings provide a
certain amount of information about the Church. The earliest extant
records date from 1871 but for many years only the minutes of the Annual
General Easter Vestry meetings were kept.
At the first session of the General Convention of the
Church of Ireland in Dublin 1870, following disestablishment, it was
decreed that to be registered as a vestryman, and therefore eligible to
vote and hold office, one had to be male, over 21, a resident of the
parish or an owner of property in the parish and subject to Diocesan
Synods, also a subscriber to Parochial funds. In time registration was
opened up to women as well as to those who did not own property. The age
limit was also lowered to 18 years. This change in thinking has carried
on into other areas of the Church of Ireland in that women were also in
later years admitted to the Office of Reader. In more recent times the
General Synod passed legislation allowing women to be ordained as
deacon, priest and bishop.
The earliest extant Church accounts are for the year
1889-1890 The details are outlined below.
Sunday offerings �3.17.5
Burial fees �1.7.6
Fee for registering graves by Churchwardens �3.1.0
Total income �8.5.11
Church insurance �0.6.0
Coal, Oil �0.17.6
Communion Elements �0.8.6 Sexton �2.0.0
Cleaning Walks (or Walls?) �0.4.6
Assessment was �30.0.0
A new Roof and other repairs
In 1895 the Parish Church received a new roof, a
project that would have cost a good deal of money. Unfortunately no
detailed records of the work are available but it certainly involved an
increase in the pitch of the roof and the change in outline can be
viewed well from the present car park. A report, however, of the Service
of Thanksgiving for the restoration of the building was published in the
Irish Ecclesiastical Gazette, December 10th 1897. It mentions also that
the during this work the east end of Garvaghy Church was re-arranged so
that the Prayer Desk and Lectern were on one side with the Pulpit on the
other. The interior of the Church was also repainted. The Service of
Thanksgiving was said by the Rector, the Rev J H Chapman, the lessons
were read by the Right Hon Lord Arthur Hill MP and the Bishop preached
the sermon. The collection at the Service for the restoration fund came
The Parish in the 20th century
Select Vestry meetings
In 1900, 1901, 1902 and 1903 the Annual Easter Vestry
was held in the Vestry room of the Parish Church. The Rev F Wilkinson
was rector at the time. In earlier years the meetings had been held in
the School House.
In 1902 the Annual General Vestry discussed School
House repairs. No details are given, but Mr William Dennison, Mr James
Kerr and Miss Clinton, who was both organist and local School
Teacher, were appointed to collect subscriptions. The
Vestry also received estimates from S Heron of Ballynahinch for painting
of School (�1.2.0) and of Church (�8.12.6.) These were accepted.
A call for a curate
A special meeting of the Select Vestry was held in
the Parochial Schoolhouse on 18th April 1904 at 7.30pm at which the Rev
F Wilkinson presided. It was proposed by Robert James Spiers and
seconded by William McClughan and passed unanimously that,
`We the Select Vestry of Garvaghy, do most
respectfully petition our Bishop, the Diocesan Council and
Church extension Committee, to grant us the services of a curate
to reside amongst us, our rector living five and a half miles
from our Church and having a united Parish of 14 miles in length
and there being a Church of Ireland population of 215 in
Garvaghy Parish, which with the Dromara population of 338 and
considering the great extent of the union it is impossible for
our clergyman to adequately visit and minister to us.'
The reply of the Diocesan Council is not recorded
although no Curate was ever appointed.
8th June 1901 in Dromore Cathedral -19 from Garvaghy,
16 from Dromara, presented by the Rev F Wilkinson. These constitute the
earliest confirmation records of the Parish.
At the Annual General Vestry March 18th 1913 held in
the Vestry Room, Mr John Gracey was elected Chairman as the Rector had
had an accident. It was decided that steps should be taken to erect a
wall between Church and School House on the graveyard side but the
matter was left until the recovery of the rector.
Minutes of Select Vestry meetings
Until 1920 only the minutes of the Annual General
Easter Vestry meetings (AGEV) had been recorded. It is therefore not
known how often the Select Vestry met or the nature of the business
transacted. Minutes of all Select Vestry meetings, however, began in
1920. At the first minuted meeting on 2nd July it was decided to spend a
sum of money on a trip for the Sunday School children. Also in November
of 1920 there is a reference to a new stove being bought for the Church.
Mr, James Kerr
At the Annual General Vestry of 1921 Mr James Kerr is
mentioned as Honorary Treasurer and Honorary Secretary. The contribution
of the Kerr family to the Church in Garvaghy Parish has been Immense and
it was continued into recent years by the late Mr Sidney Kerr son of the
Mr James Kerr named above.
