Portaferry Presbyterian Church
The church is renowned as one of the finest neoclassical buildings in Northern Ireland. In an earlier church on the site, preached one of the most charismatic and respected local leaders of the 1798 Rebellion. William Steel Dickson was minister from 1780 until his imprisonment during the uprising. Much admired for his integrity, he joined the Society of United Irishmen in 1791 where his obvious ability led him to become Adjutant General of the County Down forces. Betrayed by an informer, he was arrested in Ballynahinch two days before the first Northern conflict of the Rebellion, the Battle of Antrim.
Though never charged with an offence, he was held in a prison ship in Belfast Lough before being transferred to Inverness in Scotland. Freed in 1802, he returned to Ulster to become minister of Second Keady in County Armagh. He died, a pauper, in 1824 and is buried in Clifton Street burying ground in North Belfast. An Ulster History Blue Plaque on the church and several street names, commemorate his life.