Archiver > NIR-ARMAGH > 2002-02 > 1014758387

From: Alison Causton <>
Subject: [ARMAGH] Portadown - Bassett's _Book of County Armagh_ (1888)
Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 16:22:04 -0500

This transcription was posted originally about two or so months ago.
It is being re-posted as part of ARMAGH Listers' current (renewed?)
efforts to contribute Co Armagh family history & socio-economic data online.
Please remember to cite the bibliographic reference given at the end of
this posting, in any subsequent usage of this information. Transcribed
by Alison Causton, Kingsville, Ontario, Canada, and intended SOLELY for
non-commercial, private research.


Estimated population, 10,000 in 1888.

PORTADOWN is pleasantly situated on the Bann, 87¨ miles north by west
from Dublin, 25 miles south by west from Belfast, 10´ miles north-east
from Armagh, and 5 miles south-west from Lurgan. It is an important
junction in the system of the Great Northern Railway, embracing the
counties of Armagh, Antrim, Down, Monaghan and Tyrone, and si [sic] the
chief port on the canal between Newry and Lough Neagh. The ground rises
high enough at both sides of the river to afford a great many beautiful
sites for villas, and the wealthy residents, in recent years, have taken
advantage of them to such an extent, as to greatly enrich the
picturesque features of the outskirts. From the manufacturing point of
view Portadown comes next to Lurgan. In its weaving and hem-stitching
factories, and spinning mills, employment is given to over 3,000 people,
and it is the centre of a district in which there are upward of 2,500
cottage-weavers. As a market for general produce it ranks with the
foremost towns in the North of Ireland. The great market is held every
Saturday, and although several inclosed places are specially provided
for conducting transactions incident to sale and purchase, there is an
overflow of odds-and-ends that has a fascination for the country people,
the effect of which is quite amusing. A prominent figure in the overflow
is the vendor of second-hand clothing. In style, manner and get-up he is
intensely dramatic, and with every article offered, goes through a form
sustained by speech and gesture to a most artistic climax. Traveling
shooting-galleries, shows on wheels, dancing maidens, and venerable
acrobats, in a modest way, second the efforts of the clothing artist.
The warehouse windows, and the side-walks in front, on such occasions
are dressed in bright colors. Indeed, nothing seems to be left undone in
order to make the day one of genuine pleasure as well as of business.
The residents of Portadown have considerable taste. This fact soon
becomes manifest to the stranger in going through the streets. Most of
the buildings are well constructed and sightly, and the places of
worship, in architectural outlines and internal decoration, are very
much above the average. Societies for mental and physical culture exist
in proportion to the requirements of the population, and there is a
public park, purchased and laid out by subscription, in which the people
are familiarized,with the beauties of Nature.
In every direction from Portadown the formation of the country is
favorable to agricultural operations, The land is generally good.
Potatoes, oats, and flax are the principal crops. Dairying is not
carried on as largely as it was ten years ago, but it still receives
attention. A great many of the farmers find fruit-growing a valuable aid
to income. Apple-orchards are abundant, especially toward the west,
facing Loughgall. In the season it is not uncommon to find 200 loads of
apples on one Saturday in Portadown.

BEFORE the power of England became supreme in the County Armagh, the
district of Portadown was in possession of the McCanns. They were
subordinate to the O’Neills, and had a stronghold which commanded the
passage of the Bann, and gave name to the place, Port-ne-dun, port of
the dun or fortress. In those days the wealth of chieftains was measured
by the number of cattle in their herds. Payments of consequence, such as
tribute to the kings, ransomes, etc., were made in cattle. Cattle were
also used as a means of barter. The country of the McCanns was well
adapted for grazing purposes, and no doubt was largely used in this way.
At the time of the Plantation of Ulster, I609, James I. granted an
extensive “portion” of land here to William Powell. In 1625 this was
confirmed to Prudence Obins and John Obins. They formed a settlement
with 14 English families, and built a fine mansion in the Elizabethan
style, with turreted corners. It was called a castle, and its chief
approach was by way of the thoroughfare now known as Castle Street. The
People’s Park was a part of the demesne, and the nursery of Messrs.
