Drumbeg and District Residents' Association


Has anyone got photos of old Drumbeg, of church activities, school events like the Jubilee celebrations, historic buildings like the dyeworks and its pond, the shops, the pub in its previous life, etc? We would like to borrow them so that we can add to the portion of the site devoted to Old Drumbeg.

Topographical History of Drumbeg
'History of Co. Down’ by A Knox.
Bishop Jeremy and Haddock’s ghost
Gordon’s Execution
Glowing ball

The Ulster Star 27 Jan 1962
- report on Drumbeg


A Glimpse of Drumbeg 1750-1800 by Eileen Black http://www.lisburn.com/books/historical_society/volume7/volume7_1.html


From Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837 page 511 by Samuel Lewis

Drumbeg, a parish, partly in the barony of Upper Belfast, county of Antrim, but chiefly in that of Upper Castlereagh, county of Down, and province of Ulster, ¾ of a mile (N.E.) from Lisburn, on the road to Belfast; containing 2883 inhabitants. According to the Ordnance survey it comprised 2704¾ acres, of which 1186¾ were in Down and 1518 in Antrim; of these 2627 were applotted under the tithe act, and valued at £3367 per ann. : but a portion of the parish of Drumboe having been lately added to it under the Church Temporalities Act, it now comprises 6868 acres. The soil differs greatly in quality, from a sandy loam to a stiff clay but is very fertile. The Lagan navigation from Belfast to Lough Neagh passes through the parish. The principal seats, besides those noticed under the head of Dunmurry, are Glenburn, the residence of F. Crossley Esq.; Wilmont, unoccupied; Finaghey, of J. Charley, Esq.; Larkfield, of Henderson Black, Esq.; Drumbeg Rectory, of the Rev J.L.M. Scott; Drum House, of W. H. Smyth, Esq.; and Belvidere Cottage, a neat and commodious residence, lately built on the property of A. Durham, Esq. Ballydrain, the beautiful demesne of Hugh Montgomery, Esq., though not in this parish, is within 200 yards of the church, and with the adjoining grounds of Lakefield, the residence of Miss Richardson, and Lismoyne, of Mrs. Callwell, presents one of the finest landscapes in the neighbourhood of Belfast. A court leet and court baron are held every third week at Four Lane Ends, for the manor Drumbracklin, by a seneschal appointed by Narcissus Batt, Esq., lord of the manor with jurisdiction for recovery of debts under £20, extending over the townlands of Doneight and Lisnoe in the parish of Hillsborough, Ballyaulis in this parish, and Ballycairn, Ballylesson, Molough, and Knockbreccan in Drumboe. The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Down and in the gift of the Bishop; a part of the rectorial tithes is impropriate in W. Charley, A Durham, and Narcissus Batt, Esqrs., as lessees under the Marquess of Donegal. The tithes now amount to £336. 16. 6., of which £94. 13. 6 ½ is payable to the improriators, and remainder to the incumbent: the glebe-house was built in 1826, by a gift of £415 and a loan of £46 (British) from the late Board of First Fruits, exclusively of £450 expended by the incumbent in building and improvements; the glebe comprises eight statute acres. The church was rebuilt by subscription in 1795, by aid of a gift of £461 (British) from the same Board: it has a tower surmounted by a spire, which having been blown down in 1831, was rebuilt at the expense of J. Charley, Esq. About 300 children are educated in five public schools, two of which are on Erasmus Smith’s foundation.

From Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837 page 511 by Samuel Lewis

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Recollections of the Parish of Drumbeg, Diocese of Down by Matthew Neill

In the ‘History of Co. Down’ by A Knox.

The parish is described like this
The Church of Drumnow, now the parish of Drumbeg, derives its name from the Irish, Druin beag, a little ridge. Part of this parish is in the Country of Antrim but the County Down portion contains a population of 2,444 persons, the total inhabitants amounting to 3,627.
A part of the ancient manor of Drumbrackan, or Downbreaklyn was in this parish, the remainder being in the parishes of Hillsborough and Drumbo. Drumbeg, from being intersected by the river Lagan, was sometimes called 'Drom in the Lagan'. Hugh, the second Lord Viscount Montgomery, in 1639, granted in trust for his brother, Captain George Montgomery, the manor of Downbreaklyn, and all the 'townes', lands and hereditaments, thereto belonging, with the power to hold Courts leet, and baron, of the said manor, with all the usual appurtenances of castle, houses, fishings, etc. George Montgomery built a house at Drumbrackley where he resided. He was called by ‘ye agnomen of Kinnshoker, Anglice, hawk head, from Ceann, a head, and Scabhae, pronounced showak, a hawk'* . He was buried at Newtownards.
In more recent times the courts leet and courts baron were held at Four Loan Ends, the appointments of officers being made (by Mr Batt of Purdy's Burn, into whose possession the manor had passed by purchase. The church of Drum corresponds principally with the modern parish of Drumbeg.
Pages 17-18.

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BISHOP JEREMY TAYLOR & HADDOCK’S GHOST

About four and a half miles south of the city of Belfast is situated Drumbeg Church, dedicated to St. Patrick, with an adjoining churchyard which contains numerous tombstones dating back to the seventeenth century. The stone in the graveyard that excites the most interest and curiosity is the one James Haddock, and by it hangs the tale of Haddock's Ghost.

