The See of Dromore was founded in the sixth century by Colman of Dromore (called also Mocholmoc). From a prophecy said to have been uttered by St. Patrick, sixty years before, Archbishop Healy ("Life and Writings of St. Patrick", p. 494) infers that St. Patrick claimed no immediate spiritual jurisdiction over the territory of Iveagh which forms mainly the Diocese of Dromore, but willed that territory to be reserved for a bishop of the native race of Dal-Araide — namely, St. Colman, who founded his see there about the year 514, some sixty years after St. Patrick founded the See of Armagh.
Dromore has had its own independent jurisdiction ever since. The old cathedral of Dromore, which had been taken by the Protestants, was burnt down by the Irish insurgents in 1641, and rebuilt by Bishop Taylor twenty years later; the Catholic church was erected later. The seat of the cathedral, however, was transferred some two hundred years ago to Newry, the largest town of County Down, and a place of great historical interest, situated at the head of Carlingford Lough. Newry Cathedral was begun in 1825 and completed by Dr. Michael Blake (1833-1860) who had been Vicar-General of Dublin and the restorer of the Irish College at Rome. This cathedral was enlarged and beautified by Bishop Henry O'Neill, who succeeded Bishop McGivern in 1901.
Under Dr. McGivern's predecessor, Dr. John Pius Leahy, O.P. (1860-1890), a Dominican priory was founded on the Armagh side of Newry, and a church erected. The Poor Clares, who went to Newry from Harold's Cross, Dublin, in 1830, were for many years the only nuns north of the River Boyne. The Sisters of Mercy founded a convent at Newry in 1855.
Abbey Yard in Newry marks the site of the Cistercian abbey founded in the year 1144 by St. Bernard's friend, St. Malachy O'Morgair, and endowed in 1157 by Maurice O'Loughlin, King of All Ireland. It is called in the annals Monasterium de Viridi Ligno — a name given to Newry from the yew-tree, said to have been planted there by St. Patrick, the Irish name being Niubar (and sometimes Newrkintragh, "the yew at the head of the strand") which is latinized Ivorium or Nevoracum, but more commonly as above Viride Lignum.