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Decades of conflict has left our famous Iubhar Cinn Tragha with out countless of its historical artefacts. along with this expert consensus currently states that we have no remaining abbey buildings in Castle Street today. I dont beg to differ, I can prove other wise, this eventuality will come soon.
In 2006, with government approval & Lottery grant of approx 1 point five million sterling, along with an injection of a similar amount from the rate payers, our council went about redefineing Newry's hugely important ancient cradle of built and hidden heritage.
We were told by our council and its representitives, that the redefineing of our ancient history was imperitave because of the supposed discovery of a long lost English Castle, which they claim was built by Nicholas Bagenal who was a Captain of the British army In 1568.
The strory that goes with this drawing by Robert Lythe and this ludicrous claim by Newry and Mourne gets clearer everey day, its a tale that hasnt an Iota of common sense
They targeted the two very ancient Abbey Church buildings in Castle Street, which Harris recalls in 1744 although the picture above is a monastic building , it resembles no other buildings in the abbey complex. The same picture above is claimed by Newry and Mournes historians as being the lost Castle,our history has been turned on its head to suit this fantasy of some so called achedemic.
Our ancient Patrician monastery complex,and the Cistercian one that restructured it has been bespoiled again by ludicrus tales and fabrications. Sadly this unique link to Newry's rich diverse heritage, has been shut down seemingly forever to suit the History of the aggressor. The lack of local champion's and the overwhelming dearth of money from Lottery and the unsuspecting rate payer, brings us a new Newry, which the world sadly see's as the truth.
However there is me, Im not an easy man to sweep aside when it comes to reasearch and telling the truth about whats going on here.
To this day, no one knows how far this abbey site extends or how revelatory its historical secrets could prove. The only firm conclusion to be drawn so far is that this ancient abbey site represents a people's history waiting to be discovered which will, reinforce an embattled local and national identity and pride.
Above is a hugley Important water colour attributed to the esteemed cartographer Robert Lythe who was a military engineer for Queen Elizabeth in the 16th century, while not re known for his drawings, he is quoted as having others draw for him, he was known for building earth embankments and barricades and the likes. This is the only known picture of a Cistercian tower house.
While the painting is not signed or dated, its claimed by Newry and Mournes historians as being created sometime in the year of 1568, however this date is wrong, and while I can supply the correct date of the commision and the day that the painting was completed, at this moment in time I Intend to remain silent.
This house stood at the top of Mill Street Newry, it was part of the Newryabbey complex which was a gigantic affair at the date afore mentioned. The history of this Newry property is well recorded. Harris In his Ancient and Present History of Down 1744 tells us that it was Needhams Castle at this his date of writing and that it was formerly the house of the abbot and that it was a very old building.
The abbot was called Patrick Crelly who recieved this building and others in the town along with extensive lands to the North of Newry for services rendered to the Crown, while he was seen as a Catholic Cistercian, he was to become a protestant at a later date. On recipte of this grant of lands from the Bagenal etate, he set about renovating the building during which he removed the central tower that you see at the front and errected castelated tower's on either side of the building, which you can see below where they are seen in a much later work of art.
Crellys heirs are seen selling this Castle and lands to the Hill family, from Hillsborough who used it as thier Newry Castle. Its remains were finally swept away in 1965 during a council clean up of the area. The castle still remains in local folk lore as that of Crellys Castle, Harris also mentions this Castle as the only Castle standing in Newry in 1744.
Tower houses of this type were typical Cistercian buildings, most In Ireland were seen in the 15cent getting an up grade during which extra floors were added along with a prison cell in the basement which had a steel ring in the middle of the floor to hold the poor unfortunates that may have fallen away from the Lord. For more information on these abbot house up grades the Yorkshire Cistercian web site has an abundance of it. The general tower house outline can be seen on the cistercian map of Newry below.
Here is a view of Crellys Castle at a much later date with its new towers on the sides, Its inside the blue lines, and while it not the clearest of picture,s its an old map, the castle is seen at the top of Mill street,with the houses on high street above it, Castle street so called because of this castle is seen to the right of the roof, at this period in time the building belonged to the Neehams, there were approximetly 145 houses in the town,the Castle at Ballybot can be seen on another section of the map, this and the ruin on Chapel street are the only three Castle buildings in the town, obviously there is no Castle in the Abbey grounds, this area of this map will be seen at a later date.
Updated May 2013
Pictures are Crown Copy Right.