Magheragall Parish Church

A brief history of Magheragall

Christianity in Magheragall goes back to very ancient times, and in the Middle Ages the Parish appears in the Taxation Roll under the original name of 'Drumcale' in 1306.

The name 'Magheragall' is sometimes translated as meaning 'The field of the stranger'.

The earliest Church of which there is record was about a mile further towards Ballinderry than the present Church, at Brookhill - (where the Farm Museum is today) - but this Church was burned down in 1641 when Con Magennis and Phelim O'Neill were fleeing from their defeat at Lisburn.

In 1676 a replacement Church was built on the present site of today's Church. This Church is believed to have been of a similar design to the present Middle Church in Ballinderry. Evidence for the existence of this Church of 1676 is to be found in the dates on the tombstones in the Churchyard.

In the early 1800's there was a need to provide a new Church - so the present Church was begun in June 1830, and consecrated by Bishop Mant, the hymn writer, on 2nd June 1831. It cost 1,000 to build.

INTERESTING COMMENTS:

  • The Organ: There was no musical instrument in the Church until after 1863 - previously a precentor with a tuning fork lead the singing. First a harmonium was provided. Then the organ (built in 1847) was brought from St. Patrick's Church, Coleraine in 1875. When it first came it was installed in the gallery in our Church.
  • The First World War Marble Memorial: An appeal for subscriptions for erecting the original memorial said "A large sum of money will be needed, say 120, to erect the Tablet, a Roll of Honour, and renovate and improve the Organ".
  • The Bell: It is believed to be the oldest Church bell in County Antrim, having called people to worship since it was cast in 1676.
  • The Chalice:(Communion Cup) The chalice bears the date of 1705. A flagon and two Patens (communion silver) bear the date 1769.
  • The Baptismal Font: Bears the date 1771 and was probably used in the former Church on this site. A new pedestal has since been added to it.
  • The Long-handled Copper Collecting Alms Dishes: These are now attached to the wall behind the Baptismal Font, and they probably belonged to the former Church on this site.
  • The Hymn Boards: One of the Hymn Boards is made from a portion of the original oak beams from the roof of the Church of 1676, and was presented by Mr. Joseph Turkington, School Master, in 1924.
  • The Chancel: Originally the Church did not have a Chancel. A new Chancel was added to the Church in 1898. At that same time the stained glass East Window was installed, also the 'Mockler' Tablet.
  • The Mockler Tablet: This is on the South Wall of the Chancel, and was erected in memory of the Rev. and Mrs. Mockler. He was Rector of Magheragall for thirty years,from 1863 to 1893.

  • The Pews: In 1906 the Church was completely renovated and given new seating.
  • The Tower Clock: This clock was presented in 1906 by Mrs. Richardson and her family of Springfield. A plaque commemorating this is to be found in the Church Porch. The clock was restored during the ministry of Canon James Musgrave, and is illuminated at night. When the clock chimes 'the hour' it does so in a very muted fashion - said to be muted so as not to cause night-time disturbance to the original donors at Springfield.
  • Lectern:(Reading Desk) Presented in October 1945, a gift from the Parish of Groomsport. Before this, there was no Lectern in the Church, the Scripture Lessons being read from the Prayer Desk - except that during the 1939 - 1945 War a brass Lectern in the form of an eagle was brought to the Church for safe keeping from a blitzed Church in Belfast.
  • Electricity: When a supply of electricity came to the district the Select Vestry decided to install electricity in the Church, the Rectory, the School Master's house, and the Sexton's house at a cost of over 500. The electricity installation in the Church was dedicated on Sunday 18th November 1951.
  • Sexton: A former Sexton was a woman called Ellen Larmour. She smoked a clay pipe.
  • The Rectory: At one time a small, thatched cottage, to the left of the steps up to the Church door, in an area which is today church-yard, served as the Rectory. This same thatched cottage also at one time served as the local Post Office.
  • Herbert Hamilton Harty is acknowledged as a most distinguished Irish musician and composer. As a boy he was first appointed as an organist by the Select Vestry of this Church. He presided at the organ of this parish Church for a period of time.
  • The Rev. Canon W. H. Dundas had the longest single ministry in this Parish in the twentieth century. He was Rector from 1907 until 1940. He was a great scholar, though in later years blindness became a great handicap to him. He had the satisfaction of seeing through the centenary celebrations in 1931 before total blindness overtook him. Despite his blindness, he continued as Rector, and had the assistance of Church Army Captains and Cadets.
  • In the years since 1941 the Parish has been served by The Rev. A. V. McCallin, The Rev. R. D. Wright, The Rev. Canon J. R. Musgrave, The Rev. R. T. McKnight, The Rev. Canon G. A. Cheevers, and the present Rector, The Rev. Nicholas Dark who became Rector in January 2005
  • The external stonework of the Church was restored, and where necessary renewed, in 1993. From 1990 to 1999 the Parish spent over 400,000 restoring the Church, the Rectory, and extending and restoring the Parish Hall.



  • If you have any information regarding the history of Magheragall Parish Church e-mail us here.

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