The envelope scheme for financial giving was started
in June or July 1922. This had been discussed at the General Vestry in
Mention is also made of Miss Clinton as the Honorary
At the Annual General Easter Vestry of 1922 there was
concern expressed that the parish should make an effort to pay the
minimum Clerical Stipend as laid down by General Synod. It was also
decided to re-paint the Church doors. A circular dated December 1922
says that Garvaghy found it difficult to meet the Yearly Sustentation
and so at a meeting of the Select Vestry it was decided to hold a Bazaar
to help towards this end.
The Bazaar was held over a period of three days and
according to a report in the Dromore Leader of 16th December 1922 the
total amount raised to that date was �375-13s-Od including a very
generous gift of �50 from Lord Waring and Mrs. Kelly. The Bazaar was
extended, however, for several extra days to sell off articles that had
remained. The final sum realised is not recorded either in available
Church records or by the local press. The sum of money reported in the
Leader, however, must have represented a great deal of hard work on the
part of parishioners.
The generous gift by Lord Waring is part of a pattern
of contact between his family and Garvaghy Parish. The exact nature of
the relationship between the two in uncertain but seems to stem from the
early 18th century when the Waring family established their seat in the
Bazaar and War Bonds 1923
A meeting was held 20th December 1923 in Church to
discuss the money raised at the Bazaar. The purpose of the money was to
help pay the Clerical Income. After a prolonged discussion it was
proposed by Mr RJ Spiers and seconded by Mr James Kerr that the money be
invested in 5% war stock and the interest be paid annually to the
Clerical Income. Mr R J Spiers and Mr John Gracey were appointed
Trustees. The Rector was also to be a Trustee.
Much later at a meeting on 22nd April 1938 it was
decided to pay the interest into the Sustentation Fund rather than into
the Clerical Income. Later again, in 1950, there was a discussion about
the names of the Trustees -new ones were Mr William Spiers, Mr Sidney
Kerr and the Rev S Squires. The certificate was for �490 and the Vestry
proposed adding a further �10. At a later meeting it was reported
however that the �10 could not be added as the War Stock would have to
be sold and new Stock bought, probably at a loss.
Select Vestry meeting 30th April 1924
Miss Clinton proposed that the Organ Blower receive
�1.5.0 per annum; this was passed. Mr William McClughan proposed that
the interior walls of the Church be painted a putty or cream colour;
this was passed. It was also decided to erect a tablet in the Church to
commemorate those who served in the Great War.
Heavy rain in 1925
In 1925 only 6 people attended the AGEV due to the
very heavy rain. Those present were the rector, the Rev J Armstrong,
William McClughan, Robert James Spiers, James Irwin, James Kerr and
The work of Miss Clinton
Miss Clinton moved away from the area in 1927 and at
a meeting of the Select Vestry the rector made reference to her work
with the music of the Church, the choir and her great contribution to
the Church's interest in foreign missions and charities. She had also
been principal of Garvaghy School for upwards of 35 years, a post from
which she retired in 1926.
The funeral of Mr Willie Wallace, March 1929
Mr Willie Wallace had been organist in the Parish
Church since Miss Clinton had left. He was a very skilled musician and
it is recorded that music was often to be heard coming from his home in
Tullyniskey. Willie had played at many concerts throughout Co Down and
he spent much of his spare time collecting folk songs of the County. He
had been cycling home from Dromara on 13th March when he fell with a
fatal wound to his head. On the way to the Church a large number of
Orange Brethren and Black Knights wearing regalia marched behind the
hearse while the coffin was wrapped in the flags of Waringsford Lodge
and Preceptory. The Rector, the Rev J Armstrong presided at the Funeral
Service and was assisted by the Rev David Baird of Garvaghy Presbyterian
A gift of Lord Waring
The Dromore Leader of 19th October 1929 reported that
during the Evening Prayer of the previous Sunday the Rev Thomas Martin
of Aghaderg Parish, at the request of the Rev Mr Armstrong, Rector of
Garvaghy, dedicated a set of Aladdin lamps. These were presented to the
Church by Lord Waring and Mrs Alexander Kelly. After the third collect
the Churchwardens, Mr Robert Spiers and Mr William Cunningham, asked the
Rev Thomas Martin to dedicate the gifts. After the act of dedication Mr
Martin gave a short address and remarked that he had come to know Mrs
Kelly during that time he had been curate of Waringstown and that this
gift she and Lord Waring had made to the Church was typical of her
generous nature. He also said that although he did not know the present
Lord Waring he had been told of his attention to and gifts to both the
Church of Garvaghy and other organisations in the locality. Mr Martin
took as his text on this occasion,
`I am the light of the world; he that followeth
me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of Life.'
A new organ
At a meeting of the Select Vestry on 2nd December
1930 a committee was appointed to buy a new organ. James Pollock,
organist of Dromara, was also to be on the committee to give advice and
guidance. This had been bought and dedicated by March 1932 and at the
Vestry Meeting held in that month the Rector thanked Mr R J Spiers and
Mr James Kerr as the main people behind the work for the organ.
