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Ballycastle becomes a parish again

By 1825 the Catholics of Ballycastle thought that their town and surrounding area was large enough to become a parish in its own right, separate from the Parish of Armoy, of which it had been part for many years.  They decided to approach Dr Crolly, Bishop of the Diocese of Down and Connor, when next he came to Ballycastle, presumably for Confirmation. 

The McGildowneys were a very famous family in Ballycastle, although Edmund McGildowney was the only who was a Catholic.  He invited the Bishop and some of the important Catholics of Ballycastle to his house for lunch.  His house is now part of the Marine Hotel at the foot of the Quay Road.  The rest of the McGildowney’s resided at Clare Park House, to the North of the town. 

The historian, Monsignor James O'Laverty, reports the event as follows: “Dr Crolly was waited on in Mr Edmund McGildowney’s house at the Quay, Ballycastle, by some of the Catholic inhabitants of Ramoan, in order to solicit him to appoint a separate parish priest.  The Bishop requested them to walk with him through the Warren (now Ballycastle Golf Links), and they debated the question.  They undertook to pay at least £40 for the support of a parish priest and the Bishop undertook to provide them with one in a few days.
Father McCann (Parish Priest of Armoy) surrendered the parish of Ramoan, and Dr Crolly, about the 1st August 1825, appointed a friar named McCarrill, who had officiated for some time in Kilcoo, Co. Down.  Fr McCarrill does not appear to have suited the new parish and he left in a few months”.

Fr McCarrill's successor was Rev Hugh McCartan and it was he who erected a chapel in Glenshesk.  The landlord of Glenshesk had been Mr Cuppage and when the parish priest went asking for a piece of ground on which to build a church, Mrs Cuppage, the landlord’s widow, gave an acre of ground in the townland of Corvally for the project, planted trees and landscaped the area.  A slab inserted on the gable of the subsequent church bears the following inscription:

Glenshesk Chapel
Erected A.D. 1827
The site was the generous gift of
Mrs Cuppage.

This chapel pre-dates the Catholic Emancipation Act by two years.

Father McCartan’s successor in 1828 was Fr John McMullan, who died on 2nd January 1830 aged 32 years.  He was buried in front of the altar of the little chapel at "Fairhill", which had been built by Father Roger Murray, when Ballycastle had still been part of the Parish of Armoy.

Father Charles Hendron was appointed parish priest in 1830.  He died ten years later on 10th March 1840 and, like his predecessor, was buried at the chapel at "Fairhill Street".  Father George Dempsey was parish priest from 1840 until 1848, when Father James McGlennon succeeded him and remained parish priest until his death in 1862.



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