Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary, Ireland

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Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary Ireland comprises of several counties, cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland.

  • Place
    Diocese of Connor
  • County
    Antrim, Down, Londonderry
  • Parish
  • Content
    A religious establishment was founded here at an early period, of which little beyond the names of some of its abbots is now known. The first bishop was Angus Macnisius, commonly called St. Macnise, who died soon after the commencement of the sixth century : he is said to have been a disciple of St. Olcan, who was one of St. Patrick's pupils. Connor appears anciently to have been called "Dailnaraigh," from its cathedral being in the territory of Dalaradia. In 1124, Malachy O'Morgair was consecrated bishop. At this time, according to St. Bernard, the inhabitants of the diocese were very. uncivilized ; but by a few years residence among them, St. Malachy wrought as great a change in their morals as was expected by St. Patrick In the fifth century.

    By the solicitations of John, Bishop of Connor, Pope Eugene IV. was prevailed upon, in 1442, to unite the bishopricks of Down and Connor, the former being then vacant by the deprivation of John Cely. This union bad been approved by letters patent of Hen. IV,, in l 438, when the bishops of the two sees were desirous that the survivor should have both ; but when it was effected the union was strongly opposed by John Prene, Archbishop of Armagh, who wished the pope to appoint William Bassett, a Benedictine monk, to the bishoprics of Down. The union has, however, continued without interruption since that period, and the subsequent history of the diocese of Connor is included in that of Down and Connor. By the Church Temporalities Act (3rd of Wm. IV.) the see of Dromore is to be united with Down and Connor, on the death or translation of either of the bishops ; and the title of the united sees is to be the Bishoprics of Down, Connor, and Dromore.

    The diocese is one of the ten which constitute the ecclesiastical province of Armagh : it comprehends parts of the counties of Down and Londonderry, and the greater part of that of Antrim, containing an estimate superficies of 395,500 acres of which 3700 are in Down; 9400 in Londonderry, and 382,400 in Antrim. The cathedral establishment appears to have been rebounded by patents of the 7th of Jas. I. (1610), which ordained that the church should be called the church of St. Saviour, Connor, and that the chapter should consist of a dean, archdeacon, chancellor, precentor, and treasurer, and the four prebendaries of Connor, Cairn-castle, Rasharkin, and Kilroot. There are no canons or vicars choral, and neither the dignitaries nor prebendaries have any ecclesiastical duties to perform in respect of their offices. Chas. II., by letters patent in 1663, constituted the church of Lisburn the cathedral for the united dioceses, both the old cathedrals being then in ruins ; but, in 1190, an act was passed for the restoration of Down cathedral at Downpatrick. Lisburn church, however, is still used as the cathedral for the bishoprics of Connor : there is no economy fund connected with it, but the building is in a good and sound state, and has hitherto been kept in repair by the parishioners. The extent of see lands is 6411 profitable acres, and tire gross yearly income of the bishoprick, on all average of three years ending Dec. 3lst, 1831 amounted to £3065. 3s. 4 .75 d. The consistorial court is the same as for that of Down, and is held at Lisburn, where the records of the united dioceses are preserved.

    The diocesan school, which was originally established at Carrickfergus, was removed to Ballymena in 1829, when a consolidation was made of part of the diocese of Armagh and the whole of that of Connor, under the act of the 3rd of Geo. IV.; and an acre of land was given by William Adair, Esq., on which the school-house was erected, in 1830, at an expense of £900. The master, who is allowed to receive boarders, is nominated alternately by the Archbishop of Armagh and the Bishop of Down and Connor : the emoluments, which are small, are contributed by the bishops and beneficed clergy of both dioceses. The number of parishes in the diocese is 79, exclusively of 6 without cure of souls ; they are included in 47 benefices, of which, 2 are in the patronage of the Crown, 1 in that of tile Lord-primate, 21 in that of the Bishop, and 15 in lay patronage ; the remainder are perpetual or district curacies, in the gift of the respective incumbents of benefices out of which they were formed. The number of churches is 57, besides eight other places of worship, and of glebehouses, 30.

    In the R. C. divisions this diocese is united as in the Established Church, forming the bishoprics of Down and Connor, in which are 21 parochial unions or districts, containing 45 chapels served by 31 clergymen, 21 of whom are parish priests, and 10 coadjutors or curates. The cathedral is an elegant edifice in the town of Belfast, and is used as one of the parochial chapels. Belfast is also the residence of the R. C. Bishop.
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