Samuel McGredy & Son, Woodside, was the site of at least a portion of
the mansion. A few years ago, during the progress of an excavation in
the grounds devoted to rose cultivation, a vaulted passage was
discovered. It runs into the People’s Park, and is 6 feet high and 4
feet wide. A few green oaks mark the parts known as the Castle Gardens.
One at the gate entering the Park, a short distance below the nursery,
is in a wonderful state of preservation, and really worth seeing,
especially by those interested in arboriculture. The Yeomanry Barrack
stood at the opposite side of the road from the nursery, now the
residence of Mr. Seth Robb.
During the war of 1641, directed by the Confederate Parliament at
Kilkenny, terrible scenes were enacted at Portadown Bridge. Captives
taken by Sir Phelim O’Neill were brought
from various patts of the country, and drowned in the river, those
escaping the water being killed as they reached the shore. After Col.
Owen Roe O’Neill had assumed command of the “Catholic Army of the
North,” he took prompt measures to put a stop to the horrors which had
been sanctioned by his predecessor. Imprisoned families were released,
and the strife conducted more in accordance with ideas of chivalry. At
the trial of Sir Phelim in Duhlin, 1652, a supernatural element waa
introduced. One od the witnesses, wife of Captain Price, testified that
she was present at Portadown Bridge, when the form of a woman rose out
of the water, and cried, “ Revenge, revenge, revenge.” Col. Owen Roe
O’Neill was also there, and by his directions a Catholic priest
questioned the apparation in English and Latin without eliciting a
reply. A Protestant clergyman from the English army, specially sent for,
addressed it on another occasion, and the words, “ Revenge, revenge,
revenge,” were repeated. It was said that for some time the heads and
forms of men and women were frequently seen at the same place. The trial
ended in the conviction of Sir Phelim O’Neill, and he was put to death.
Portadown is owned by the Duke of Manchester. From the time of the Obins
settlement progress was slow until the introduction of the linen
industry at the beginning of the century. In 1819 the population
numbered 900. In 1831 it had increased to 1,591, and in 1881 to 7,850.
At present it cannot be far fiom 10,000. Portadown is a district parish,
and was confined to the barony of O’Neilland West, on the western side
of the Bann, until 1840. Its boundary was then extended to the barony of
O’Neilland East, taking in Edenderry, in the parish of Seagoe. The
principal thoroughfare of the town is united to Edenderry by a fine
stone bridge. A few of the factories, the gas works, railway station,
and many of the handsome private residences are on the same side. Soon
after the passing of the Act to provide for the lighting, cleansing, and
watching of towns, 1829, Portadown took advantage of it. The inhabitants
lost no time in petitioning the Lord Lieutenant to be brought within the
scope of the Towns Improvement Act of 1854. On the 8th of January, 1885,
the Commissioners elected under it held their first meeting. They were:
John Obins Woodhouse, chairman, Thomas Averell Shillington, William
Langtry, William Paul, Thomas Harden Carlton, John Wilson, David
Thornton, David Wilson Irwin, John Watson, John James Marley, James
O’Hanlon, William Montgomery, David Ferguson, and William Dawson. Of
the entire number three only survive: Messrs. James O’Hanlon, David
Thornton, and William Montgomery. No change has been made in the town
boundary since 1840. It includes the whole townland of Tavanagh,
Corcrain, from Tavanagh and Clounagh to Pound Lane, thence to a point
next to Corcrain Bridge, to the Dungannon Road, the Ballybay River, to
the drain passing under Castle Island Bridge, continuing by the drain
across the Bann, taking in Edenderry to the Lurgan Road, “and by the
ditch outside Mr. Carlton’s garden to the bogs, and from the end of said
ditch, in a straight line, to the River Bann, at the point where the
mearing between Edenderry and Levaghery meets at the river.” This year,
1888, the Local Government Board has been asked to sanction a further
extension of the boundary from “Lurgan Road to Seagoe Turns, and from
