The peculiarities of the ecclesiastical arrangements of the lordship proceed from its connection with the monastery already noticed, which, after having risen to a great height of prosperity by the fostering care of many successive kings, underwent the fate of all the other monastic institutions during the reign of Henry VIII. After the dissolution it was converted into a collegiate church for secular priests, which having soon fallen to decay, the abbey, with all its possessions, was granted by Edward VI. to Sir Nicholas Bagnal, in as free, full and ample manner as it had been enjoyed by any abbot. Hence, the episcopal jurisdiction previously exercised by its clerical head devolved at once upon its new proprietor, whose representative, the Earl of Kilmorey, exercises it to its fullest extent, as lay abbot; appointing spiritual officers, holding ecclesiastical courts, granting probates of wills and licences of marriage, and performing every other episcopal act with as plenary power as any bishop, being subject only to the Lord-Primate, as metropolitan.

The living is a donative, in the patronage of the Earl of Kilmorey, as lay abbot, who, as such, possesses the whole tithes; yet in the royal visitation book of 1615 it is stated, that Nova Ripa, alias Nieu Rie, is among the parishes under the jurisdiction of the see of Dromore. St. Patrick's church, built by Sir Nicholas Bagnal in 1578, burnt in the civil wars, and restored after the Revolution, was originally the parochial church; but, in 1811, being much dilapidated and too small for the increasing congregation, an act was obtained under the provisions of which a new church was built on an enlarged scale and on a new site, to be henceforth the parish church of St. Mary's, Newry. This church, built in the Gothic style, with a tower and spire 190 feet high, was finished in 1819, at a cost of £12,566. 15. 4 ½., British currency, exclusively of £2469. 4. 7 ½ expended in the purchase of the site, and in obtaining two acts of parliament. The funds for liquidating this charge arose from a bequest of £3138. 9. 2 ¾. from the late W. Needham, Esq., lord of the manor; a bequest of £1346. 15. 4 ½. from Sir Trevor Corry; a donation of £923. 1. 6 ½. from the Earl of Kilmorey, a donation of £461. 10. 9 ½. from General Needham; £2520 raised by the sale of the pews, and £6646. 3. 1. by parochial assessment; it is endowed with £300 per ann., payable by the lay abbot in lieu of tithe.

In 1829, the old church of St. Patrick was repaired and fitted up as a chapel of ease: the living is a chaplaincy or donative, in the gift of the Earl of Kilmorey, who endowed it with £100 per ann., subject to the peculiar jurisdiction of the vicar-general of Newry. In the R. C. arrangements the parish is the head of the diocese of Dromore, being the bishop's parish or mensal, and is co-extensive with that of the Established Church; containing three chapels, two in the town and one at Shinn, 4 miles distant, which arc attended by the same number of curates.

The older R. C. chapel, a well-built but plain structure, with three galleries and a spacious cemetery attached to it, was erected in 1789. Being found too small for the accommodation of the numbers that attended it, a new chapel was erected in the low ground, in the pointed Gothic style, 120 feet long, 74 broad, and 46 feet high to the ceiling. The facade consists of a centre and two wings, with a deeply receding doorway, and is highly ornamented. The interior consists of a nave and two side aisles detached by rows of moulded granite pillars, supporting lofty pointed arches, over which are the clerestory windows by which the centre is lighted: the great altar is surmounted by a large window of three lights. This chapel is considered to be the diocesan chapel of the Bishop of Dromore, who resides at Violet Hill, to the north of Newry, where there was formerly a house of lay friars, which has been transferred to the town; in which also is a seminary for preparing the youth of the Catholic church for Maynooth college.

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