St Tassach’s Church

Saul & Ballee Parish

In the sub-denomintion of the townland of Raholp called Banaghan or Banagh are the ruins of the ancient church of Raholp, locally called Church-Moyley. In building the walls yellow clay was been used instead of mortar. This was the ancient church of Rath-Colpa, over which presided St.Tassach, the bishop who administered Communion to St. Patrick when the saint was dying in the neighbouring church of Saul. ST. Tassach seems to have been the only Bishop of the church of Raholp – the early annals do not record any succession.

Fr. O’Neill seems to have been the immediate successor of Fr. Magarry who died in 1764. Fr. O’Neill was a native of Hilltown. When in the parish of Saul, he resided in Ballystokes, and afterwards in Walshestown. He intended to erect a chapel at Carrowcarlin; and having gone to Hilltown to collect funds for the building, he died there in 1771.

He was succeeded by Fr. Morgan, who had been P.P. of Kilcoo. He built the chapel at Carrowcarlin, which his predecessor had started. He resided at Ballystokes and died in 1775.

The chapel is dedicated to St. Tassach.


Welcome to Saul Parish, from the Irish sabhall phadraig meaning Patrick’s barn. It is claimed that when St Patrick came to Ireland in 432, strong currents swept his boat through the Strangford Lough tidal narrows, and he landed where the Slaney river flows into the lough. The local chieftan Dichu was quickly converted and gave him a barn, and it was here that St Patrick founded his first church in Ireland at Saul.

Nearby on the crest of Slieve Patrick is a huge statue of St Patrick with bronze panels showing scenes from his life. St Patrick was born near Dumbarton in Scotland in the year 387, died at Saul on 17th March 461, and is buried in nearby Downpatrick. Our church today is a modern church having gone through extensive renovations in 2008, and has 2000 families most of whom have very close ties with the church.

The parish is led by Fr. Paul Alexander pp. Mass is celebrated every day, and a full schedule of our mass times can be viewed on this website.

Saul & Ballee Parish