Our parish was born some 1,500 years ago, died, and was reborn in the mid-20th century. The ancient parish of Drumbo, centred on the edge of a ridge where the drumlin country of County Down starts to descend into the Lagan Valley, was reputedly founded by Saint Patrick in the fifth century. The only traces of that monastic settlement today are the stump of a round tower in the Presbyterian churchyard In Drumbo village, close to the medieval parish church’s foundations in the graveyard. Drumbo’s church became extinct about 1600 and for three centuries no Mass was celebrated in this area of County Down. Saint Mochumma, the first Abbot of Drumbo, who died in 506, is commemorated by a stained glass window in our present church.
In 1943, Patrick Mallon gifted an acre of land to build a church and that autumn Bishop Mageean re-established the parish of Drumbo after a lapse of 350 years. Thanks to work led by the dauntless Father Daniel McFerran, the first parish priest, the new red-brick church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was dedicated on 30 June 1946, with a concrete floor and 100 chairs for seating. In 1951 the parish had 184 parishioners and St. Joseph’s school opened in 1955 with two teachers and 45 pupils.
Drumbo and Carryduff are about six miles from central Belfast. With suburban housing development south of the city, Carryduff changed in character and the parish’s Catholic population had risen from about 100 in 1946 to 2,500 by 1986. The community had outgrown its facilities and site. New land was purchased and Bishop Walsh dedicated the present magnificent church on 10 November 2002.
St Ita’s school opened in September 2005 in and moved to its new building, with a nursery unit, on a semi-rural site at Alderwood Hill, Purdysburn in March 2006; the Parish Centre (opened 1984) was refurbished the same year. The red-brick church was demolished in 2009. In its place, St Joseph’s new state of the art school building opened in September 2010 and the new nursery in November 2010.
Today the parish of Drumbo and Carryduff has exemplary facilities on its semi-rural sites nestling in the Castlereagh Hills and at nearby Purdysburn. The centrepiece is the beautiful modern church. There are a parish centre, ample car parking, a well-tended graveyard, a parochial house, two modern primary schools, two nurseries, playing fields, trees and attractive greenery. There are attractive views across the countryside, towards where the first Drumbo church was built by the faithful some 1,500 years ago.