This is no mythical spirit, but a thoroughly reliable well authenticated ghost, according to those of his time who had every right to know, for they enjoyed full opportunities of inquiry as to his nature and doings. Regards its historic foundation, every date is correct. The story of 1662 tells of the death of James Haddock five years before, which date 1657, is found on his tombstone in the graveyard.

Closely associated with this anecdote is the person of Jeremy Taylor, who was Bishop of Down and Connor from the time of the Restoration till his death in 1667, Taylor was born in Cambridge in 1613 after a brilliant scholastic career he obtained degrees at both Cambridge and Oxford. He was elected Fellow of All Souls College in 1636, and became Rector of Uppingham two years later. He made such a favourable impression while preaching in old St. Paul's that he soon gained promotion under the influence of Archbishop Laud. For twenty years following 1640, he preached many noteworthy sermons and published numerous writings of a doctrinal nature.

It was for religious reasons that Lord Conway, who lived near Lisburn, persuaded Jeremy Taylor to come over to Ireland. Under Cromwell, Puritanism had been made triumphant, but the pendulum was beginning to swing back, and England was preparing for the Restoration. The state of the Established Church had become so degraded that Lord Conway was resolved that some interest in the old ritual should be revived. He therefore wrote to Evelyn the diarist, who in reply recommended very strongly Dr. Jeremy Taylor. Only after he had been approached for the third time, and after Conway had secured the 'purchase of land at great vantage' did Taylor accept the office of chaplain to his family, and so eventually exchanged the streets of London for the quiet seclusion of Lord Conway’s estate at Portmore.

This spot is practically ignored by visitors, its very site hardly known by the antiquarians, but in Jeremy Taylor’s time it was the most magnificent mansion in Ulster, situated on the eastern shore of Lough Beg (or Portmore Lough), not far from Lough Neagh. Portmore was not only a noble residence, it was a fortress garrisoned against the Tories of the West, where now the eye perceives nothing but a low harsh horizon of grazing land to the north and east. In Lord Conway’s time there was a large deer park of oak trees and probably a bridge connected Portmore to the church in which Jeremy Taylor habitually officiated.

The church stands on an artificial island in the marshes, with a shallow moat around it. The remaining fragments are heavily covered with ivy, while here and there are seen a few cypresses, relics of the Italian gardens of Portmore; but in this place there has long ceased to be heard any sound other than the cries of wild fowl. From near here the old fragmentary brickwork of Conway’s castle is best visible, and imagination may rebuild the vision as Jeremy Taylor saw it when he saw it in 1658, costly and elaborate, with its upper windows looking towards the sunset over Portmore, with the vast expanse of Lough Neagh beyond.

Tradition has it that the little Sallagh island (isle of willows) which lies a few hundred yards out in Lough Beg, directly north of Portmore, contained a study where Jeremy Taylor loved to meditate: at present Sallagh Island is a tangled mass of oisers and bulrushes and is almost unapproachable except in dry weather.

Jeremy Taylor was nominated Bishop of Down and Connor in 1660. His headquarters when he took up the labour of his diocese was Hillsborough. Dromore, with which he was closely associated has little that remains except the double arched ridge over the Lagan and a certain amount of basalt masonry of the church he built in 1661, Taylor has been placed among the four masters of the English language (Shakespeare, Milton, Bacon and Taylor) in the first half of the seventeenth century, and towards the latter years of his life he was recognised as the finest orator in Ireland, and was indispensable upon great occasions.

At the time of the story of Haddock's ghost, the worthy Bishop was approaching his end. He had commenced to build his tomb in Ballinderry, for the agues of the lough shore, and the howling of the wolves in the neighbourhood had told upon his nerves and health. Portmore itself had grown uncanny and the Bishop had unroofed the old church and dismantled it of its oak fittings, in order to build in Ballinderry a really pretty specimen of belated Jacobean church architecture. This was restored in 1902 and is the most interesting personal relic of Jeremy Taylor which exists in Ireland. In the latter part of his life Jeremy Taylor resided at Homra House, a solitary little mansion two miles to the east of Hillsborough, and just off the road to Comber. He died on the 13th August 1667 at his house in Lisburn (site of present No. 13 Castle Street) at the age of 54, and as his new church in Ballinderry had not then been consecrated, his last words were 'bury me at Dromore' the vault containing his remains is now in the body of the Cathedral Church in that town.

If 1661 was a full year in the history of Jeremy Taylor, 1662 was marked only by anecdotes.

Late on the night of Michaelmas a porter to the Earl of Donegall, called Francis Taverner, who had been at Hillsborough, was riding to his home at Malone. He was described as a 'lusty, proper stout fellow' about 25 years of age, and when he came to the Drum bridge which crosses the Lagan at Drumbeg, at the foot of the bridge his horse stopped suddenly: Taverner, dismounting urged his horse forward, and as he started again, was aware of two shadowy horsemen who rode beside him; at the same moment a third man in a white coat, was at his elbow, and turning Taverner perceived that this resembled James Haddock who had died five years before.

