KILCOO, a parish, in the barony of UPPER-IVEAGH, county of DOWN, and province of ULSTER, 2 miles (S.) from Castlewellan, on the road from Newry to Downpatrick; containing 6520 inhabitants. It is situated on the eastern coast, at the base of Slieve Donard, and comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 18,205½ statute acres, of which 15,741 are applotted under the tithe act. The surface is very uneven, and the land, with the exception of that around the village of Bryansford, cold, wet, and unproductive; its cultivation is also much impeded by the great number of stones which are scattered over it in every direction. The mountains of Slieve Donard (which has an elevation of 2796 feet above the level of the sea) and Slieve Bingian, of 2449 feet, are within the parish, forming part of a chain rising at Newcastle and extending to Rosstrevor, a distance of 20 miles; the northern sides are here covered with verdure, but the south and west sides present chiefly large tracts of bog. The principal seats are Tollymore Park, the elegant residence of the Earl of Roden, situated in a richly wooded and well watered demesne; Donard Lodge, the handsome mansion of the Earl of Annesley, erected in 1830 on the acclivity of Slieve Donard, and commanding some fine views; Brook Lodge, of W. Beers, Esq.; and Burren Cottage, of the Hon. Gen. Meade: there are also many very good houses at Bryansford and Newcastle (which see), and at Drumlee is the neat cottage of the Rev. J. Porter. The parish is in the diocese of Down, and the rectory forms part of the union of Kilkeel and corps of the treasurership of the cathedral of Down; the tithes amount to £300. The church, with the village of Kilcoo, was burnt in 1641, and in 1712 a church was built at Bryansford, which, being too small for the congregation, was considerably enlarged in 1806, when, a handsome tower was added to it; and was repaired by aid of a grant from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1812. There is also a handsome church with a lofty tower at Newcastle, built in the year 1833, at the expense of Earl Annesley, who appoints the minister and pays his stipend. In the R. C. divisions the parish includes the districts of Bryansford and Kilcoo; there are three chapels, situated respectively at Bryansford, Newcastle, and Ballymony; and at Newcastle is also a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. A school at Fofeny was founded in 1822, by the Earl of Roden, who also built another for boys, with a house for the master, in 1826, and by whom both are supported. A school for girls at Bryansford, with a cottage for the mistress, was built in 1822, and is supported by the Countess of Roden; and there are schools at Lower Kilcoo, Ballymoney, and Ardaghy. About 650 children are taught in these schools, and there is also a private school, in which are about 40 children. On the western side of the parish, at Lough Island Reavy, a reservoir has been constructed for supplying water to the river Bann in dry weather; it covers an area of 255 acres, and when filled will contain a supply for 13 weeks; the expense to the river Bann Company has been estimated at £20,000.
A new quay has been erected at Newcastle, to afford shelter to vessels passing the channel in stormy weather; the expense was defrayed by a grant from government, aided by a subscription from Earl Annesley.
from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.