3rd January 1940
At this meeting of the Select Vestry tenders for a
new Communion Table were discussed. Mr Logan's tender was accepted. The
organ was again considered for some uncertain reason. The Rev Mr
Woodhouse, who was in temporary charge of Garvaghy and Dromara, was left
to deal with the matter. He also suggested some other improvements to
7th February 1940
The members of the Select Vestry heard a lengthy
discussion regarding the matter of buying an oil heater for the choir.
The Rev Mr Woodhouse was told to do as he thought best. He also
submitted a draft of a new Chalice at the meeting but the members
thought they would not buy it at present. He also told the members that
at a meeting of Dromara Vestry it had been said that if Garvaghy could
raise an extra �7 Sustentation then Dromara would raise the rest to
enable them to have the services of a rector.
Mr S Kerr
At a meeting of the Vestry held in the Church on
Sunday 30th April 1944, with the Rev S Squires presiding, Mr Sidney Kerr
was elected to the Select Vestry and was appointed Treasurer and
Secretary in place of his late father, Mr James Kerr. The vestry had
given a wreath at the time of his father's recent death.
Birds in the belfry
In May 1944 it was reported that a Jackdaw had built a
nest in the belfry and there was concern about possible damage. Mr
Thomas Ferguson said that he would send along some of his sons to help
with the removal of the nest.
In 1945 the Vestry got a quotation for repairing the
paths around the Church which were needing restoration. The quotation in
question was �45 with a further �15 being required to pipe away the rain
Change in Parochial status
A joint meeting was held with Dromara in Garvaghy
School room in 1945, the purpose being to discuss a proposal to raise
the parishes of Garvaghy and Dromara from the status of Curate-in-charge
to that of an Incumbency. The Garvaghy members were pleased to go along
with the scheme as long as the assessment for Garvaghy be reduced in
proportion to the number of families as compared with the number in
Dromara. To date they had been paying the assessment 50-50; the Rev S
Squires said he would contact the Diocesan Council regarding altering
the assessment. At a later meeting it was reported that the parishes
could divide the assessment any way they wished and the Diocesan Council
only asked that they receive the full amount. On 10th May 1946 Garvaghy
Vestry decided to pay half of the required �85. The distribution of a
circular to each family about the changes was to be left to the Chairman
and Mr S Kerr. In 1948 this story continued with Dromara feeling that
Garvaghy should not have to pay half and proposed that 2/ 5 be paid
instead. This was accepted by the members of Garvaghy Select Vestry.
A Group or a Union?
In 1947 there was discussion as to whether Garvaghy
and Dromara should remain as Grouped Parishes or move to being a Union.
As a Group each Parish remained independent and merely shared the
services of a priest. As a Union however they would merge to become one
parish, having two centres of worship, administered by a single Select
Vestry. It was decided that Garvaghy and Dromara remain a Group rather
than change to being a Union.
The Harvest Gift envelopes were introduced for the
Harvest Services of 1947. This was in place of the special collectors of
other years. The new venture was proposed by Mr J Kerr and seconded by
Mr T H Porter. At meeting in 1948 it was reported that the Harvest
Envelope Scheme had worked very well.
Cleaning of the War Memorial
In March 1951 the War Memorial Tablet was cleaned and
a stove pipe fitted. The minutes of the Select Vestry meetings reports
that the members were "astounded" at the prices, �4-50 for the cleaning
and �9-10-6 for the pipe.
A light shines
Electric lights were installed during October 1955 by
Mr Jack Geddis of Muckamore, Co. Antrim. They were dedicated at the
Harvest Thanksgiving service on 14th October by the Rev G Thornton of
Magherafelt. Also dedicated at this service were the pulpit hanging and
the book stand for the Holy Table. These were anonymous gifts.
Death of a faithful Rector
The Rev S Squires died 2nd February 1956 aged 54
years in the Musgrave and Clark Clinc, Belfast. He was buried in Dromara
Parish Churchyard on Saturday 4th February 1956 at 3.00pm. The crowd was
so great that not all could get into the Church. The Rev Canon
Kilpatrick of Dromore Cathedral read the Burial Service and the Rev John
Frazer of Willowfield Parish, Belfast, preached the sermon. A memorial
service was held later in Garvaghy on Sunday 12th February 1956 at
3.30pm at which the Church was filled to overflowing. The service was
conducted by the Rev Mr Rose of Belfast and the sermon was preached by
the Rev F C Jameson of Upper Falls Parish, Belfast. He took as his text
2 Corinthians 4:5,
`For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus
the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.'
At the first Annual General Easter Vestry, held on
6th April 1956, after the death of the Rev S Squires, the Rev G Thornton
of Magherafelt, was in the chair. Mention was made of all who had died
in the past year especially the Rev S Squires and a period of silence
The Rev S E Long
In 1956 the Rev S E Long was instituted as Incumbent of
the Grouped Parishes of Dromara and Garvaghy. He moved from the curacy
of Willowfield in Belfast and very quickly became an integral part of
the local community and played an active part in every aspect of it.
