Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary, Ireland

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

  • Place
    The See or Archdiocese of Armagh
  • County
  • Parish
  • Content
    The SEE of ARMAGH according to the common opinion of native historians, was founded by St. Patrick, who in that city built the cathedral and some other religious edifices, in 445. Three years after, he held a synod there, the canons of which are still in existence and in 454 he resigned the charge of the see (to which, on his recommendation, St. Binen was appointed), and spent the remainder of a life protracted to the patriarchal period of 120 years, in visiting and confirming the various churches which he had foundered, and in forming others. Prior to the year 799, the bishop of Armagh and his sufragan bishops were obliged to attend the royal army during the military expeditions of the king of Ireland; but on a remonstrance made by Conmach, then archbishop, the custom was discontinued. A tumult which broke out in the city, during the celebration of the feast of Pentecost, in 889, between the septs of Cinel-Eoghain, of county Tyrone, and Ulidia, of county Down, affords an instance of the great power exercised by the archbishops at this period. Moelbrigid, having succeeded in quelling the disturbance, mulcted each of the offending parties in a fine of 200 oxen, exacted hostages for their future good conduct, and caused six of the ringleaders on each side to be executed on a gallows.

    The commencement of the twelfth century was marked by a contest as to the right of the primacy, which had been monopolised during fifteen episcopal successions by a single princely tribe, as an hereditary right. "Eight married men," says St. Bernard, "literate indeed, but not ordained, had been predecessors to Celsus, on whose demise the election of Malachy O'Morgair to the primatial dignity, by the united voice of the clergy and people, put an end to the contest, though not without some struggles." Malachy resigned the primacy in 1137, and in lieu of it accepted the bishoprick of Down, which see he afterwards divided into two, reserving one to himself. His object seems to have resulted from a wish to procure leisure for a journey to Rome, with a view to prevail upon the pope to grant palls to the archbishops of Armagh and Cashel; but in this he was, on his first journey, disappointed, by being informed that so important a measure could only be conceded in pursuance of the suffrage of an Irish council. On making a second journey for the same purpose, he fell sick on the road, and died at the abbey of Clarevall, in the arms of his friend, St. Bernard. Nevertheless, this object was soon after accomplished, even to a greater extent than he had proposed. In 1152, Cardinal Paparo arrived in Ireland as legate from Pope Eugene III. with four palls for the four archbishops, to whom the other Irish bishops were subjected as suffragans. The following sees, several of which are now unknown even by name, were then placed under the provincial jurisdiction of the archbishop of Armagh; viz., Connor, Dumdaleghlas (now Down), Lugud, Cluaiuiard or Clonard, Connauas, Ardachad, (now Ardagh), Rathboth (now Raphoe), Rathlurig or Rathlure, Damliag, and Darrick (now Derry).

    The origin of a dispute between the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin, regarding their respective claims to the primatial authority of Ireland, may be traced to this period, in consequence of a papal bull of l182, which ordained that no archbishop or bishop should hold any assembly or hear ecclesiastical causes in the diocese of Dublin, unless authorised by the pope or his legate : but it was not until the following century that this dispute acquired a character of importance. The rank of the former of the prelates among the bishops of Christendom was determined at the council of Lyons, where, in the order of subscription to the acts, the name "Albertus Armachanus" preceded those of all the bishops of France, Italy, and Spain. In 1247, Archbishop Reginald or Rayner separated the county of Louth from the diocese of Clogher, and annexed it to Armagh. Indeed, before this act, the inadequacy of the revenue to maintain the dignity of the see occasioned Hen. III. to issue a mandate to the lord Justice of Ireland, to cause liberty of seisin to be given to the Archbishop of Armagh of all the lands belonging to the see of Clogher : but this writ was not carried into effect.

    In 1263, Pope Urban addressed a bull to Archbishop O'Scanlain, confirming him in the dignity of primate of all Ireland ; but the authenticity of the document has been disputed. This bull did not put an end to the contest about precedence with the Archbishop of Dublin, which was renewed between Lech, Archbishop of Dublin, and Walter Joyse or Joyce, then primate, whose brother and successor, Rowland, persevering in the claim, was resisted by Bicknor, Archbishop of Dublin, and violently driven out of Leinster, in 1313. Again, in 1337, Primate David O'Hiraghty was obstructed in his attendance on parliament by Bicknor and his clergy, who would not permit him to have his rosier borne erect before him in the diocese of Dublin, although the king had expressly forbidden Bicknor to offer him any opposition. In 1349 Bicknor once more contested the point with Fitz-Ralph, Archbishop of Armagh; and, not-withstanding the kings confirmation of the right of the latter to erect his crosier in any part of Ireland, the lord justice and the prior of Kilmainham, being bribed, as is supposed, by Bicknor, combined with that prelate in opposing the claims of the primate, who thereupon excommunicated the resisting parties. Shortly after both Bicknor and the prior died ; and the lanter on his death-bed, solicited Fitz-Ralph's forgiveness through a special messenger. After his decease, his body was refused Christian burial, until absolved by the primate in consequence of his contrition. In 1350, the king, through partiality to John de St. Paul, then Archbishop of Dublin, revoked his letter to Fitz-Ralph, and prohibited him from exercising his episcopal functions in the province of Dublin; and, in 1353, Pope Innocent VI. decided that Armagh and Dublin should be both primatial sees ; the occupant of the former to be styled Primate of all Ireland, and of the latter, Primate of Ireland. In 1365, the Archbishops Milo Sweetman and Thomas Minot renewed the controversy, which, after that period, was suffered to lie dormant till Richard Talent, Archbishop of Dublin, prevented Primate Swain from attending his duty in five successive parliaments held in 1429, 1435, and the three following years. Primates Key and Prene experienced similar opposition ; but after the decease of Talbot, in 1449, their successors enjoyed their rights undisturbed till 1533, when John Alen, Archbishop of Dublin, revived the contest with Primate Cromer, but seemingly without success.

