ST.CUTHBERT'S CHURCH

  

 A short walk away from Dunluce Castle, on the Ballytober Road, lies the old church ruin of St. Cuthbert's -built on the site of an older medieval church it was completed  in the late 1630's and is dedicated to the Northumbrian monk St. Cuthbert - during the period of early Christianity links were established between the Abbey's of Armoy, Northumbria and Clonmacnoise with scholastic and spiritual exchanges taking place. The first Earl of Antrim Randall McDonnell married Lady Katherine Manners, daughter of the Earl of Rutland and widow to the Marquess of Buckingham, she is credited for the building or complete renovation of  St.Cuthbert's. Both the Earl and Countess were of the Catholic faith yet provided places of worship for the mainly Protestant settlers in their territories of the Route and Glens - unique to find in 17th Ulster when religious tolerance was a rarity. The church was originally thatched and the interior white ceiling described in memoirs as being painted with the signs of the zodiac, it served  the Parish of Dunluce from the late 1622s to1820 when the new church of St. John the Baptist was built in Bushmills.The graveyard has some fine headstones which convey the background to both the old merchant village of Dunluce and the surrounding Parish from 1630 onwards. Local folklore tells of sailors and noblemen from the ill fated Spanish Armada ship the 'Girona' being buried here in 1588. It is well accounted that the McDonnell's had cannons mounted on the parapets and were also in possession of other artifacts from the shipwreck. Another artifact reputed to have come from the Girona and which was used in St. Cuthbert's was a Muniment Chest (used for manuscripts and religious purposes) - so perhaps the stories of noblemen and Spanish sailors laid to rest in St. Cuthbert's are accurate, it certainly make a walk around St.Cuthbert's even more fascinating. Currently the oldest readable stone dates to 1630 and marks the burial site of children belonging to Walter Kid, a merchant in Dunluce and Burgess of Irvine - ten years after the pilgrim Father's landed in New England. The first known vicar of St.Cuthbert's was a William Wallace from 1622-35, he also covered Dunluce and Portcaman, Ardclinis and Derrykeighan, were he resided. In 1634 it is written that he was contemplating emigrating to New England. He was also a benefactor if the will of a William Boyd which was executed by a Thomas Boyd of Carncoggie - an early Scottish Settler in north Antrim.

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