A Sale of Work was organised by the women of the
parish for November 1957 to be held in the Presbyterian lecture hall.
The men of the vestry were asked to give their full support. The Sale of
Work and the sale of Christmas cards raised �140. Mention was also made
at this time of the difficulty Garvaghy had in meeting its share of the
A new rectory
A tender of �4000 for a new rectory in Dromara was
accepted in 1959. During the building of the new rectory the Long family
lived in Mill View, Waringsford. This house was owned by Mr George
Ervine JP who asked only the smallest of fees.
Repairs to the Church
At the General Easter Vestry in April 1962 it was
reported that water had now been laid to the side of the Church, new
heating had been installed and new Church furniture had been obtained
and the Church painted. The re-opening and re-dedication took place at
the beginning of April 1962 and was presided over by the Rt Rev F J
Mitchell, Bishop of the Diocese. The gifts given in memory of the Rev.
S. Squires were a pulpit, prayer desk and lectern, each of which were
made of oak. Other gifts were a Holy Table (from Mr William Spiers), an
oil fired central heating (from Dr Martha Cantley of Belfast), a
communion rail carpet (from Mrs William Spiers), and a vase (from Miss
Meta Spiers). Other items dedicated were sanctuary chairs and carpeting
in the nave. Taking part in the service were, along with the Bishop, the
Rev S E Long (rector), the Rev CHE Clayton (Dromore Cathedral and Rural
Dean) and the Rev J Shearer (Ballynahinch); the Churchwardens were Mr
Robert Lavery and Mr Samuel Cunningham; Miss Edna Ferguson presided at
the organ. In his sermon the Bishop paid tribute to the late Rev S
Squires whom he had known since college days. Among those present were
the late rector's wife, Mrs Squires, and his daughter, Miss Patricia
The School had been a very important part of the
Parish for many years but it finally closed at the end of December 1969.
Many people objected to this but the closure went ahead and the pupils
were transferred to Kinallen. In more recent times the schools of Carnew,
Gransha and Kinallen have all closed and a new building has been built
in Kinallen. Following the closure of Garvaghy School the property and
the land attached reverted to the ownership of the Church. In 1973 a car
park was made on the land adjoining the former School, which had now
become the Church Hall. This was carried out by voluntary labour. Over
the years both car park and hall have been upgraded and improved. The
hall is still used for a range of functions throughout the year: Bible
Study and Prayer Group meetings, Sunday School, drama, missionary
meetings and meals.
Service for the deaf
Since 1975 the Parish has hosted an annual service for the adult deaf
on a Sunday evening on or near to Palm Sunday. This was established when
the Rev Oliver Thompson was Chief Executive and Chaplain to the Ulster
Institute for the Deaf and it has been continued under his successor,
the Rev William Murphy. In the Service the Chaplain's regular
congregation and others who have hearing difficulties join with Garvaghy
Parishioners and friends in worship and praise. The practice is that the
Chaplain "signs" the service and translates for the hearing members of
the congregation. The evening has always been brought to a close with a
large supper and plenty of conversation in the Church Hall, all of which
is typical of the warm hospitality of the people of Garvaghy.
The 280th anniversary of the present Church in Garvaghy was observed
with services on 17th June 1979. The Very Rev G Wilson, Dean of Connor,
was the guest preacher and also dedicated a number of gifts: a new front
door, Service Book, Bible, and the redecoration of the Church and the
renewal of the woodwork. The Service Book and door were the gifts of the
Wallace family and the Bible was the gift of Mrs M Hamilton of
Drumlough. The Choir sang "Green Pastures," a setting of the 23rd Psalm,
and the soloist was Mrs Wilkinson who sang "The Holy City." The other
special singers and instrumentalists were the "Kingsmen". Also present
at the service was the Rev J A Todd, Minister of Garvaghy Presbyterian
Church. The collection at the service came to �707.77
On Sunday 21st June 1981 the Rev S E Long completed twenty five years
as Incumbent of Garvaghy and Dromara. The preacher at the Sunday
Services was the Rt Rev Dr G McMullan, Bishop of Clogher. At tea in
Dromara Parish Hall following the service in Dromara presentations were
made to mark the occasion. Mr John Jess, People's Churchwarden of
Dromara, presided. He and Mr John Wallace, People's Churchwarden of
Garvaghy gave the rector an electric typewriter and a cheque. Mrs P
McKinstry of Dromara and Mrs M Porter of Garvaghy presented Mrs Long
with a table lamp.