Quarry’s Turns to end of Quarry’s property on Killicomain Road, and from
Annagh Bridge, on Tandragee Road, to south end of James Totten’s
property on same road.” This would bring in that portion of the townland
of Edenderry not included in the boundary of 1840, and the whole
townland of Annagh. The object is to get jurisdiction over a district in
which new villas and other dwellings have been erected, so that the
occupiers, by contributing to the taxes levied by the Commissioners, may
share in the benefits of public lighting, cleansing, and sewerage. The
town was brought under the provisions of the Sanitary Act of 1874, and
continued under the Amended Act of 1878. In 1857 the valuation of
property within the boundary was £5,210 10s., and the rate for general
purposes 1s. in the £. In 1862 the valuation was £7,066 5s., and the
general purposes rate 1s. The progress of the town between 1862 and 1870
is marked by an increase in the valuation to £14,163 15s., more than
double, while the rate for general purposes continued the same. In 1876
the valuation was £15,162 5s., and the rate for general purposes that
year was only 11d. in the £. The valuation in 1886 was £17,510 15s.,
and the rate for general purposes 1s. In 1887 the valuation was £17,679
l0s., and the rate for general purposes 1s.


EVERY Tuesday in the season a market is held for the sale of flax; grain
is sold on Wednesday and Saturday; hay and straw on Wednesday;
grass-seed on Wednesday from August to October; and on Saturday fowl,
eggs, butter, and pork. A retail market for potatoes and vegetables is
held every day. On Saturday a retail market for butcher’s meat is
also held. The pork market is improving; it averaged from 350 to 400
dead pigs per week until May of this year, but this number promises to
be largely increased in the near future, for the reason that two firms,
extensively engaged in curing, have recently been established in the
town. A market for sucking pigs, in carts, is held every Saturday. The
fowl market is good, but not up to what it was when conducted in the
open street. There is a first-rate wholesale potato market that seems to
increase in importance every year. The Duke of Manchester had a patent
for markets and fairs, but no tolls were collected. In 1878 the Town
Commissioners secured a lease of his right for 999 years, and have
expended about £6,000 in providing market places, erecting suitable
buildings, walls, etc. The money was procured partly from the Board of
Works at 33 per cent., repayable, principal and interest, by
instalments, in 30 years, and partly from private lenders at 4 per cent.
The charges in the markets at present are, pork, including weighing and
porterage, 2d. per pig; pigs on foot Id. each; plgs in cart, young,
1/2d. each; butter, including weighing, 10lbs. and under, 1/2d., over
10lbs. and up to 20lbs., Id., over 20lbs, 1-1/2d.; eggs, any quantity
not exceeding 50, 1/2d, exceeding 50, and not exceeding 100, Id., every
additional 50 or fraction of 50 1/2d.; geese and turkeys 4d. per dozen,
all other poultry and game 2d. per dozen; potatoes, turnips, carrots or
mangel-wurzel, 2d. per load, including weighing, 1d. per bag up to 6 -
no charge above 6; cabbage 1d. per load; fruit, Id. per load, bag,
basket or barrow, 1/2d.; hay and straw, including weighing, 2d. per
load; grass-seed Id. per bag; no charge on grain. The market-places are
situated as follows :--Pork and grass-seed, entrance west-street; pigs
on foot and young pigs in cart, entrance Woodhouse-street; butter, eggs
and fowl, entrance Mandeville-street; potatoes, turnips, cabbage, etc.,
wholesale, in Market-street and High-street, north side; fruit, in
High-street, south side; hay and straw, in Church-street and
Market-street; retail market for potatoes, vegetables and fruit,
entrance from William-street; fish, every day in High-street, north
side. The receipts from tolls average about £675 per annum, and the
expenses about £560. When the debt is paid off it is expected that a
considerable reduction can be made in the tolls, after contributing
toward repairs of side-walks, etc., in the immediate vicinity of the
markets. As usual there are two opinions regarding closed market-places.
