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Donaghmore Presbyterian Church

donaghmoremeetinghouseIn the Parish of Donaghmore where the four townlands of Lisserboy, Loughorne, Tullymurry & Aughnacavan meet, stands the Presbyterian Church of Donaghmore.
It has been on the site from 1705, yet the present Church dates from 1895.
Above the main door is the inscription – Donoughmore Presbyterian Church, 1705, enlarged 1762, restored 1895.
Following are the list of Ministers over the Centuries and brief details of them.

The first Minister Rev James Johnston had bought the townland of Lisserboy, he built Traymount (Tremount House) and in 1702 gave the site for the Church, he was ordained on June 23rd 1707.  He was Minister for 59 years and a pew was reserved for the Johnston family and their heirs.  he was born about 1678 and married Elizabeth Wilson and had at least 2 children, James of Tremount and Joseph MD.  He died October 21st 1765 and was buried in Donaghmore Parish Churchyard.
It was a great privilage that Johnston descendants were able to attend the special Tercentenary Service in Donaghmore in April 2005.

George Richey was ordained on June 27th 1763 as assistant to Rev Johnston, he was greatly loved by the Congregation and when he died on 8th December 1771, aged 38 his funeral service in Donaghmore Parish Churchyard was laid by Rev Samuel Barber of Rathfriland.  He married a daughter of Rev Alex McComb and had a daughter who married Connel O'Donnel and a son who drowned in Newry leaving 2 children, James a minister and Alex a barrister.

Joseph Hay was ordained on March 9th 1773, he was a great loyalist and zealous minister.  He married  adaughter of Rev Joseph Kinkead and died aged 56 on May 15th 1803, having been minister for 31 years, he also was buried in Donaghmore Parish Churchyard.

Moses Finlay was ordined on September 4th 1804, he was a zealous man for the Sunday School.  In 1832 a leacture hall and stables were built for £200.  He resigned in April 1837 and went to Newmills, Co.Tyrone.  He died on May 5th 1854 and is buried in Donaghmore.  He had sons called Charles & William Laird Finlay.

On October 27th 1840 Verner W White was ordained, he was a great preacher and crowds flocked to hear him.  He resigned July 5th 1844 to go to Islington Church, Liverpool.  His sermons were very popular and he later went to London and obtained a Doctor of Laws.

Next Minister was Rev Samuel James Moore, he was installed on 28th October 1845.  On August 6th 1850, he was given a residence with an address at Buskhill.  During his ministry the number of Communicants was 400 on 14th October 1849.  He resigned on August 20th 1850 to go to Third Ballymena.  A group of leading elders including James Martin, Robert Jeffrey & Robert McGaw met the synod of Dubin on 2nd May 1851 to protest against his resignation.  Among the reasons of protest were, the Congregation was in a state of ignorance, a good minister had left which would leave a grevious vacancy, more money was collected during his time, a Manse was to be erected if Mr Moore stayed and Mr moore was the best.
Mr Moore's father David was Minister of Markethill.

Rev Patrick White, brother of Verner was installed on March 11th 1851.  He joined the "Revival Movement" of 1859 and on Sunday October 9th 1859 there was almost 400 communicants.  He was given a residence at Buskhill on October 11th 1859 with an address and purse of sovereigns.  New Scotch tokens were distributed for the first time on 25th October 1856 and he first preached in a gown on February 19th 1860.  He resigned February 11th 1862 to suceed his father at First Ballieborough.

Rev John Elliott was installed December 29th 1862, where Rev W Todd Martin of Newry preached the sermon, Rev John Dodd, Newry gave the charge and Clerk of Session, Rev Robert Lindsay explained Presbyterianism.  rev Elliott was friendly REVJOHNELLIOTTwith Mrs & Miss Johnston of Tremount and during his time, the Manse was built and he was the first Minister to live in it.  He resigned and preached his farewell sermon on June 27th 1875, as he went to Third Armagh, until his death in August 1898, he was buried at his family Church of Smithborough, Co.Monaghan, as he was a son of Rev John Elliott "Eldron",
 Smithborough.  On september 18th 1856 he married Jane Stewart Trimbel, daughter of John Trimble, they had children, John Trimble, William Foster, Hester Ismay, Breton George, James Joseph, Alice & Henrietta.