The Rev S E Long was installed as a Canon of Dromore Cathedral,
holding the Prebendary of Dromara, on 2nd July 1981. The preacher was
the Rev Dr M Dewar, who at that time was rector of Helen's Bay. Dr Long
contributed greatly to the Church in the Diocese, not only by his part
in the life of the Cathedral, but also by his writing on a wide range of
subjects, his editorship of the Diocesan Magazine and his leadership of
the Lurgan Clerical Union. His dedication to learning was crowned by his
working for and his achieving of a Doctorate in 1994. He retired from
the Parishes in 1985. Throughout his time he worked hard for the Church
and the community and was held in high esteem. His commitment to the
wider community was recognised by his appointment as J P in 1968, a job
that he undertook with care and dedication. He was also a prominent
member of the Orange Order and wrote a number of books and articles on
Orange and Unionist matters. These include: "Orangeism: A New Historical
Appreciation" "Carson: Man for Ulster" "Orangeism in Northern Ireland"
and "The Orange Institution in the USA"
Dr Long was ordained deacon on 26th June 1949 for the curacy of St
Clement's Parish, Belfast. He was ordained priest on 24th June 1950 and
in 1952 moved to be curate of Willowfield Parish, also in Belfast. In
1956 he moved to be Incumbent of the Grouped Parishes of Dromara and
Garvaghy. He and his wife, Eleanor, were married on 16th April 1947 and
have three children: Norman William, Samuel Colin and Ernest Mervyn.
Dr Long was succeeded by the Rev William Thomas Long who was
instituted as rector on 1st May 1986. The Rev William Long was ordained
deacon 24th June 1981 for the curacy of Orangefield Parish in Belfast.
He was ordained priest on 29th June 1982 and in 1984 moved to be curate
in St Mark's Parish in Portadown. He was Incumbent of Dromara and
Garvaghy 1986 to 1991, Aghalurcher, Tattykeeran and Cooneen (Clogher
Diocese) 1991 to 1996 and is currently Incumbent of Kilhorne (Annalong)
in Down Diocese. He and his wife, Geraldine, married 27th February 1981
and have two children, Mandy and William.
During the Incumbency of the Rev William Long the first known notice
board for Garvaghy Parish Church was erected and was a gift of the
Cunningham family in memory of their late parents, Rachel and David John
Cunningham. The dedication was carried out by the Rev Canon S E Long on
2nd November 1986. In December 1986 electrical heating was installed in
the Church Hall to replace the old pot-bellied stove. A sponsored walk
in May 1987 raised the sum of �940 for the Parish and in January 1988 a
new organ was purchased for the sum of �3200. A Parish Mission was held
in Garvaghy 10th to 17th April 1988 at which the Evangelist was Captain
David Oxley of the Church Army. Then in the spring of 1989 the Church
bell, dating from the early 18th century, was taken down and sent to
England for expert repair work. The Rev William Long preached his last
sermon in Garvaghy Parish Church on Sunday 25th August 1991.
More recent times still saw more developments in the life of Garvaghy
Parish. Sunday 15th June 1996 witnessed a quite unusual occurrence in
the story of the Parish. The service of the Holy Communion was held
outside the Church building in bright sunshine. The reason for this was
the Church was occupied by a very active swarm of bees. At a social
evening on 20th September 1996 members of the Church staged a play
written by Miss Alma Ferguson, called, "So much for your plans" which
was enjoyed by a large number of people from the Parish and beyond. In
these recent years the Parish, along with Dromara enjoyed the services
and friendship of Mr Raymond Rennix, a Diocesan Reader, who had moved
with his wife Helen from St Thomas' Parish in Belfast to live in
Dromara. Raymond had a keen interest in the Church's liturgy and shared
fully in the life of the Church and community.
It is always difficult to know where to finish a
story such as that of the Church in Garvaghy. The history of a Church, a
community, never really comes to an end for the people of the present
are continually making tomorrow's history in all kinds of ways.
In Church of Ireland Parishes the body that oversees
the temporal affairs of the Church is known as the Select Vestry, its
members being elected by the Parishioners. Its members play an important
part in shaping the life of the Church, in preserving the heritage of
the past and in looking forward into the future
Several currently serving members of the Garvaghy
Parish Select Vestry have been members now for many years and over that
time contributed much to the life of the Church. Mr Jack Kerr was
elected to the Select Vestry on 11th April 1947 meaning that at the time
of going to print he has served for 52 years. His wife Mrs Vera Kerr was
elected to the Select Vestry on 23rd April 1954 and resigned from it in
April 1994 having served as a member for 40 years. Together this makes a
total of 92 years faithful service to the Church. Mrs Kerr was also
organist for quite a few years having started to play in 1944.
In addition Mr Porter was also elected People's
Churchwarden on the same occasion. He and his wife, Mrs Mina Porter, who
was elected to the Select Vestry in 1984, are still hardworking members.
Mr Robert Lavery and Mr Samuel Cunningham have each completed 40 years
to date and continue to serve.