Many ofthe merchants prefer the old system of crowding everything into
the streets, but the majority believe that it is better for the
interests of the town, and for every one concerned, to have things so
arranged that they may be controlled without confusion.
A good cattle fair is held in the fair green, entered from
Shillington-street, on the 3rd Saturday of each month. Attempts have
been made a few times to establish a horse fair, but without success. A
toll of 2d. on cows, 1d. per calf, yearling, etc., is charged in the
fair green. In 1887 the total amount derived from this was £94 10s. 8d.
About seven acres are embraced in the fair green and market-places. A
hiring fair is held on the 1st Wednesday every 3rd month.
Water for domestic purposes still continues to be drawn from street
pumps, of which there are 23. At the bridge there is a pump, not
included in this number, used specially for soft water. How to procure
a first-rate supply of potable water is a question which has been under
consideration for some time. One scheme proposes to utilize Marlacoo
Lake, between 4 and 5 miles south by west from Portadown. The estimated
cost of this would be £2l,350. Another scheme makes Slieve Croob,
County Down, the source for a supply equal to the requirements of
Waringstown, Banbridge, Dromore, Downpatrick and Seaford, all in the
county Down; and of Lurgan and Portadown in Armagh. The proportion of
expense to Portadown would be £21,000.
Since 1878 a great deal has been done toward providing a perfect
sewerage system. From £1,200 to £1,400 has been spent in this work. The
money is repaid by each district at the rate of 2d. in the £. Owing to
the high elevation of the town, the facilities for discharge of matter
are excellent.
In January, 1887, the Portadown Gas-Light Co. held its Forty-first
Annual Meeting, and declared a dividend at the rate of five per cent.
per annum on the paid-up capital stock, and a bonus of 20s. per share,
free of Income-tax. A table prepared by the Secretary, Mr. George
Kinkead, shows the amount of gas sold each year since 1849 to private
consumers. In I850 the amount was 612,225 cubic feet at 10s. per 1,000
feet, total £153 18s. In I853 it was 1,077,700 cubic feet at 8s. 4d.,
total £449 0s. 10d.; in 1863 it was 3,095,200 cubic feet at 7s.
6d.,total £1,l60 14s. 8d.; in 1873 it was 5,680,100 at 7s. 6d., total
£2,130 0s. 9d.; in 1883 it was 8,503,200 at 5s., total £2,125 16s.; and
in 1887 it was 9,965,300 cubic feet at 5s. per 1000 feet, total £2,491
6s. 6d. At the Forty-first meeting it was decided to supply the gas for
the 130 public lamps, by meter, at 4s. 2d. per 1000 cubic feet, the Town
Commissioners undertaking to do the lighting, cleaning, extinguishing,
and repairs of pillars and fittings.
A Volunteer Fire Brigade, organized under the auspices of the Town
Commissioners, is capable of effective work in emergency. Mr. Thomas
Shillington, secundus, is Captain, and Mr. John Acheson, Lieutenant.
There are twelve volunteers. Two manual engines and a fire escape are
maintained. The engine-house is in William-street.


WITHIN a comparatively short period, a change has been made in the
methods of manufacture at Portadown which threatens very soon to
dispense entirely with the services of hand-loom weavers. Twenty years
ago over 4,000 of these industrious hard-working people lived in the
town and district. Good authorities agree that the number at present is
not above 2,500. The young people are not following the occupation of
their fathers to an appreciable extent, and a great many of the families
have emigrated. The power-loom has been resisted as long as possible,
but it has latterly been coming into fashion here with a rush. There are
four large factories now in operation, giving employment between them to
upward of 2,000 people, the majority of whom are females. Messrs.
Watsont Armstrong & Co., J. & J. Acheson Sr Co., Castle Island Linen
Company, and Grimshaw & McFadden. Flax and Tow Spinning: Messrs. D.
