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Killinchy Parish (Castlereagh Lower portion), County Down


Ir. Cill Duinsí ‘Duinseach’s church’


The parish of Killinchy is mainly in the barony of Dufferin, but there are also two smaller portions in Castlereagh Upper and this portion in Castlereagh Lower, which contains five townlands.

The church of Killinchy is listed in the 1306 Papal Taxation as Ecclesia de Kilwyinchi, a name which Bishop Reeves explained as Cill Insi ‘church of the island’ (EA 10-11, 10n; O’Laverty I 347).  Reeves and O’Laverty followed the view of the local informant in the 1830s, Luke Killen.  However the w in the 1306 spelling indicates that this is too simple, and an anglicised spelling Kilduncy was recorded in 1427 (Reg. Swayne).  All the early Irish martyrologies recorded the name of the virgin saint Duinseach ‘brown girl’. The Martyrology of Tallaght commemorated her on Aug. 6th: Duissech for Loch Cuan ‘Duinseach near Strangford Lough’ (Mart. Tall. 60).  Three give her day as Dec. 11th, and remember she had three churches in east Ulster, Duinsech óg ó Chill Dúinsighe I nUltoibh, 7 atat tri cealla aice ann, Duinseach ‘from Cill Dhuinsí among the Ulaidh, and she has three churches there’ (Féil. Gorm. 236). Killinchy parish is the chief of these, and the others were at Killinchy in the Woods in Killyleagh and Dunsy Island in Strangford Lough, as elucidated by Art Hughes.  Although St Duinseach was no longer familiar to Luke Killen, a holy well called Dunsy Well was remembered in Kilclief parish in recent times (Hughes 1999).  The 1615 Terrier and several references in the 1623 Hamilton Inquisition call the parish church Killinchie-Nemaghrie ‘Killinchy in the plain’ (Ir. machaire) to distinguish it from Killinchie-Nekelly, Killinchy in the Woods.  The townland around the church site and village measures 555 acres.  Killinchy townland as well as the parish was listed in 1659, and it appears to have been referred to as Baile Dhuinsí ‘Duinseach’s townland’ in 1605-23.


KM, 2009

Additional Information

Other portions in Castlereagh Upper and Dufferin; see the townland of Killinchy for historical forms of this name.

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Castlereagh Lower
Parish in 1851
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