Saint Patrick's Church at Drumbeg - widely known for its Lych-Gate
St. Patrick's Church of Ireland in Drumbeg is one of the
best known landmarks of rural Belfast, due to the unusual
stylish inclusion of the Lych Gate. It isn't known when
the first church was built on on this site but there was
certainly a Mediaeval Church dating back to 13th Century.
The site has been used by the Church of Ireland as a place
of worship since the mid 1600s. The church we see today
dates back to 1870. Behind the church in the graveyard
you can still see the remainder of walls from the original
Rev Ray Devenney
Reverend Ray Devenney has been at St Patrick's since
they year 2000 and loves the place. He says "here
in the pastoral beauty of the Lagan Valley, surrounded
by woodland and rose gardens, you feel like you're a
hundred miles away from Belfast."
Michael McNamee went to Drumbeg to examine the
headstones, tombs & memorials around the church and its
grounds, with the help of William Roulston (Ulster
Historical Foundation) and the Rev. Ray Devenney.
Matt Neill has been around this church all his life. He was
baptised at the font in this church in 1919. and he was married
here in 1943. His grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles,
brothers and sister are buried here in the churchyard. He
has been close to this church all of his life and was its
sexton for 30 years. Matt feels that during that time he grew
to know every headstone around the graveyard like an "old
friend". He tells us a story about one particular gravestone
which, rather than standing upright, lies almost flat to the
ground. It is that of James
Haddock who is said to have 'died leaving his affairs
unfinished'. Shortly after his death his will was tampered
with, depriving his son of his inheritance and the story goes
that James Haddock made various appearances and forced a court
hearing to review the execution of his will. Matt explains
As well as featuring grandiose memorials to
some of the wealthiest and most influential industrialists
of the greater Belfast area, there are also simple headstones
to foreigners such as the one commemorating two Norwegian
Seamen who were killed in an accident in the Belfast docks.
|On the left and right above: the burial
place for members of the McCance family and the Charley
family who were major figures in industry and commerce
in Belfast in the 1700s and 1800s. In the middle, a simple
cross in memory of two Norwegian sailors, Brö Hellstrom
and Diva Mustonen, who were killed in a dockyard accident
Eileen Black of the Art Department at the Ulster Museum talks
more about the McCance family who once owned several bleach
greens and linen mills around Dunmurry. One of the better
known figures is John McCance (1772-1835) who lived in Suffolk
House. As well as his interest in the Linen industry he was
also a banker and ended up as chairman of "The Northern
Bank" in 1824. Eileen explains to us how this churchyard
became the resting place for the wealthy influential people
William Roulston mentions various other headstones of historical
interest, including a memorial stone to one William Stewart
who died in the 1641 rebellion...
Moving inside the cruciform
styled church it is somewhat smaller than it appears
from the outside. On every wall there are monuments
in memory of those who died in just about every war
over the past 150 years.
One brass plaque with a family crest on top reads:
Sacred to the Memory of
Major J.F.W. Charley
2nd in Command of the 27th Royal Inniskilling
who fell at the Battle of Colenso, 15th December
Eldest son of the late John S.Charley of Finaghy
In loving memory this tablet is erected by
his Mother, Brother and Sisters
in this Church where his forefathers worshipped
His comrades said of him “A man whom it
was good to know”
There are also memorials, beautifully crafted in stained
glass. One is to Sir Hugh Montgomery who died at the
Battle of Balaclava, during the famous Charge of the
Matt Neill recounts how, during the war years, this little
church was filled to bursting with United States servicemen.
He says that "The Star Spangled Banner" was sung
on quite a few occasions. He comments on the peaceful ambience
of the church and remarks that even a platoon of boisterous
young American soldiers would have fallen into a hush upon
entering. Matt says that whatever we thought of them, it was
hard to condemn them for their sometimes brash behaviour as
they were all bound for the Normandy beaches, most of them
never to return...
Mrs Anne Glenn - July '08
I attended an Art Exhibition of Paintings at your church on
Saturday 24th May, 2008 and was very interested in a Painting
by Phyllis Wilson called Poppies No. 117.
I spoke to the gentleman at the reception desk on the day
and left my name and phone number with him to ask the lady
to contact me regarding this painting. I have not heard from
Would you please be good enough to find out the ladies telephone
number for me and I will ring her.
Colin McKee - June '08
Mary Nov 06
I am still intrested in contacting this person with reference
to the Jackson Family.
