St Peter’s Chapel, The Rock

Chapel Consecration, 1830

The following is an extract from the Belfast Newsletter dated 20th July 1830 and is used with the permission of the Belfast Newsletter.

The Rock Catholic Chapel. – This substantial and commodious edifice was consecrated on Sunday 11th inst by the Right Rev. Dr. Crolly, who, after the ceremony, delivered an eloquent and very appropriate sermon; in the course of which , he deprecated, in the most forcible language, party spirit and party processions, and clearly pointed out, that from them resulted the various evils which, from time to time, have befallen our ill-fated country. This part of the discourse seemed to produce a powerful effect on the minds of the respectable audience. We understand that the Marquis of Hertford, when the house was about to be built, contributed £20 towards its erection. The collection amounted to £35, including handsome donations from James Watson of Brookhill, and Alexander Hunter of Dunmurry, Esqrs. The Gentlemen who officiated as Collectors, were John and William McCance, John Sinclaire, Robert McAuley, and C.G.Cosslett, Esqrs.

Ordnance Survey Memoirs

The following extract is from "Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland – Parishes of County Antrim II 1832 – 1838". Thanks to The Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen’s University of Belfast for permission to use this extract.

Rock Roman Catholic Chapel

The Rock Roman Catholic Chapel is situated in Ballymacward upper. It is an oblong edifice, 1 storey high and slated, entrance by 2 doors and lighted by 6 Gothic windows. It measures 60 by 30 feet inside. The walls are of stone and lime and are 2 feet thick, the aisle floor of clay and the pews floored with boards. The altar stands in the south side of the chapel elevated some feet above the floor. Pews 34; there is an average 10 feet of seats in of 15 of these pews and will hold persons each pew 7, total 105. 19 pews has 9 feet of seats each and will hold 6 persons each pew, total 114. 7 forms 6 feet long each and will hold 4 persons each, total 28. 3 forms are 9 feet long each and will hold 6 persons each, total 18. Total persons accommodated with seats in the chapel 265. All the chapel furniture is modern and well arranged but painted as the chapel is not yet fully finished. It is a spacious building and will afford galleries. There is a neat stone cross erected on each gable cut in a stone, 1829, the date of erecting the chapel. Attached to the north side of the chapel stands a vestry 1 storey high and slated. It is 15 and a half by 7 and a half feet inside lighted by 2 windows.

The yard is tolerably large, partly enclosed by a stone and lime wall and partly by a quickset fence, and the greater part of it under a plantation of forest trees. There is no burials in it. Entrance by a good iron gate at which stands a neat, slated house 1 storey high and erected for a carekeeper’s dwelling. This chapel was built in 1829; cost when finished is estimated at about 300 pounds. The chapel ground is a free grant from Hertford family. The present Marquis of Hertford contributed 20 pounds towards the erection of the chapel, the late John McCance Esquire, M.P. gave 5 pounds, several of the congregation gave each 5 pounds, the remainder in smaller sums from benevolent persons of all denominations.

Divine service in this chapel is changeable from 10 o’clock to 12 o’clock alternate Sundays; average attendance from 200 to 400. Collections are made, the proceeds of which goes partly to the chapel fund and partly to distressed poor. The original chapel that stood on the above site was a low thatched house. It was fired at the last rebellion of Ireland but shortly after rebuilt and again thatched, and so remained so till the building of the present chapel in 1829. It stands on a rocky eminence from which it takes its name: the Rock chapel. Informants Robert Hamilton, William Close.

History of the Rock Chapel

The following extract is from "Diocese Of Down and Connor. Ancient and Modern" by Rev. J. O’Laverty P.P.M.R.I.A. Volume 2. 1880.

Parish of Derryaghy

The Rock Chapel was built in the year 1785 by the Rev. Hugh O’Donnell. Previous to that time Mass was celebrated at a rock, a few yards from the site of the chapel. This chapel was also burned by the wreckers in 1798. "After that," says a memorandum, written by the late William Close, "James Magee and Patrick McLarnon collected money and built a little thatched house for a chapel, and it served for a school-house too." That temporary chapel was replaced by the present church, which was erected in 1829 by the Rev. Hugh McCartan. It has been lately renovated in a very tasteful manner by Father Conway.

Father Conway is a native of the parish of Dunsford. He entered the Diocesan Seminary in August 1845; entered the Irish College, Paris, in September, 1847; was ordained by Dr. Whelan, Bishop of Bombay, in Clarendon Street Chapel, Dublin, in October, 1852; was appointed Curate of Belfast at Christmas of that year, and appointed Administrator of Ballymacarrett in November, 1866, from which he was appointed Parish Priest of Derryaghy, November 1st, 1869.

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