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Dundrum

Dundrum is a village of just over 1000 people, situated four miles north of Newcastle on the shore of Dundrum Inner Bay.  Its name – Irish: Dún Droma, fort on the ridge – refers to the ancient reason for its existence.  The substantial medieval ruin of Dundrum Castle, built on the site of earlier fortifications, still overlooks the village, and the land and sea routeways which converged here.  The harbour was formerly an important part of village life, particularly for the import of coal, but it closed in the mid-1980s, and new housing is increasingly creating a dormitory for people who work elsewhere.  The National Trust’s Murlough nature reserve, important for its beach and sand dunes, is situated between Dundrum and Newcastle.

The earliest known Methodist service in Dundrum was held in 1821 by a passing Methodist itinerant preacher.  Around 1873 the Rev William Lovett preached here, but, for some time previous to that, services were held in the rural townland of Clara, about three miles west of Dundrum, in the houses of the Ashe, Hill, Truesdale and Burke families.  Mr and Mrs William Quinn of Dundrum and a Mr Agar of Murlough were influential in establishing the nucleus of the Dundrum Methodist Congregation as a society which met in their houses.

The erection of the church in Dundrum was commenced in 1882 by the Rev Thomas Foster, and finished during the ministry of the Rev James Kirkwood, through whose influence the manse was also built.  It is understood that members of the congregation gave considerable help in the building of the church.  The Irish Evangelist of 1 June 1883, in the section ‘Methodist Intelligence, Belfast District News’, records that ‘A new chapel at Dundrum, costing £400, has been opened during the year, having a debt of £175.’  The Irish Christian Advocate of 7 September 1883 reported on a fortnight of special services during which ‘our new church was well filled, and a blessed influence was felt…. We have had a very precious work of God here, especially among our young people.’

The Methodist Conference of 1884 formed the Dundrum and Castlewellan Circuit with the Rev James Kirkwood as the first Superintendent.  At that time the Circuit included the churches at Castlewellan (built in 1867), Newcastle (1826), and Annalong (1842).  In 1967 the Dundrum and Newcastle societies combined with the Downpatrick society to form the present Circuit.

In the 1980s the Methodist Youth Department built a residential chalet in the grounds of the church and manse.  The buildings are now shared with Project Evangelism, based in Murlough House, and the partnership has proved fruitful for both parties in the work of God.

The local society is small but growing and very much welcomes visiting groups and individuals.  It is our prayer that all who come will find help and blessing.

 

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