SAUL, a parish, in the barony of LECALE, county of DOWN, and province of ULSTER, 1¾ mile (N. E.) from Downpatrick; containing 2119 inhabitants. St. Patrick is said to have founded here an abbey for Canons Regular, and to have constituted his disciple, St. Dunnius, or Modun, abbot thereof: the patron day is May 29th. The founder died here March 17th, 493, in the 120th year of his age, and was interred with great solemnity at Downpatrick. Some years since, the ruins of this establishment were very extensive, but now only a fragment remains. The parish is situated on the south-western branch of Strangford Lough, and comprises, according to the Ordnance survey (including islands and a detached portion), 5272½ statute acres, of which 2119 are under tillage, the remainder in pasture.
Walsh's-town Castle, the residence of R. Foster Anderson, Esq., is one of many built by De Courcy on the conquest of Ulster, and of twenty-seven around Strangford Lough, this is the only one now inhabited; the ancestors of the present possessor having occupied it ever since the reign of Chas. I. The living was formerly a perpetual cure and part of the deanery of Down, from which, by order of council in 1834, under the Church Temporalities' Act, it was separated, and constituted a distinct rectory, in the diocese of Down and patronage of the Crown: the tithes amount to £386. 6.
The glebe comprises 6a. 0r. 20p., valued at £30. 12. 6. per ann.; the glebe-house was built by aid of a gift of £450, and a loan of £50, in 1816, from the late Board of First Fruits. By the order in council the three detached townlands, and the tithes of Whitehall, Ballynarry, and Ballynagarrick were disunited from this parish and annexed to the adjoining parish of Ballyculter, and the clerical duties of those townlands were annexed to the adjoining parish of Kilclief, to which were also annexed the townland and tithes of Ballywoodan, separated from the parish of Saul. In lieu of such severance the townland and tithes of Ballystokes, severed from Bailee parish, and those of Raholfe and Ballintleave from Ballyculter parish, were annexed to Saul, the clerical duties of the two last-named townlands remaining annexed to Ballyculter. The church, erected about 1770, is a large plain building, without tower or spire, occupying part of the site of the abbey; the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have recently granted £375 for its repair. The R. C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church. There are two schools, aided by annual donations from Dean Plunket and Lady Harriet Forde, in which about 240 children are educated: about 70 are taught in a private school, and there are three Sunday schools. Mrs. Conway bequeathed a rent-charge of £3. 7. 6. per ann. to the poor of this parish; and Judge Ward gave a rentcharge of 16s. per ann. for ever out of the Castle Ward estate. Near Walsh's-town Castle stood the church of St. Mary, by some supposed to have been parochial, but it seems most probable that it was for the use of the garrison; on levelling the churchyard a few years since, coins of the reigns of Hen. I. and II., Robert Bruce, and Rich. III., were discovered.
from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.
The transcription of the section for this parish from the National Gazetteer (1868), provided by Colin Hinson.
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