NEWRY

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

NEWRY, a sea-port, borough, market and post-town, and a parish, partly in the barony of ONEILLAND WEST, and partly in that of UPPER ORIOR, county of ARMAGH, but chiefly constituting the lordship of NEWRY, in the county of DOWN, and province of ULSTER, 30 miles (S. W.) from Belfast, and 50 (N.) from Dublin, on the road to Armagh, and on the great northern road to Belfast; containing 24,557 inhabitants, of which number, 13,134 are in the town. It was a place of some importance from a very remote period. The Annals of the Four Masters notice a monastery in it, in which was a yew tree planted by St. Patrick. The next intimation of its existence is the foundation of a Cistercian abbey, in 1157, by Maurice Mac Loughlin, King of Ireland, the charter of which is extant, and has been published by Dr. O'Conor in his work on the Irish writers. In this charter the place is named Jubhar-cin-tracta, "the pass at the head of the strand," or Jubhar-cinn-tracta, "the flourishing head of a yew tree," the former being traced from the position of the town, the latter from the circumstance respecting St. Patrick; by the Latin writers of that day it is called Monasterium Nevoracense, and in after times Monasterium de Viridi Ligno; it was also named Na-Yur, and at a still later period, The Newrys.

The charter of Mac Loughlin was renewed and enlarged by Hugh de Lacy, Earl of Ulster, in 1237, by which the head of the house was made a mitred abbot with episcopal jurisdiction within the precincts of the lordship. When Sir John de Courcy took possession of this district, he secured the pass, justly considered as very important, being the only road through the mountains between Ulster and Leinster, by a castle, which was destroyed by Bruce, on the retreat of the Scotch after their defeat at Dundalk in 1318. After several changes of masters, during which the place was frequently in the possession of the O'Nials, chieftains of Ulster, a second castle was built in 1480, which was demolished by Shane O'Nial, who then held a strong castle at Feedom, now Fathom. Marshal Bagnal restored the castle, rebuilt the town and peopled it with Protestant settlers; for which James I., in 1613, granted the entire lordship, together with the manors of Mourne, Greencastle, and Carlingford, in fee to him and his heirs for ever At the breaking out of the civil war in 1641, Sir Con Magennis took the town and castle, destroyed the church and slew many of the inhabitants.

It was shortly after recovered by Lord Conway, who did not hold it long, as O'Nial surprised it by night, and regained possession of it. In 1642, Munroe invested the town and took it by storm. After the Restoration, the town recovered from the sufferings inflicted on it, and continued to flourish till 1689, when it was burned by the Duke of Berwick in his retreat from Duke Schomberg: the castle and six houses only remained.

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