Graham & Co., provides employment for about 400. Hemstitching by
machinery has latterly come to be quite a promising feature of the
industries of town and district. Between 500 and 600 people are employed
as a beginning. Those partly engaged in it are Messrs. Thomas Dawson,
Andrew J. Lutton & Son, Hamilton Robb, William Cowdy, John Malcolmson,
Samuel Wilson, R. & W. Stewart & Co., John Gilbert, and Monypeny &
Watson, at Cornascrebe. Messrs. Spence, Uryson & Co. are hemstitchers by
hand. All those mentioned are linen manufacturers by hand-loom, and give
employment in the aggregate to nearly 6,000 cottage-weavers of the
Portadown and other districts of Armagh, and of the counties of Antrim,
Down, Derry and Tyrone. Messrs. Thomas Kernaghan, Portadown, John
Montgomery & Sons, Derryvore, Robert Reid & Son, Tarson, and James
Irvine Annett, Riverside, are also linen manufacturers by hand-loom.
The number of weavers they employ is included in the calculation. It is
necessary to explain that the same weavers are not exclusively employed
by any one manufacturer. Yarn-boiling and preparing are also done at
Portadown. Pork-curing has become an important branch of industry this
year. A distillery consuming 3,000 tons of malt,
here and oats, and a brewery, once flourished in the town, but are no
longer in existence.
The carrying trade between Portadown, Newry and Belfast via the Newry
Canal, Lough Neagh and Lagan Canal, is still successful. The Newry Canal
joins the Bann about an Irish mile south-east of the town, and continues
the navigation system to Lough Neagh, 7 Irish miles. The Lagan Canal
also joins Lough Neagh, so that vessels up to 70 tons burden may go from
Belfast to Newry by way of Portadown. It takes one day to go to Newry
from Portadown, light, and two days with cargo, going or returning.
Freights, consisting of coal, grain, timber and general merchandize, are
usually brisk enough to make the trade profitable for four individual
boat owners, and four firms of boat owners. The tolls on the Newry Canal
are 6d. per lock per boat, light, and 1s. 6d. with cargo going into
Newry, and 2s. per lock, with cargo, returning. There are 13 locks.
Nearly all the masters of boats share profits with the owners. About a
third of the number live with their families on board the boats. The
competition is so keen that there is no opportunity to exact high rates.
Between Belfast and Portadown the trade is quite large. Boats up to 85
tons burden are towed by steamer from the Lagan Canal through Lough
Neagh to Portadown. The toll is 9-1/2d. per ton cargo; nothing on
register. At one time Portadown had direct communication by boat with
Scotland and Wales. Belfast is now the limit.
A Bill before Parliament this year, 1888, provides for the dredging,
deepening and widening of the Lower Bann, for improving its channels,
the construction of sluices at some of the weirs, and the removal of
obstructions. It resulted from the appointment of a Royal Commission
which sat in Portadown, last year, with the view to the collection of
testimony showing the injury caused to occupiers of farms along the
Upper Bann and its tributaries by flooding. This year, 1888, it is
estimated that 4,000 acres, within the area referred to were flooded,
and that the loss caused thereby aggregated £20,000. The Bill provides
that a sum of £65,000 shall be expended in order that the summer level
of Lough Neagh may be perpetually maintained. This it is believed can be
effected by the works contemplated in the Lower Bann. The proposal of
the Government is that £45,000 only of the grant shall be repaid, which
sum is to be levied upon the lands in the catchment area of Lough Neagh,
including the towns of Portadown and Lurgan. Some anxiety has been felt
lest the navigation between Lough Neagh and Portadown may be impaired by
the reduction to summer level, but it is believed that care will be
taken to safeguard this valuable interest.