Sadly, however, two of those who had served the
longest in the latter part of the 20th century, Mr Sidney Kerr and Mr
Samuel Ferguson, died in recent years. Each had completed fifty years as
members of the Select Vestry and Mr Sidney Kerr had also been Honorary
Treasurer for that same length of time and concurrently Honorary
Secretary for much of it. Also in recent times the death took place of
Mr Thomas James (Jim) Ferguson, the last man to be employed as Sexton of
the Parish Church. He had been appointed sexton in 1945.
Mr Samuel Ferguson's daughter, Miss Edna Ferguson, is
currently the very capable and talented organist of the Church. The
result of her dedicated work with the Choir manifests itself in the high
quality of the music and singing at each Sunday's worship and at the
major festivals of the Christian Year. She was appointed deputy to Mrs
Vera Kerr at the Annual General Easter Vestry on 2nd April 1959 and in
1961 was appointed Organist.
Many people in many ways have shaped and served the
Church in the Parish making it what it is today. In the roll of the 20th
century many names come up time and time again, names such as Berwick,
Biggerstaff, Copling, Craig, Cunningham, Dennison, Edgar, Ferguson,
Gribben, Hawthorne, Kelso, Kerr, Laffins, Lavery, Musgrave, McClughan,
Mcllroy, Porter, Rankin, Roke, Shillington, Spiers, Steele and Wallace.
There is not enough space to examine the contribution made by each
family but it is all of immense and lasting value.
The Church in Garvaghy has seen many chapters open
and close from the days of the small Celtic monastery in the 9th century
through to the closing days of the 20th century but still the prayers
and praises of the people are offered and the name of God is glorified.
As this chapter closes perhaps it would be wise to reflect on the words
of the writer of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews,
`Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about
with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight,
and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with
patience the race that is set before us.'
Garvaghy School, an account by Mr J Kerr,
Schoolmaster of Garvaghy School from 15th
May 1939 to 28th September 1945
Garvaghy School is situated on the eastern side of
the road between Garvaghy Parish Church and Garvaghy Presbyterian Church
about equidistant from each. It is thought that the original school was
on the opposite side of the road immediately across from the present
building. However no trace of this old structure remains.
Garvaghy Public Elementary School as it was known was
a voluntary School, controlled for the most part by the Church of
Ireland. The Rector of the grouped parishes of Dromara and Garvaghy
being manager of the School. As manager the Rector was responsible for
the basic maintenance of the School and for the appointment of teachers.
Occasionally however teachers and pupils organised events to raise funds
to augment the cash necessary for maintaining and heating the building.
These fund raising events usually were concerts held in Waringsford
Orange Hall which was always kindly granted and made ready by members of
the Lodge. The children were the entertainers, thoroughly enjoying the
rehearsals and the actual performance on the night. Parents and friends
The School is a stone built building and while in
operation as a school was divided into two classrooms by a wooden
partition with a communicating door. Just one entrance which led into a
porch acted as a cloakroom for the pupils. In the 1930s the senior
classroom was heated by a stove and the junior by an open fire. There
were no modern facilities. Drinking water had to be carried each morning
from a well and there were outside toilets.
Just prior to the outbreak of war in 1939 there were
approximately 60 pupils on the roll with a staff of Principal and
assistant teacher. Many of the children were sons and daughters of
farmers from the area. Quite a number also came from the village of
Waringsford where often their fathers worked in Ervine's Mill which at
that time was a busy and expanding business. The assistant teacher held
sway in the junior classroom having charge of infants, senior infants
and the 1st and 2nd classes, while the Principal had classes 3rd to 7th.
The upper limit of age for school attendance was 14 years. Some pupils
on approaching the upper age limit transferred to Wallace, Banbridge
Academy or Lisburn Technical but transport was often a problem. However,
the introduction of the Qualifying Examination for pupils aged eleven
plus meant a dramatic fall in the numbers on the rolls. From henceforth
all pupils over eleven years transferred from Primary School to either a
Grammar School or to a new Intermediate School.
About this time the management of the School was
transferred to the Down Education Committee and as a result some
structural improvements were made. The toilets were upgraded but despite
this remained very basic. Running water was not provided for several
more years. The Education Committee was later named the South Eastern
Education and Library Board. During the 1960's the school population of
Garvaghy gradually declined and with the building of a new school at
Kinallen all the pupils were transferred there. This marked the
beginning of the end for the small local schools and today Garvaghy,
Carnew, Gransha and Skeogh no longer exist as schools. On its closure as
a school Garvaghy reverted back to ownership of Garvaghy Parish Church.
During recent years the Church has greatly enhanced
the Church Hall, as the old School is now called. A completely new
modern kitchen has been installed, new toilets fitted and the whole
building has been rewired also an electric heating system installed. The
Church now makes good use of the Hall; each Sunday for Sunday School,
weekly Bible Studies, occasional missionary meetings and a range of
other Church activities including Drama Groups. With the new kitchen
catering is much easier. The old school building has become a central
part of the everyday functioning of the Parish.
