Berwick burns Newry

Just as we look back to previously published works on Newry, so too Bradshaw (1820) looks back for enlightenment to an ‘old County Down Survey’ of 1740.

Duke of Berwick, illegitimate son of Stuart King James II and destroyer of Newry

He avers that this states, that ‘it was still fresh in the memories of some ancient inhabitants of the town that in the year 1688 certain English soldiers, in burying their dead, discovered in the south-east quarter of the Abbey, the stumps of some trees of fine wood: and without regard to the place, rooted up and converted them to several domestic utensils, the wood being red and bearing a fine polish.’

Bradshaw continues ..

‘This Abbey was situated in Castle Street, at the head of the street which is opposite to the new church. Part of the building still remains and is at present occupied as two dwelling-houses.  The walls are extremely thick and strong: and the alterations in the building which have been made in modern times were attended with unusual difficulty and labour. Within the last sixty years (i.e. since c. 1760) there was a very massive stone staircase outside the building. It was no easy task to take this down, owing to the extreme hardness and solidity of the work. It is said that the men employed found it necessary to blow it up with gunpowder.’

[The Church is St Mary’s COI and the ‘street’ was Hyde Market]

It should be noted that the unnamed author of the earlier work had no compunction about referring to ‘the Abbey’ some two centuries after its dissolution; nor about censoring the English soldiers for not respecting it or the sanctity of the surrounding burial site. 

 It was however for Newry, the worst of times. Ireland was being used as a theatre of war by opposing forces, some loyal to King James, some to William of Orange. Indeed the town of Newry suffered its worst ever devastation in the following year when ‘the Duke of Berwick – illegitimate son of King James II – the better to secure his retreat before the English forces under the command of the Duke of Schomberg’ set fire to the town, destroying all but the castle and five or six houses.  

So much for our heritage from the Bagenals – who were, within a generation to relinquish ownership of Newry and the former Abbey lands to their relatives, the Needhams [the Louth portion going to Edward Bayly].  

… Creely gets Carneyhaugh …

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