THE People's Park consists of about twenty-one acres in what may, at no
distant day, be the centre of the town. The land was secured in 1871
from the Duke of Manchester on lease for 999 years, at £32 18s. 3d. per
annum, less half Poor-Rates. The amount spent in laying it out, legal
fees, etc., came to £1,365 6s. l0d. A moiety of the old loan fund
represented £250 14s. The rest was made up from the proceeds of bazaars
and by subscription, leaving a balance due of £170. The cost of
maintenance is met by sale of the grass and by letting to foot-ball and
cricket clubs, and for athletic sports, lawn tennis, etc. Whatever
deficit there may be is covered by subscription from residents. Messrs.
Averell Shillington, J.P., Thomas Shillington, ].P., Thomas Shillington
(2), Charles Johnston, J.P., Joseph Acheson, J.P., George Kinkead,
Benjamin Robb, and John Grew are trustees, and Mr. James Boyle,
secretary. A handsome artificial pond, some stately forest trees and
yews, are among the attractions. The Corcrain river runs through on the
way to join the Bann, and pleasant walks are carried along its banks.
Portadown is to have a new Town Hall presently. The old one, which is
partly represented in the illustration of Messrs. Miilliam Paul & Son's
business premises, was sold in August of this year 1888, to Mr. Thomas
Shillington, J.P., for £1,540. The Town Commissioners, after paying off
a mortgage of £240, will have a substantial balance with which to begin
the erection of the new building. This will have a suitable assembly
room for dramatic and musical entertainments of a high order, in
addition to the needful accommodation for Commissioners' meetings,
offices for Town Clerk, etc.
Building improvements in the business quarter of the town have been
carried on extensively during the past few years. Nearly every street
has had an increase in the number of houses.
Portadown is well supplied with banks. There are branches of the Bank of
Ireland, Belfast Bank, and Ulster Bank. It has also the Portadown
Discount Company, Limited, the Portadown Loan Company, and the Portadown
Building and Investment Company, Limited.
The Young Men's Institute is situated in Edward Street. It was
established in 1883 under the Limited Liability Act, upon a capital of
£1,000, in 1,000 shares of £1 each. Five shares were
paid in full, and 12s. 6d. per share on 780. With the amount thus
procured, and a loan of £740 17s. at 4 per cent., building and other
expenses were met. The accommodation includes library, reading-room,
class rooms, and an assembly room large enough to seat 200 people. At
the rear there are two well-appointed ball courts. About fifty members
pay 5s. a year each. Mr. John Acheson is Chairman, and Mr. William Weir,
A part of the Young Men's Institute is occupied by the Public Library at
a fixed rent. The library was established in 1872. Trustees appointed
for the purpose then received an equal share of £500, and accrued
interest, from trust funds of the old Portadown Loan Fund. This was
supplemented by donations, etc. The library contains over 2,200 volumes,
including in the various sections, history, science, philosophy, natural
history, poetry, biography, travels, and general literature. The
subscription is 5s. a year, and there are 130 members. A reading-room,
well supplied with newspapers and periodicals, is managed in connection
with the library. Books are lent out for two weeks, subject to renewal.
The trustees are Messrs. C. F. Wakefield, George Kinkead, A.
Shillington, J.P.; Charles Johnston, J.P.; and Arthur Thornton. Mr.
Charles Johnston, J.P., is president, Mr. Hugh Anderson, vice-president,
Mr. George Kinkead, treasurer, Mr. Tames McKell, secretary, and Mr.
William Hunter, librarian.


THE Portadown Musical Society is organized on a firm footing, and is
doing an excellent work. It was founded by Mr. Henry Shillington, C.E.,
and he continues to be its conductor.
About 10 years ago the Roman Catholic Young Men's Association was
established. Its house is in William Street. There are 150 members in
good standing. The subscription is 1s. a quarter. A reading-room,
plentifully supplied with newspapers and magazines, is the chief
feature. Mr. James Grew is president, Mr. Robert Cullen, vice-president,
Mr. John Reynolds, secretary, and Mr. D. Fitzpatrick, treasurer.