On January 18th 1876 Henry McDowell was ordained, he was married to Elizabeth, daughter of James McNeilly, Glassdrumman House, Annalong, he died young on December 25th 1882.

rev lawson burnett
Rev Lawson Burnett was installed on December 21st 1881, he was previously Minister of Kilkinamurry, Katesbridge.  A sermon of his won a prize in "The Sabbath Observance Society", Edinburgh competition, published in 1882, it was titled "A Blessing and a Curse"based on (Duet xi 26-27).  On 14th November 1911 the congregation gave Mr Burnett an address and pulpit robes and Mrs Burnett a hall lamp and choice tea service.
He had married on January 12th 1884 Jane Grieve, daughter of John McDowell, of Warrington, Lancashire.  They had children, Harry of Provincial Bank, Coleriane, who was to loose his life in the First World War, there is a plaque in the Church Vestibule to him..  – "In ever loving memory of Henry Wimer Burnett, 4th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, only son of Rev Lawson Burnett retired Minister of Donaghmore Presbyterian Church, who felli n action at the battle of Cambrai 20th to 23rd November 1917, aged 28.  "Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away"  Extract from the chaplin's letter – "We were on the point of being surrounded by the enemy and with his coy he gave up his life to save his battalion, following the example of his saviour in giving his life for his fellow man, the most splendid deed any sould can do"  Erected by the Congregation and his sorrowing parents and sisters"
Daughters were Jeannie, a university graduate, Ella a hospital nurse, Dora & Mildred.
Rev Burnett retired on 3rd November 1914 and continuing to live in the Manse died on 22nd December 1927, aged 86 and is buried in Donaghmore Parish graveyard, where later his wife was laid beside him.  On the headstone are the words –

"Erected by the congregation of Donaghmore Presbyterian Church in memory of their beloved minister, The Rev Lawson Burnett B.A. who died December 22nd 1927, aged 86 years, also his son Henry Wilmer Burnett who fell at Cambrai, November 20th to 22nd 1917, aged 27 years.  Also his wife Jane Burnett who died October 7th 1935 aged 71 years. "Blessed are the pure inb heart for they shall see God." "

His sucessor was Rev George Frederick Waddell, who was ordained on 9th March 1915, he died only 3 months later, while visiting his girlfriend in Dublin on 15th June 1915.
He was a cousin of the McMaster family and lodged with them and was also related to the writer Helen Waddell and was a son of Rev Hugh Waddell of Japan.

Rev Henry Cooke Stuart of Belfast was ordained on 7th September 1915, after 5 years he resigned on 8th November 1920 to go to New Zealand.  He returned some years later and wanted to return to Donaghmore, but wasn't accepted and he ended his ministry days in Moneydig, retring in January 1959 and living in Sydenham Avenue, where he died on 9th January 1972.  We are most grateful to his daughter, Mrs Esther Chapman for supprev henry c stuartlying this photo!.

Rev Robert James Baillie of Ahorey was installed on 20th Feb 1924.  During his ministry, a new ceiling was put in the church, the money being raised through a four day Bazzar at Ranten Memorial Orange Hall in 1929.  He had a motor bike and sidecar, in which he and his wife travelled, often it would breakdown and he would have to push it up the Manse Hill.  He had heart trouble and resigned on 26th June 1935 and died 3 days later on 29th June at the Manse.  His funeral service was in Donaghmore Presbyterian Church, where the pulpit was draped in black..  He was laid to rest at Ahorey Presbyterian Church, Co.Armagh, his first congregation.  The couple had no family. 
s retirement



Rev James Keatings Williams Laird son of Rev Richard Laird of Ardstraw was ordained on 3rd January 1936 and he gave his whole ministerial life to the congregation, retiring on 31st October 1971.  He retired to Dundrum , Co.Down and died on 29th April 1992 and his funeral service was in Donaghmore Presbyterian Church on 1st May 1992.   In October 1992 a plaque was unveiled in the church in the presence of his family to his memory.

The Rev William James Sleith was installed on 25th July 1974 to the now united Congregations of Donaghmore & Glascar, he decided to live in Glascar Manse.  Also at this time Donaghmore left the Newry Presbytery and joined Iveagh.  Rev Sleith continued to minister until 1983, when he left for a Congregation in Armagh.

His sucessor was Rev David Latimer, who ministered from 1984 until 1988, when he went to Londonderry and he continues to reside there.

Rev Billy Elliott who came in 1989, unfortunately had to resign after a few months owing to ill health.

The now present Senior Minister, Rev Arthur Clarke was installed in September 1990 and served until his retirement in November 1999, he now lives in Dromore, Co.Down.

The present Minister Rev Willie Orr was installed in Glascar in December 2000 and he is a faithful hard worker in the two congregations.  Rev Orr retired at end of January 2009, the previous April he had left Glascar Manse to go to his new home below Rathfriland.

The new Minister Rev Raymond McKibbin was ordained & installed on Friday 4th September 2009 in Donaghmore.  The congregations of Glascar & Donaghmore are his first charge, as he had been assistant Minister in Legacurry.



One Response

  1. keith jones

    Excellent research .well worth the read

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