While functioning as a voluntary school the pupils
did not enjoy many of the luxuries enjoyed by many scholars today. All
textbooks and writing materials had to be purchased. Often in the senior
classes a reading book consisting of selected stories, perhaps a novel
by Charles Dickens or a Shakespearean play would be studied. Quite often
too the use of Latin in everyday English would be examined. The
structure of sentences in writing together with parsing were also
taught. Mathematics generally consisted of arithmetic with a little
algebra. Pen and ink were used in writing books while pencils were kept
for jotters. The school day lasted from 9.30am to 3.00pm with a mid-day
break at 12.30 for lunch. Children brought their own packed lunch and
when the 1/3 pint of milk was supplied this facility was taken up by
most pupils. During break football, skipping, marbles etc. were played
but on wet winter days everyone remained in class.
There was not much communication between pupils of
neighbouring schools. Sports Day in Dromore meant that all the schools
of the area met and competed in various sports and fancy dress. These
occasions were well supported by parents and friends.
As there was no piped water supply two pupils were
enlisted to bring a bucket of drinking water from the well each morning.
This bucket was placed on a bench at the north wall of the School. There
was also a weekly rota of pupils to help with sweeping and cleaning and
it was not until Garvaghy was taken over by the Down Education Committee
that a caretaker was appointed. School holidays were influenced by the
farming year, planting, grain and potato harvests with breaks being
generally no more than three weeks. New pupils were enrolled after the
spring and summer holidays and the size of classes throughout the School
was dependent on the intake on these occasions. Absences were not a
problem. The School Attendance Officer visited the School monthly and he
expected to receive good reasons for absences. Parents were cooperative
and helpful. In the early days of the War a small garden was cultivated
in a corner of the field behind the School in which vegetables were
grown. Girls did needlework and in winter cookery was an extra. All
pupils took part in PE or in PT as it was then called. Apart from
needlework and cookery all pupils took all subjects including music and
geography along with those already mentioned. Radio lessons for schools,
music, nature study and history etc. also played their part and were
much appreciated. Some homework was set, written work together with
spellings and tables to be learned by rote. Tests were conducted twice a
year but no written reports of these were sent to the parents. The age
of "paper mania" had not yet arrived.
Religious Education was taught in accordance with a
programme set down by the Church of Ireland and all pupils took part. In
the summer a visiting clergyman came to test the pupils on their
progress. During the Religious Instruction period a card displaying the
words "Religious Instruction" was placed in a prominent position
in the classroom. This card was then turned round to show "Secular
Instruction" as appropriate.
School Inspectors from the then Ministry of Education
visited Garvaghy generally once in two years. Their visits were
generally informal and advisory and certainly there was much less
pressure on teachers and pupils than there is today. All pupils walked
to school, no queue of
cars at the school gate. Children were quite safe on
the roads with none of today's problems of abduction and abuse.
Altogether Garvaghy School was a most pleasant place to work, set in the
midst of a friendly farming community and friendships forged at school
and in the surrounding district have remained strong until today.
The townlands of Garvaghy Parish
Balle Ailigh, meaning "townland of the stony place"
This had been owned by the Church, as apparently was the whole Parish,
but by 1834 the landlord was a Magennis and his home as well as a Roman
Catholic Church were situated in the townland.
Balle Ailigh Mor, meaning "large townland of the
This formed part of the mensal lands of the Bishop of Dromore, that is
land that was for the sole use of the Bishop for the literal purpose of
putting food on his table.
Cam Aodha, meaning "Aodh's Cairn"
This townland on the eastern boundary of the parish once belonged to Sir
Art Magennis and contains Carnew Hill which at 753 feet is the highest
point of the parish. A map of 1743 shows a lake in the townland but no
trace of it remains. The location of the Cairn indicated by the name of
the townland is uncertain.
Caiseal Ui Bheannachain, meaning "O'Banahan's
A Cashel was a protective stone enclosure around an important farmstead
similar to the more plentiful earth enclosures known as raths. No cashel
survives in the townland but there are two examples to the south-east in
the parish of Drumgooland.
Corrbhaile, meaning "odd/noticeable townland"
The word is a compound of corr meaning "odd, pointed or projecting" and
baile meaning "town or townland". This was Church land in the early 17th
Aonach, meaning "fairground"
Some have suggested that the name comes from eanach "marsh" but as
this is more usually anglicized annagh the meaning indicated above is
more likely. The name would seem to come from a "fair ground" or a "fair
hill" site not identified.
Feochadanaigh, meaning "place of thistles"
This was held by Sir Art Magennis in the early 17th century but as
it contains the Parish Church and graveyard it most likely began as
Garbhachadh, meaning "rough field"
It is thought that up to 1659 the townland of Garvaghy was the area
referred to as Ballyfergowan or Fergone meaning probably "smith's
grassland". The prominent hill in the townland has been known since 1618
as Garvaghy Hill.
