Castlereagh (County Down townland)

Coordinates: 54°34′38″N 5°53′18″W / 54.5771795°N 5.88821°W / 54.5771795; -5.88821
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54°34′38″N 5°53′18″W / 54.5771795°N 5.88821°W / 54.5771795; -5.88821 Castlereagh (from Irish An Caisleán Riabhach, meaning "the grey castle")[1] is a townland and former hamlet in the civil parish of Knockbreda, barony of Castlereagh Lower, in County Down, Northern Ireland.[1] It is southeast of Belfast and now at the fringe of the city's suburbs. The townland has an area of 415 acres (168 ha).[2]


About 1350, at the site of a ráth in the Castlereagh Hills, Aodh Flann O’Neill is said to have built the castle from which the townland was named.[3] Aodh was of the Clandeboye, a branch of the O'Neill dynasty who colonised the area from the west.[3][4] Con MacShane O'Neill raided Belfast from the castle after Christmas 1602, leading to retributions from the Elizabethan settlers there.[3][5] In 1615, he was reduced to selling the manor comprising the castle and grounds to Moyses Hill, ancestor of the Marquesses of Downshire, who still exercised jurisdiction there in the 1840s.[3][4] The castle was ruined by the 1750s.[3]

Castlereagh Presbyterian Church was founded in 1650, with a building on Church Road from 1720, and the present one built in 1835.[5][6][3]

The title of Viscount Castlereagh was created in 1795 for Robert Stewart, Baron Londonderry; when he was promoted to Earl of Londonderry in 1796, "Viscount Castlereagh" was the courtesy title of his son, infamous for suppressing the Irish Rebellion of 1798.[4]


Population of townlands was published at censuses from 1841 to 1926.

Year 1841[7] 1851[7] 1861[7] 1871[7] 1881[8] 1891[8] 1901[8] 1911[2] 1926[2]
Population 217 177 208 164 135 129 128 165 212

Places named after the townland[edit]

The manor of Castlereagh gave its name to the barony of Castlereagh, later split into Castlereagh Upper and Castlereagh Lower.[4]

Under the Irish Poor Laws, Castlereagh townland gave its name to the surrounding Castlereagh electoral division within the Belfast poor law union. After the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, the County Down portion of the union became the Belfast No. 2 rural district, later renamed Castlereagh rural district; the poor law electoral division became a district electoral division (DED).[9] The Local Government (Boundaries) Act (Northern Ireland) 1971 specified Castlereagh DED as the nucleus of one of the 26 new local government districts,[10] which thus was named Castlereagh district; it became Castlereagh borough in 1977 upon acquiring borough status.


  1. ^ a b "An Caisleán Riabhach/Castlereagh". Placenames Database of Ireland. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "County of Down". Census of Northern Ireland. 1926. p. 10. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "History". Castlereagh Borough Council. Archived from the original on 25 July 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d "Castlereagh". The Parliamentary gazetteer of Ireland. Vol. I: A-C. Dublin: A. Fullarton. 1846. p. 372.
  5. ^ a b "Castlereagh Presbyterian Church". Ulster Scots Trail. Ulster-Scots Agency. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  6. ^ Little, James (1950). The Story of an Historic Church: Castlereagh Presbyterian Church, 1650-1950. OCLC 43147058.
  7. ^ a b c d "Area, houses, and population, Ulster". Census of Ireland. 1871. pp. Vol. III, p.489. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  8. ^ a b c "Area, houses, and population, Co. Down". Census of Ireland. 1901. pp. Vol. III, Part 2, p.15. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  9. ^ "Topographical index". Census of Northern Ireland. HISTPOP.ORG. 1926. p. 53. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  10. ^ "Local Government (Boundaries) Act (Northern Ireland) 1971". CAIN. Retrieved 17 July 2014.