Taverner asked the apparition who in the name of God he was. Haddock told him his name and bade him not to be reminding him of a trivial circumstance, how Taverner had brought nuts to Haddock and to the two friends who were now riding on before them; at the four cross roads, Dunmurry to Lismoyne, the ghost desired the young man to turn aside with him, pleading with him to do a service in regard to the putting aside of his son from his heritage, but Taverner would not, and galloping on left them there; whereupon there arose a great wind and withal he heard very hideous screeches and noises to his amazement. Presently morning broke, the cocks crew, and slipping off his horse, Taverner knelt in prayer to God and so came safely to his home near Belfast.

Next night as he sat by the fire with his wife, the ghost of Haddock appeared to him again. The reason for these visitations was the desire for the welfare of his son, John Haddock. James Haddock a farmer of Malone died in 1657, leaving behind him his wife Arminell (Welsh) whose name is also on the tombstone, and a son John. Before his death he had arranged for a lease of his lands from Lord Donegall, his son's name to go into it with his own. Unfortunately, Haddock died before the lease was completed. His widow then married one, Jacob Davis of Malone, and by him had another son whose name his father got inserted in the lease, doubtless with Arminell's assistance, thus ousting the young Haddock from his patrimony. Haddock's ghost bade Taverner tell her that it was the will of her former husband that their son should be righted in this lease.

Taverner resisted the appeals of the unearthly Haddock who, however, haunted him night after night for a whole month, more and more importunate and angry, sometimes at the fireside and again whilst he was in bed, James Haddock appearing in a white coat, was never visible to Taverner's wife, although she was a terrified witness to her husband's agitation, for these visits were preceded by a shivering fit and a change in his countenance. To escape these visitations, Taverner left his home in the hills of Malone, and took refuge with Pierce, a shoemaker in Belfast, but all in vain. There at midnight he was again visited and threatened with awful happenings if he would not visit Arminell Davis and upbraid her with the wrong done to the young John Haddock.

Taverner then unfolded his troubles at the castle to his lordship’s chaplain, James South, who took him to the vicar of Belfast, Dr. Lewis Downes, and satisfied him of the truth of his case.

These three eventually carried the apparition's message to Malone, but the shameless and hardened Davis refused to surrender the lease, whereupon the apparition bade Taverner take the matter to court, where it would appear when summoned.

Francis had spoken to the ghost of the futility of such proceedings, as he had no witnesses. 'Never mind' said the ghost, 'I will be present and appear when called upon'.

The case accordingly came on at Carrickfergus, to establish young Haddock's right to his father's estate. For the boy there was but one witness. The opposing council abused Taverner and taunted him to call his spiritual witness if he were able. 'James Haddock!' cried the usher, 'James Haddock! 'James Haddock!' each time with a higher inflection. At the third summons a clap of thunder made the courthouse tremble to its base, a hand hovered over the witness box and a sepulchral voice exclaimed 'Is this enough?' and it was.

Jacob Davis slunk away amidst popular jeers, mounting his horse to ride home, but he fell by the way and broke his neck. After this the servant at large, Francis Taverner, was never more disturbed by ghostly apparitions either at the Drum bridge or elsewhere.

The story gradually filled the whole countryside and, finally reached the celebrated Bishop (Dr Jeremy Taylor) who was holding his court at Dromore. Jeremy Taylor sent for Taverner and other witnesses and held an inquiry into what he called 'this strange scene of Providence' and came to the conclusion that this was a genuine instance of the apparition of the souls of the dead. He investigated the case at Dromore and an adjournment was made to Hillsborough where, writes his secretary, 'my Lady Conway and other persons of quality came purposely to hear his Lordship examine the matter'. portion of haddock's gravestone showing lettering

About this, the only ghost who ever answered a summons in a court of justice, the bishop's secretary further records 'the apparition was true and real and this Taverner with all the persons mentioned and all wise and good men did believe it, especially the Bishop and the Dean of Connor, Dr. Rust'.

Probably with a view to its preservation, repeated efforts have been made to place Haddock's tombstone permanently in an upright position, but these attempts proved useless, for each time it has mysteriously fallen; and so it still lies flat on the family grave, almost overgrown with moss and long grass.

This story has been handed down in the district from generation to generation, yet all parishioners of Drumbeg may to-day pass and repass over the Drum bridge or the church of St. Patrick, without any fear whatever.

References :
English Men of Letters Series by Dimond Gosse M.A, relating to Jeremy Taylor in Ireland.
Sketch of Life & Times of Jeremy Taylor - George Worley.

For further reports www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/yourplaceandmine/topics/ghost/A856947.shtml

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Patrick Gordon

There used to be a gallows at Drum Bridge.

On the 17th April 1783 one Patrick Gordon was executed there for stealing linen from bleach greens in the area.


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Apparition in Drumbeg

A glowing ball of light has been seen dancing around the headstones. www.paranormaldatabase.com/ireland/ulster.php

In the 1970s it was reported that a ghostly lady with a child in her arms was seen on the Drum Bridge. www.paranormaldatabase.com/ireland/ulster.php

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