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Donaghcloney Parish, County Down


Ir. Domhnach Cluana ‘the church of the meadow’


Donaghcloney lies along the Lagan in the barony of Iveagh Lower, Upper Half. The parish is generally flat, Tullycarn 296 feet in the south-east and Cornreany 268 feet in the west being the most conspicuous hills (OSM xii 56a).  The present local informant was Mr E.F. Copeland of Blackskull, local historian, artist and poet.

The parish name is attested from 1422 in the registers of the Archbishops of Armagh, and in 1526 the prebend of Domnachclone was Cormac O'Shiegell, presumably one of the local family of O'Sheils whose name is preserved in Ballysheil townland, parish of Annaclone (Reg. Cromer 208).  In 1657 the parish was reckoned as nine towns and one sessiagh (Inq. Down 137), while the current number of townlands is 14.  The townland bearing the parish name was originally church land, held by the McBredan family of Magheralin (CPR Jas I 191a).  There is an excellent local history of the parish by E.D. Atkinson, whose appendix of sources includes the Donaghcloney Vestry Book, and the Clanconnell and Waring papers (Atkinson's Donaghcloney, 1898, 114-9,131-5).  

With part of the neighbouring parish of Tullylish it formed the territory of Clanconnell, held in 1609 by Glasney McAugholy Magennis (CPR Jas I 394b, 193a; Inq. Ult. (Down) §9 Car. I).  Eight modern townlands were included in Clanconnell: Annaghanoon, Banoge, Corcreeny, Magherana, Tullyherron, and, detached in the east, Lurgantamry, Monree, and Tullycarn.  Landholding in Clanconnell in the early 17th century was distinguished by land units grouped in threes, probably sessiaghs, although described in the patents etc. in the formula "the town of X with the hamlets of Y and Z".  Lurgantamry and its two divisions all became modern townlands but the subdivisions of the others have disappeared.   Petty's barony map of Lower Iveagh shows clearly that in the 17th century bog and wood must have provided physical boundaries between the different divisions.

The name Donaghcloney belongs to the parish, the townland which contained the parish church, and a village in the townland.  The parish church was moved in the 17th century to Waringstown, but ‘was formerly situated in the graveyard near Donaghcloney bridge’ (OSM xii 60a), beside which another church was built in 1894.   Atkinson explained the parish name from the site of the ancient church ‘on a slight eminence rising out of a water meadow on the right bank of the river Lagan’ (Atkinson’s Dromore, 194).  He then continued with an apparent citation of local tradition: ‘Here it is said that St Patrick himself, one Lord’s Day, traced out with his pastoral staff, the Bachall Jesu, the foundations’.  Certainly the term domhnach indicates an early church, as well as meaning the ‘Lord’s Day’, but the ruined foundations Atkinson described are not dated or mentioned in the archaeologial survey (ASCD). The village of Donaghcloney is beside the Lagan in the centre of the townland.  It is known as The Cloney locally, and has been ‘many’s a year’. 


Muhr, K. (1996): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 6 pp. 81-3.

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