Lawn tennis has been a popular game at Portadown for many years, but
there was no established club until I881. In that year the initiative
was taken in the matter by Messrs. Charles
Johnston, James McFadden, J B. Atkinson, W. H. Atkinson, and William
Jones. There are now about 40 members, of whom 15 are ladies. The
subscription for gentlemen is 10s., and for ladies 5s. per annum. Mr.
Wm. H. Atkinson is secretary, and Mr. James McFadden, treasurer. The
ground is at Tavanagh. Four grass courts are laid down, and there is
room for two more.
The Portadown Cricket Club was established about 10 years ago. It has 40
members, who pay a subscription of 10s. a year each. The club around is
in the People's Park. There are some good players among the members.
A junior foot-ball club (Rugby), consisting of 30 members, has been in
existence for over two years. The subscription is 2s. 6d. per season,
and the ground in the People's Park.
The Portadown Athletic Club was organized in 1884. Sports are held
annually, in August, under its auspices. The track is in the People's
Park, and is said to be the second best in Ireland. About £70 is usually
expended in prizes, and the programme consists of 15 "events." Members
of the club pay an annual subscription of 10s. The management of the
sports in 1887 devolved on a committee consisting of Messrs. James Grew,
chairman, John Crummie, secretary, D. T. Gillespie, treasurer, J. C.
Stanley, D. W. Walker, and J. Doak.
Bicycling is very popular at Portadown, but there has been no attempt,
thus far, to form a club. A race for cyclists is always included in the
programme of the sports, and several of the local men enter.
A rowing club has been established for about eleven years. There are 40
members paying a subscription of 10s. each. A boat-house was erected at
a cost of £70 on the Edenderry side of the Bann. Three regattas have
been held since the foundation. At present scratch races only are rowed.
Fifteen boats are in use, gracing and 6 pleasure.


THE Church of Ireland occupies the most prominent site at Portadown. It
faces Market Street and High Street,and is flanked by Church Street and
West Street. Many structural changes have been made since the erection
in 1823. The original outlay was about £1,300, consisting of a gift of
£831 from the old Board of First Fruits, and a loan of £461 from the
same body The style of architecture was early English, with square
battlemented pinnacled tower. In 1885 the most important part of the
edifice was remodeled, and the seating capacity enlarged by the addition
of transepts. The church is now cruciform, and the main roof groined.
In the aisles, the roof-timbers are exposed, and harmonious effects
produced by staining. The chancel is exceedingly chaste in design and
detail. The pews are fitted in pitch pine, and the door laid with
encaustic tiles. A beautiful pulpit, constructed of Caen stone and
marbles of Connemara, Cork, and Kilkenny, a lectern, with carved oak
eagle, and a fine organ, are among the striking attractions. The church
was reopened in 1886. Over £4,000 was spent upon the new work, and in
remodeling the old. A mural tablet in the southern transept commemorates
Alexander Bredon, M.D., who for thirty-four years discharged the duties
of public officer in the district. Rev. Canon Augustine Fitzgerald,
D.D., is rector of Portadown, the Rev. Robert M'Cracken, curate, and Mr.
W. Archbutt Taylor, As. Mus. T.C.L., organist.
Portadown is the great stronghold of Methodism in the County Armagh. The
principal church is in Thomas Street. It is a spacious edifice, and has
a handsome portico, supported by four great pillars with Corinthian
capitals. In the interior a gallery resting on thirteen ornamental
pillars, runs all round. The front is tastefully ornamented, the pulpit
is mahogany, and the Communion rails of the same wood. Over the pulpit
there is a fine organ. The pews are modern and painted in oak. Several
mural tablets commemorate prominent Wesleyans, and make a most
interesting historical record. One erected by trustees of the church is
to the memory of Thomas Shillington, who died in 1830, at the age of 63.
