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St. John's


It is not known when the first church was built at  Donegore but the present building is one of the oldest in the Diocese of Connor. The earliest record of a church on  this site occurs in the taxation role of Pope Nicholas IV in 1306. An  entry in the Ulster visitation book in 1622 describes the  church as "decayed". Around this time a Scottish colony was established in the area, ministers of Scottish Presbyterian origin  were ordained to serve in the Established church, and the Rev. Andrew Stewart of Donegore was one of the first. His son-in-law was  incumbent in 1659, the date which is over the doorway of the church. Restoration had obviously been carried out since the  church was described as "decayed" in 1622.             


Historical records over the 17th and 18th centuries are  few. Years of civil unrest culminated in the 1798 rebellion and the battle of Antrim with the resulting retreat of  the rebels to Donegore.             

Church and other records from the 18th and 19th  centuries tell us of a number of changes; the separation in 1864 of Donegore Parish from Kilbride Parish with which  which it had been joined since 1622, the Act of Disestablishment came into force in 1871, and there were changes of the  fabric of the building. According to the Ordinance Survey Memoir of  1838, the church had in recent years undergone alterations,  its length having been shortened by twenty-one feet in 1817. In 1871 the tower and belfry were added, and the East  Window in 1875. In the south-west corner of the churchyard is the  watch-house, or corpse house, built in 1832 to foil the attempts of  the "resurrectionists" at body-snatching.             


The churchyard has many interesting old headstones,  including that to Sir Samuel Ferguson, Irish scholar and poet who died in 1886. In the porch are memorials to the  Adair family, one of whom was killed aboard H.M.S. Victory at Trafalgar.             


From 1898 the Rev. C.J Newell , vicar of Templepatrick  was priest-in-charge of Donegore Parish and this union was formally  recognised in 1922. The United Parish of Templepatrick  and Donegore gained parochial status in 1868. Repair works to Donegore  church were carried out in 1962 and 1980, and major restoration  work was still required on the tower and belfry, the walls and the  roof. This work was completed in 2000 with the aid of a  lottery grant  at a cost of over £200,000.              


Donegore Church is a Grade A Listed Building by the  Historic Monuments and Buildings Branch of the Department of the  Enviroment (N.I.) and the corpse house is also a listed building.  As such, restoration and repair must be carried out to the highest standards and in sympathy with the architecture and  history of the building.             



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