Thursday, 5 July 2012

Islandmagee Parish

Old First Presbyterian Church, Islandmagee

In my research last week at PRONI, Belfast, I next moved on to Islandmagee. This time, however, I focussed on the Presbyterian Churches. Although in the past I have said that 'our' Church was probably the 2nd Presbyterian Church (the Seceder Church), its records don't start until 1848 and I found almost all our references in the 1st Presbyterian Church whose records start in 1829. Those of the Church of Ireland don't start until 1878. All this is despite the fact that Islandmagee has some of the oldest churches in County Antrim. There was a Presbyterian minister working there as early as 1613, with First Islandmagee being formed in 1652 and a church built in 1674. The building illustrated above is called 'Old First Presbyterian Church' and I'm not sure from which year it dates. A newer one replaced it in 1901.

Sadly there are no church records remaining from before 1829 though we certainly had clan farmers on the peninsula long before that. Nevertheless I found no fewer than 24 records for three families in three townlands on the 'Island'. The first thing that must be said about them is that the clan member in all three is the wife and mother, so there is no continuing clan surname. It is very sad that the male lines died out there so early in the 19th Century. Two of the marriages I have written about before, though these records give us much more detail. Catherine McIlhaggo of Port Muck married Arthur Forbes of Killead at the 1st Presbyterian Church and five of their children were baptised there, and one was married there. Mary McIlhaggo, also of Port Muck married John Fullerton of Kilcoan and ten of their children were baptised there. Finally, and totally new to me, Sarah McIlhag(g)o of Ballytober married Thomas McMurtry of Ballao at the 1st Presbyterian Church and five of their children were baptised there. I will give you the details in separate blogs.

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