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Loughinisland Churches.

In County Down.

Loughinisland Churches.

Lough an Oilean The lough with the island

Loughinisland Churches are beautifully situated on an island which gave the area its name, the island can be accessed by a causeway, there are three churches in the group arranged more or less in north south alignment. The graveyard which is exceptionally well cared for is still in use today although it is nearly three hundred years since the site was used for worship.

It is not known exactly when Loughinisland first became a site for Christian worship, excevations have shown the churches were built over an extensive early Christian cemetery with long cist graves. Also discovered at this time was a bronze buckle, with enamel and glass inlay, it is thought this would suggest occupation of the site not later than the 8th century.

The oldest church situated in the middle of the three dates from the 13th century. The south church known as McCartan's Chapel was built in 1636 a carved stone set above the western doorway is of dressed Castle Espie limestone bearing this date and the initials P M C referring to Phelim McCartan, the McCartan main seat of power was at Annadorn (Ath na Dornan - The ford of Dorna) on the other side of the lough, the churchyard at Loughinisland was their main burial ground. Both the north and south churches have carved masks inserted into the gable walls. This small building may have been the private chapel of the McCartans, an inscription on a nearby gravestone reads.

Here lieth ye body of John MacArtan, the MacArtan of Kinelarty who departed this life the 26th day of Sept. 1736 aged 96 years. Phelomey who departed this life the 27th day of June 1761 aged 82 years. Dominik who departed 1772 aged 78 years.

And Another.

This stone records the death of the Revd. Theophilus Macarten, the R.C. Bishop of Down and Connor, and late P.P. of Loughinisland who departed this life on the ..... December, 1778 aged 78 years.

The north church the larger of the three is thought to date from the 15th or 16th century, it appears to have been used for both Protestant and Catholic worship. Remaining in use until 1720 when the Protestant congregation transferred to Seaford Church of Ireland church taking the roof with them. The story relating to this is that both denominations used the church, the Catholics holding their service first, one day during the Catholic service an exceptionally heavy rainstorm occured, the Catholics refused to come out and the Protestants got soaked. Resulting in the landlord Mr Forde having the roof removed to Seaforde

Inside this church set in one of the walls is a part of one of the oldest gravestones, it bears a latin inscription which translated reads.

Maurice Birn lies covered by this pile of stones which, while living,
he erected at his own expence. A.D. 1617.

Directions: 4 miles west of Downpatrick on island in Lough, reached by causeway.

The nearby village of Loughinisland was the scene of an atrocity on 18 June 1994 six Catholics were shot dead by the Ulster Volunteer Force during a gun attack, on The Heights Bar in the village.

Situated 4 miles west from Inch Abbey take the B2 to Annacloy and then the first turning on the left. Situated in Tievenadarragh townland, is one mile east of the Belfast to Newcastle road (A24).

Contact Historic Monuments on (028) 90 543034

Click for a set of images of Loughinisland Churches.

Click for an 81 piece digital jigsaw of Loughinisland Churches.

Read about The Parish of Loughinisland.

Background image Greyabbey Monastic Site