    Edw. VI. divested Archbishop Dowdall of the primacy, in 1551, in order to confer it on George Browne, Archbishop of Dublin, as a reward for his advocacy of the Reformation ; but on the same principle the right was restored to Dowdall on the accession of Mary. In 1693, Launcelot Bulkeley revived the contest with Primate Hampton, and continued it against his successor, the distinguished Ussher, in whose favour it was decided by the Earl of Strafford, then lord-deputy, in 1634.

    At the commencement of the Reformation, Primate Cromer was inflexible in his determination to oppose its introduction into the Irish church ; and on his death, in 1542, his example was followed by his successor, Dowdall, who, after the accession of Edw. VI., maintained a controversy on the disputed points with Staples Bishop of Meath, in which both parties claimed the victory. The English government, anding him determined in his opposition to the new arrangements, issued a mandate rendering his see subordinate to that of Dublin, which caused Dowdall to quit the country and take refuge on the continent. The king, deeming this act a virtual resignation of the see, appointed Hugh Goodacre his successor ; but Dowdall was restored by Queen Mary, and held the see till his death in 1558, the year in which his protectress also died. Notwithstanding the ecclesiastical superiority of the see of Armagh over that of Dublin, the income of the latter was so much greater, that Adam Loftus, who had been appointed Archbishop of Armagh on the death of Dowdall, was removed a few years after to Dublin, as being more lucrative : he was only 28 years of age on his first elevation, being the youngest primate of all Ireland upon record, except Celsus.

    In 1614-15, a regnant of the episcopal property of Armagh, together with a large additional tract of land, accruing from the forfeited estates of the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel, was made to Primate Hampton. His immediate successor was the celebrated James Ussher, during whose primacy Chas. I. endowed anew the college of vicars choral in the cathedral, by patent granted in 1635, by which he bestowed on them various tracts of land, the property of the dissolved Culdean priory. Ussher was succeeded by Dr. Bramhall, a man also of great learning and mental powers, who was appointed by Chas. II. immediately after the Restoration. Dr. Lindsay, who was enthroned in 1713, endowed the vicars choral and singing boys with £200 per annum out of lands in the county of Down, and also procured for them a new charter. In 1720. Dr. Boulder, will was translated from the see of Bristol to that of Armagh, on the death of Lindsay in 1724, is known only as a political character ; a collection of his letters is extant. He was succeeded by Dr. Hoadly, translated from Dublin, who published some sermons and other works ; and the latter by Dr. Stone, also an active participator in the political events of the time. his successor was Dr. Robinson, Bishop of Kildare, and after his translation created Baron Rokeby, of Armagh, whose history may be best learned in the contemplation of the city over which he presided, raised by his continued munificence from extreme decay to a state of opulence and respectability, and embellished with various useful public Institutions, worthy of its position among the principal cities of Ireland ; and from the pastoral care evinced by him in an eminent degree in the erection of numerous parochial and district churches for new parishes and incumbencies, to which he annexed glebes and glebe-houses, and in promoting the spiritual concerns of his diocese.

    Of the R. C. archbishops, since the Reformation, but little connected with the localities of the see is known. Robert Wauchope, a Scotchman, who had been appointed by the pope during the lifetime of Dowdall, may rightly be considered the first ; for Dowdall, though a zealous adherent to the doctrines of the Church of Rome, had been appointed solely by the authority of Hen. VIII. Peter Lombard, who was appointed in 1594, is known in the literary and political circles by his commentary on Ireland, for which a prosecution was instituted against him by Lord Strafford, but was terminated by Lombard's death at Rome, in 1625, or the year following. Hugh M'Caghwell, his successor, was a man of singular piety and learning, an acute metaphysician, and profoundly skilled in every branch of scholastic philosophy : a monument was erected to his memory by the Earl of Tyrone. Oliver Plunket, appointed in 1669, obtained distinction by his defence of the primatial rights against Talbot, Arch-bishop of Dublin ; but his prosecution and death for high treason, on a charge of favouring a plot for betraying Ireland to France, have rendered his name still more known. Hugh McMahon, of the county Monaghan family of that name, was appointed in 1708 : his great work is the defence of the primatial rights, entitled ‘Jus Primitiale Armacanum;' which he is said to have exhausted the subject.

    The Archbishoprick, or Ecclesiastical Province of Armagh comprehends the ten dioceses of Armagh, Clogher, Meath, Down, Connor; Derry, Raphoe, Kilmore, Dromore, and Ardagh, which are estimated to contain a superficies of 4,319,250 acres, and comprises within its limits the whole of the civil province of Ulster ; the counties of Longford, Louth, Meath, and Westmeath, and parts of the King's and Queen's counties, in the province of Leinster ; and parts of the counties of Leitrim, Roscommon, and Sligo, in the province of Connaught. The archbishop, who is primate and metropolitan of all Ireland, presides over the province, and exercises all episcopal jurisdiction within his own diocese ; and the see of Down being united to that of Connor, and that of Ardagh to the archiepiscopal see of Tuam, seven bishops preside over the respective dioceses, and are suffragan to the Lord-Primate. Under the Church Temporalities' Act of the 3rd of Wm. IV., the archiepiscopal jurisdiction of the province of Tuam will become extinct on the death of the present arch-bishop, and the dioceses now included in it will be suffragan to Armagh.