BALLEE, or BALLY, a parish

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

BALLEE, or BALLY, a parish, in the barony of LECALE, county of DOWN, and province of ULSTER, 3 miles (S. E. by E.) from Downpatrick, on the road to Ardglass; containing 2598 inhabitants. It formerly comprised, according to the Ordnance survey, 6427 ¾ statute acres, of which 6282 acres were applotted under the tithe act; but the townlands of Jordan's Crew and Kildare's Crew have been severed from it under the Church Temporalities Act, and united to the parish of Ardglass, and Ballystokes has been annexed to Saul, with their tithes and cure of souls; the tithes of Ballyhosit have been also appropriated to the incumbent of Ardglass, but the cure of souls remains to the rector of Ballee. It is wholly under cultivation; the land is very good, and there is neither waste land nor bog. Ballyhosit House, the residence of T. Gracy, Esq., is a large and handsome edifice; Ballee House is in the occupation of R. Stitt, Esq.; the glebe-house is commodious and well built, and there are many other good houses, principally occupied by wealthy farmers. Until lately it formed part of the corps of the deanery of Down, but the union was dissolved under the provisions of the Church Temporalities Act, which came into operation on the 1st of Nov., 1834, and after the preferment of the late dean, when a new arrangement was effected by act of council.

The living is now an independent rectory, in the diocese of Down, and in the gift of the Crown. The entire tithes of the parish amounted to £598. 14. 3., of which, under the new arrangements, £340. 13. is payable to the rector of Bailee, subject to a deduction of £25. 3. appropriated to the economy fund of the cathedral; and of the remainder, £146 is payable to the dean, £97 to the rector of Ardglass, and £14 to the rector of Saul. The church is a large plain edifice without a tower, built on the foundations of a former structure in 1749. The glebe-house was built at an expense of £500, of which £450 was a gift and £50 a loan from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1816; and there is a glebe of seven acres.

In the R. C. divisions it is the head of a union or district, which also comprises the parish of Ballyculter, and contains three chapels, situated respectively at Ballycrottle, in Ballee, and at Strangford and Cargagh, in Ballyculter. There is a large meeting-house for Presbyterians in connection with the Remonstrant Synod, of the second class. The parochial school, in which 40 boys and 28 girls are taught, is supported conjointly by the rector and Hugh Johnson, Esq., of London, and there are two others. There are also four private schools, in which are 113 boys and 90 girls. J. Dunn, an eccentric itinerant dealer, by will in 1798, gave £100 in trust to A. Gracy, Esq., who purchased with it a chief-rent at Ballymote, in the parish of Downpatrick, which is divided annually between the Presbyterian poor of Down and Ballee. R. Glenny left £100, the interest to be equally divided among the poor Catholics, Protestants, and Presbyterians of the parish, but it is not now available; and Mrs. Kelly, of Loughkeland, by will in 1805, gave £100 in trust to Mr. Gracy, with which he purchased a house in Downpatrick, now let on lease at an annual rent of £10, which is distributed among the poor at Christmas. Near the mountain of Slieve-na-Gridel, which, according to the Ordnance survey, rises 414 feet above the level of the sea, is a remarkable druidical altar, the table stone of which is 11 feet long and 9 broad; and on the townland of Ballyalton is an ancient burial-ground, in which are some curiously inscribed stones. A splendid golden torques, richly ornamented and set with gems, was found near the glebe in 1834.

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