I am the Grandson of Harold Jackson brother of Sidney buried
in Drumbeg Grave Yard
Jacqui Bruce - Jan '08
My paternal grandfather Alexander William Bruce is buried
here, along with his family I think who were Violet May (mother)
- brothers Harold and Herbert and sisters Lillian and Violet.
He was born in 1906 and died at the age of 36. I would be
greatful if anyone knew the family to get in touch. Alexander,
my great grandfather was a gardener, possibly conected to
Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park and my grandfather worked for
the Anderson and McAuley family (of the department store fame!)
and lived in Dumurry Lane Can anyone help??
Roy Dutton - Jan '07
Do you have a "Balaclava2 stained glass widow in the
Hon James Stewart Edwards -
On September, 14th 2006 I visited St Patrick's churchyard,
but was not able to enter. I did manage to view the Stewart
stones on the external wall of the vestry. I am descended
from the Irish Stewart family who were instrumental in building
the church in the early 1600s. The last of the family bearing
the Stewart name came to Canada in 1822. There are over a
thousand descendants now living in Canada and the USA, all
of us the progeny of Hon Thomas Alexander Stewart and Frances
Browne Stewart. I would be interested in hearing from any
descendants of the Ballydrain or Wilmont Stewarts still living
Mary - Nov '06
I am currently researching my family history. My great uncle
Sidney Jackson is buried here. Sidney was one of the Jackson
brothers well known in cricket and rugby in the 1920s and
Sidney was survived by 3 daughters. Any information appreciated.
Fay Bullock - Oct '06
I have just started researching the McCance family (my mother's
father's family), and not knowing much at all at this early
stage, it was nice to come across this very interesting information.
I look forward in exploring all the comes before me, and certainly
would love to visit this area one day.
Once again thanks.
Jim Todd - Aug '06
Beautiful old church, my father and grandfather are both burried
in the churchyard. Both named - William Todd. If anyone knew
the Todds of the area I would like to hear from you as I am
trying to research the family history. As i live in Australia
it is a bit difficult.
Chris Reid - May '06
Thanks for the opportunity to communicate. I am putting together
a pictorial history of the areas of Drumbeg, Drumbo, Ballylesson,
Purdysburn etc. and would be very interested to hear from
anyone who might have old photographs taken in these areas.
I am particularly looking for photographs of cottages or houses
which are no longer in existence, modes of transport eg cars,
buses etc. Also photographs of people doing their days work
eg blacksmiths, farmers etc. Anything which depicts a life
which has essentially gone would be appreciated.
Please respond back to YPAM if you, any help would be really
Dorothy Dougan - May '06
I lived in Drumbeg until I emigrated to Canada in 1960. I
have very fond memories of this beautiful church. My parents
(Billy and May) are buried in the cemetery.
Hilary Read - March '06
March 17 2006 - This St. Patrick's Day I enjoyed reading about
Drumbeg Church which my family attended in the 1940s and 1950s.
I now live in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, but then
lived in Finaghy and we often walked to morning services at
Kathy Charley - Mar 06
looking for Robin Charley- please email: email@example.com
- we are lost relatives from the United States... John Charley
was my father's great great grandfather.
Lily Skelton - Jan '06
My name is Lily Skelton nee Alexander from drumbeg. My father's
two brothers where killed in the First World War at the battle
of the Somme. One was Robert, a private in the Royal Irish
Rifles, and his brother John was a first leutenant in the
Raymond Skates - Dec '05
As A Member Of The Skates Family. Belonging To Drumbo Parish.
You Have A First Class Website
Rev.Douglas Rose - November '05
This is an outstanding article. My wife's father, Moses Edward
Copeland was sexton at a Belfast church in the early l900's
so we are very interested in these historical accounts.
Robin Charley - December '04
Reference the Memorial in Drumbeg Church to Major
JFW Charley who was mortally wounded at Colenso. I visited
Major John Charley's War Grave at Colenso, South Africa three
years ago- the first member of the Charley family to do so.
Mr. and Mrs. J McCue - November
We have been members of drumbeg for the past twenty years
and have been made aware of alot of the history which was
unknown to us. Thanks to the rector for mentioning last sunday
evening, it has given us a desire to know more. Keep up the
Clara Crookshanks - November
The oak panelling on either side of the Holy Table in the
Chancel and the Prayer Desk used by the rector were hand carved
by my uncle, James Allen, and presented as a gift by him to
the church. These panels match the existing panel behind the
Holy Table. The Prayer Desk was carved to match an existing
If you enjoyed this article you may like to read some of
the others in this series, exploring community history through
History from Headstones: http://www.historyfromheadstones.com/