"He was the nursing father of Methodism in this town and neighbourhood
for nearly forty years." The next to Thomas Averell Shillington, J.P.,
who died in 1874, aged 74. "Erected by fellow townsmen in grateful
remembrance of his public spirit and private virtues, and of the many
valuable services rendered by him in promoting the progress of
Portadown, and the true welfare of its inhabitants." The third, under
the galleries, tells its object thus: "As an enduring record of his
social virtues and Christian character this monument is inscribed by his
fellow citizens to the memory of William Paul, of Portadown." Died 1857,
aged 65. Set into the wall, above one of the gallories, a tablet bears
this inscription: " Rev. Adam Averell, M.A., a clergyman of the
Established Church, President of the Primitive Wesleyan Methodist
Society, 1818 to 1841. Died at Clones, 1847, in the 93rd year of his
age." It was originally erected in the Donegall Street Primitive
Methodist Church, Belfast. At the taking down of that edifice in 1887,
the tablet, for family reasons, was brought to Portadown. The present
Methodist Church was erected in 1860, and with the school-house
attached, and minister's residence, cost about £5,000. The old church at
the opposite side of the street, higher up, was built in 1832. It is now
used for commercial purposes. The senior minister, Rev. Andrew
Armstrong, appointed by Conference this year, was stationed at Portadown
when the old church was in use. Rev. Robert Jamison, and Rev. Randal C.
Philips are the associate ministers, and Mr. Henry Shillington, C.E., is
The Primitive Methodist Church is in Mary Street. It is a small,
plain-gabled building, and dates from 1860. Rev. ]ohn Taylor is


THERE are two congregations of Presbyterians, one belonging to the first
church, in Bridge Street, Edenderry, and the other to the Armagh Road
Church. The Edenderry Church has a handsome gable front, supported on
two large Corinthian columns. It was built in 1857. The interior
appointments are appropriate; seatings and pulpit in pitch pine, and the
ceiling in stained pine. The gallery is carried around on three sides,
with front of ornamental iron rails. In 1822 the original church was
built. It stood further back from the street, on the site afterward
occupied by the school-house. Near it was the tomb of the Rev. J. W. G.
Dowling, erected by the congregation whose minister he had been for many
years, although he died at the age of 38, in 1838. Rev. W. J. Macaulay
is the present minister. The Armagh Road Church has been built about 21
years. It is a handsome edifice, of black stone with freestone
dressings. The interior is fitted in good taste; seatings in pitch pine,
modern style. The church and manse stand in well-kept grounds. Rev.
Robert Jeffrey is minister.
The Christians, originally known as Plymouth Brethren, assemble for
worship at the Victoria Hall, David Street. A strong foothold appears
to have been made by the Salvation Army. It has extensive barracks in
Edward Street, built about four years ago.
The Roman Catholic Church is a large cruciform edifice, situated in
William Street. It has a high battlemented pinnacled tower, and
altogether is quite imposing. The interior is rich in embellishments,
and the effects harmonious and well calculated. Among the most
noticeable features are the high altar, the Virgin's altar, and the
pulpit, all in sculptured Caen stone, relieved by different colored
Irish marbles. As a work of art, the high altar is really meritorious.
The roof of the church is stained, and there is a spacious gallery at
the eastern end. A fine stained chancel window deserves mention. Very
Rev. Laurence, Canon Byme, is parish priest. His curate is Rev. P.
Next to the Roman Catholic church there is a Presentation Convent,
founded about five years ago, through the instrumentality of Canon
Byrne, who unselfishly gave the parochial residence so that it might be
brought into immediate use by the nuns. A ladies' boarding school and
infant school, under the National Board, are carried on under the
supervision of Mrs. Harbison, the superioress.
Four burial places are used by the residents of Portadown. Seagoe is
nearest to the town, less than a mile from the boundary, and is under
the authority of the Lurgan Board of Guardians. All denominations inter
in it. A fragment of the ruin of the ancient church, ivy-covered, still
remains. At Drum- cree, within a mile from town, there are church-yards
for Roman Catholic and Protestant burials. There is also an ancient
ground at Mullavilly, about 3 miles distant.

Source: The Book of County Armagh, by George Henry Bassett. Dublin:
Sealy, Bryers & Walker; 1888.

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