Roman Catholic Diocese of Dromore

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For the Anglican diocese, see Diocese of Down and Dromore.
Diocese of Dromore
Dioecesis Dromorensis
Deoise an Droma Mhóir
Newry Cathedral - - 1497482.jpg
Country Northern Ireland
Territory Parts of counties Antrim, Armagh and Down
Ecclesiastical province Province of Armagh
Area 386 sq mi (1,000 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2013)
88,000 (45.4%)
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Latin Rite
Established Diocese in circa 1192[1]
Cathedral St. Patrick and St. Colman’s Cathedral, Newry
Patron saint St Patrick and St Colman
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop John McAreavey
Metropolitan Archbishop Eamon Martin
Emeritus Bishops Francis Gerard Brooks,
Bishop Emeritus of Dromore
The Diocese of Dromore within the Ecclesiastical Province of Armagh
The Diocese of Dromore within the Ecclesiastical Province of Armagh

The Diocese of Dromore is a Roman Catholic diocese in Northern Ireland. It is one of eight suffragan dioceses which are subject to the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Armagh.[2] The present Bishop is the Most Reverend John McAreavey who received episcopal ordination in 1999.

Geographical remit[edit]

The See covers portions of counties Down, Armagh and Antrim within Northern Ireland. It contains the city of Newry and the larger towns are Banbridge, Craigavon, Lurgan and Warrenpoint.[3] The bishop's seat (cathedra) is located at the Cathedral Church of St. Patrick and St. Colman in Newry.


The monastery of Dromore is believed to have been founded in the sixth century by St Colman (called also Mocholmóc), probably the first Abbot of Dromore.[4] The first building was a small wattle and daub church on the northern bank of the River Lagan. The Diocese of Dromore was established through the reorganisation of the Irish Church in the late 12th century, possibly at the synod held in Dublin in 1192[1] by the papal legate, Múirges Ua hÉnna, Archbishop of Cashel. The diocese coincided with the territory of the Uí Echach Cobo, which later became the baronies of Upper and Lower Iveagh, and the lordship of Newry, County Down.[4]

During the 16th century Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church lost control of the old cathedral in Dormer to the Protestant Church of Ireland, which was wholly destroyed during the rebellion of 1641 and rebuilt twenty years later. In the 19th century, the Roman Catholic Church chose the site of a new cathedral at Newry, the largest town of County Down, and a place of great historical interest, situated at the head of Carlingford Lough. Work for building of Newry Cathedral begun in 1823 and was completed in 1829 [5] by Dr. Michael Blake (bishop of Dromore 1833–1860) who had been Vicar-General of Dublin and the restorer of the Irish College at Rome. This cathedral was enlarged and beautified by Bishop Henry O'Neill, who succeeded Bishop Thomas MacGivern in 1901.

Under Dr. McGivern's predecessor, Dr. John Pius Leahy, O.P. (1860–1890), a Dominican priory was founded on the Armagh side of Newry, and a church erected. The Poor Clares, who went to Newry from Harold's Cross, Dublin, in 1830, were for many years the only nuns north of the River Boyne. The Sisters of Mercy founded a convent at Newry in 1855.

Abbey Yard in Newry marks the site of the Cistercian abbey founded in 1144 by St. Bernard's friend, St. Malachy O'Morgair, and endowed in 1157 by Maurice O'Loughlin, High King of Ireland. It is called in the annals Monasterium de Viridi Ligno — a name given to Newry from the yew-tree, said to have been planted there by St. Patrick, the Irish name being Niubar (and sometimes Newrkintragh, "the yew at the head of the strand") which is Latinized Ivorium or Nevoracum, but more commonly as above Viride Lignum.

Sexual abuse[edit]

In 2012 the Parish Priest of Donaghmore in the diocese, Fr Terence Rafferty, was convicted of four counts of indecently assaulting a young girl in 2001. Five other offences were left on the books. The offences had been reported to the diocese in 2011: the diocese suspended him and promptly informed the relevant authorities.[6]


Main article: Bishop of Dromore

The following is a basic list of the bishops since the beginning of the 19th century.[3]

  • Edmund Derry (1801–1819)
  • Hugh O'Kelly (1820–1825)
  • Thomas Kelly (1826–1833)
  • Michael Blake (1833–1860)
  • John Pius Leahy, O.P. (1860–1890)
  • Thomas MacGivern (1890–1900)
  • Henry O'Neill (1901–1915)
  • Edward Mulhern (1916–1943)
  • Eugene O'Doherty (1944–1975)
  • Francis Gerard Brooks (1976–1999)
  • John McAreavey (1999–present)


  1. ^ a b Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1986). Handbook of British Chronology (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 348. ISBN 0-521-56350-X. 
  2. ^ Archdiocese of Armagh. Retrieved on 16 January 2009.
  3. ^ a b Diocese of Dromore. Catholic Hierarchy. Retrieved on 23 August 2009.
  4. ^ a b History. Diocese of Dromore. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  5. ^ John McCullagh (2 January 2008). "Newry Cathedral". Newry Journal. Retrieved 28 April 2010. 
  6. ^

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Diocese of Dromore". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. 

Coordinates: 54°10′29″N 6°20′17″W / 54.1746°N 6.3381°W / 54.1746; -6.3381