17th Century Census

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The Census of County Down 1659 [PRONI T497] distinguishes between Scotch (by which was meant Protestants of Scottish or English origin) and Irish (meaning native Irish or Roman Catholic). It was shortly after the rebellion of 1641 and the suppression that followed it. Cromwell’s vengeful and terrible retribution of 1649 was both bloody and protracted. His commander Colonel Robert Venables retook Newry from the native Irish, mercilessly and easily. Plague and famine swept the country.

It is in the light of all this that the Census statistics should be interpreted.

Newry then had a population of 951, of which 166 were ‘Scotch’ and 785 were ‘Irish’. It is perhaps remarkable that though our population today is perhaps twenty five times that, the fractions of Catholic to Protestant are very similar, both in Newry and in the greater Newry and Mourne District Council area).

Townlands in the vicinity were more starkly divided. Drumcashellone (then spelled Drumcassellowen) had ten inhabitants of whom two were Scotch. The wider hinterland of Lower Iveagh was equally divided between the two. Areas to the north east of the town (Benagh, Crowbane, Derrylacka for example) were totally Irish. Post-Cromwellian persecution was soon to change all that. Ballinacraig’s thirteen citizens were all Irish. Its principal citizen was one Michael Garvey.

… Isaac Corry, Traitor …

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