Coill Chon Murchaidh, meaning "wood of Murchadh's
By 1617 the townland belonged to Edward Trevor but nothing is known
of its earlier history.
Cill Eidhnigh, meaning "ivy-covered Church"
For information on this townland see chapter one.
Cnoc Mhig Uidhrin, meaning "MacGivern's Hill"
This was used as the general name for the Bishop's four mensal
townlands. All their names were, Knockgorm, Killaney, Castlevennon and
Balloolymore. There were many clergy of the MacGivern name in Dromore
Diocese in 15th century and there could be a link between some of them
and the townland.
Seanrod, meaning "old road"
For information about this townland see chapter one.
Tulaigh Abhann Eascannai, meaning "hillock of the Eel
This was one of the Garvaghy group of townlands held by William
Worseley from Sir Art Magennis.
Tulaigh Oirir, meaning "hillock of the boundary"
This lies on the boundary between Lower and Upper Iveagh which may
have given rise to the "boundary" element to the name.
The succession of Clergy in the
Parish of Garvaghy
It should be noted that until the Disestablishment of
the Church of Ireland in 1870 the position of Rector of Garvaghy was
held by the Prebendary (or Canon) of Dromaragh in Dromore Cathedral. He
derived his income from contributions levied from several parishes,
including Garvaghy and Dromara along with others. The name of the
Prebend is an old form of the spelling of Dromara. The Vicar was a
priest who worked in the Parish as the representative of the Rector and
a Curate was someone employed by the Vicar to assist with work in the
Hudson (son of Leonard, above)
Hugh Samuel Hamilton (son of
Abraham Smyth King
Francis Robert McMinn Graham
United with Dromara, 1885
Joseph Henry Chapman
William Doran Falkiner Wilkinson
Hugh Frederic Woodhouse
Stanhope Sabine Squires
Samuel Ernest Long
William Thomas Long
The Prebendaries of Dromaragh
Until Disestablishment the Prebendaries (or Canons) of Dromaragh in
Dromore Cathedral were appointed as Rectors of the parishes from which
they derived their income. After Disestablishment this ceased to be the
practice so that the clergy who worked in the parishes were instituted
as Rectors rather than as Vicars.
Maguyn and Dermot Omuste
Ussher Son of H Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh.
|James Edward Archer
|Patrick Albert Kelly
|Andrew William McGarvey
|Edward Samuel Medcalf
|Matthew George Gardiner
|Robert William Thomas Howard Kilpatrick
|John William Applebe
|George Cooper Johnston
|Charles Henry Ernest Clayton
|Hugh Hastings Richard Mayes
|William John Thomas Frazer
|Nobel Ridgeway Hamilton
|Ralph Strafford Peters
|Dermot Christopher Ledgard Jameson
|Samuel Ernest Long
|Mervyn Robert Wilson
|John Donaldson Caldwell
|Robert Ferguson Greer
Co Down 100 years ago: a guide and directory by George Henry Bassett
1886 reprinted in 1988 by Friar's Bush Press, Belfast
Ordnance Survey, memoirs of Ireland
Vol 12 Parishes of County Down 1833-8
Edited by Angelique Day and Patrick McWilliams The Institute of Irish
Studies, Queen's University of Belfast
Printed by W&G Baird Ltd, Antrim 1992
Revolt in the North: Antrim and Down in 1798 Charles Dickson
Clanmore and Reynolds 1960
A History of Congregations in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church University Press 1982
General Valuation of Rateable Property in Ireland by Richard
Commissioner of Valuation, 1863
Medieval Religious Houses, Ireland Aubrey Gwynn and R Neville Knowles
Irish Academic Press (Dublin) 1988
All Saints Hall, Ballela Souvenir Brochure by the Rev M Hackett
A Short History of the Parish of Dromara by the Rev Dr Canon S E Long
Betsy Gray or Hearts of Down by W G Lyttle reprinted by Mourne
Place-Names of Northern Ireland, Vol 6 County Down, North West Down/Iveagh
by Kay Muhr 1996
History of the Church of Ireland Ed W A Philips
Succession Lists of the Diocese of Dromore by the Very Rev H B Swanzy
Printed by R Carswell & Son Ltd, Belfast, 1933
Garvaghy Presbyterian Church 1800-1954, an historical record by the
Rev J A Todd
The Leader Press, Dromore
Gravestone inscriptions, Co Down (vol 19) Ulster Historical
Northern Whig Ltd, Belfast.
Irish Family History Marilyn Yourdan
BT Batsford Ltd. 1990
Buildings at risk, volume 3
Published by Ulster Architectural Society 1996
Endowed Schools of Ireland Commission Vol 1 1856
Ecclesiastical Commissioners of Ireland Report Diocese of Dromore 1836
Church of Ireland Gazette
Irish Ecclesiastical Gazette
Minutes of Garvaghy Parish Select Vestry meetings
Divine Service registers
M S S in Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
Parliamentary Gazetteer 1843/44
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