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Virtual Tour

The Spire and Steeple


The original tower carried no spire and contained a clock and bell. The clock was erected in 1678 and had a single hand. The bell was a gift to the Parish by Andrew Willoughby, Mayor of the Borough in 1683. In 1832 this bell was found to be cracked and had to be re-cast in Belfast.

In 1778 the old steeple was taken down and the present steeple and spire erected. A new clock was placed in it, together with the bells of the former steeple.

The Big Wind of 1839 blew down the original weather-cock and instead of putting back the weathercock again it was decided to erect a ball and cross in 1841.

In 1932 the tower and spire were renovated by William Young, Esq., and his wife Lily Margaret. The bells in the tower of Saint Nicholas' Church have rung out over the town and district for centuries to mark occasions of joy and times of mourning. They would have warned the district of Edward Bruce's invasion in 1314.

It may be of interest to note the traditional times on which they were sounded.

The Labour Bell rang at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. for six months, beginning on Saint Patrick's Day until October. The Curfew Bell rang at 9 p.m. each evening except Sunday, to warn those inside the walls of the town to leave as the gates were about to be closed for the night. The Market Bell rang for the market each Saturday at 9 a.m. The Funeral Bell toiled at intervals to mark the funeral of a townsman. Today the tradition is still retained by the ringing of the Labour Bell at 6 p.m. and the evening Curfew at 9 o'clock. As these bells ring out each day we are reminded of the 'oft remembered days of long ago.'


St Nicholas Sketch