Thursday, 6 May 2021



KILKEEL, a post town and parish, and the head of a union, in the barony of Mourne, County Down, 15 miles from Newry.

It stands on a stream of 4½ miles in length, called the Kilkeel river, one mile above the stream's influx to the Irish Sea.

It contains several places of worship, and a few shops for the supply of the adjacent mountainous country.

This parish comprises 47,882¾ statute acres, of which about 11,000 are arable, and 12,000 pasture; the remainder consists of part of the Mourne mountains.

The only creek in the twelve miles of coast that bounds the parish is Annalong, where a small dock for fishing vessels has been excavated out of a rock.

An abortive attempt was made to open a small harbour for the town, by cutting through the bar across the mouth of the Kilkeel river; and at present the only creek in a long range of adjacent coast where even fishing vessels can obtain shelter, is at Annalong, five miles north of Kilkeel.

A nearer and better harbour, however, was a few years ago officially recommended to be formed at Greencastle.

There are coastguard stations at ANNALONG, Cranfield, and Leestone, all in the district of Newcastle; also a constabulary police station.

The Square, Kilkeel (Image: William Alfred Green)

Fairs are held on February 8th, May 3rd, August 2nd, and December 8th; and a manorial court is held in the sessions-house at Kilkeel, once in three weeks, for the manor of Greencastle and Mourne, by a seneschal appointed by the Earl of Kilmorey: its jurisdiction extends over the whole of the barony of Mourne, which is co-extensive with this parish, and is the property of his lordship, and pleas to the amount of £10 are determined either by attachment or civil bill.

The principal seats are MOURNE PARK, the splendid residence of the earl; and Shannon Grove.

The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Down, united in 1809, by charter of JAMES I, to the rectories of Kilcoo and Kilmegan, and the chapelry of Tamlaght (a small townland in Kilkeel), together forming the union of Kilkeel and the corps of the treasurership of Down Cathedral, in the alternate patronage of the Marquess of Anglesey and the Earl of Kilmorey.

The church was rebuilt in 1815, at a cost exceeding £5,000, raised partly by parochial assessment, and donations from the landed proprietors, and partly by a loan of £2,160 from the Board of First Fruits.

The glebe house is situated on a glebe of 30 acres, valued at £37 10s per annum, but subject to a rent of £19 7s 9d, payable to the Earl of Kilmorey.

In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish forms two districts, called Upper and Lower Mourne; for former containing a chapel at Ballymageogh; the latter, one at Glassdrumman and one at Ballymartin.

There are two Presbyterian meeting-houses; also meeting-houses for Methodists, Baptists, and Moravians.

Of the various schools, Needham Thompson built the school at Mullartown; and that for girls, at Ballinahatten, was built by the Rev J F Close.

The union workhouse, on a site of 7¾ acres, was completed in 1841, at an expense of £4,050, and is constructed to contain 900 paupers.

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