Medieval Laois church ruins saved from collapse

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Medieval Laois church ruins saved from collapse

Kilmanman Graveyard committee members, council officials and the local community at Kilmanman Graveyard, Clonaslee. Picture: Michael Scully

A community-based project to save the medieval Church at Kilmanman near Clonaslee in Laois from collapse, has had a very successful first stage.

Fears for the survival of the medieval church ruins had been raised by members of the local graveyard committee, and help was sought from the Culture Team at Laois County Council.

Above: At Kilmanman Graveyard, Clonaslee were Catherine Casey Heritage Officer in Laois County Council, Fred Mathews, Tom Kelly, Fr O'Reilly PP, Chris Horan and Muireann Ni Chonaill Arts Officer.

Catherine Casey is Heritage Officer with Laois County Council.

“The Medieval Church at Kilmanman was in a very fragile state, so conservation work to stabilise it was urgent,” she said.

“The church is part of the rich heritage of the site, which we believe goes back to early Christian times. The survival of the church is so important to the people of this area, as can be seen by the huge number of community volunteers involved this year,” Ms Casey said.

The conservation project was supported with funding from the Creative Ireland Laois Programme, and supported by Clonaslee Community Development Association and local residents.

Technical advice was provided by Mountmellick based archaeologist Colm Flynn, and experienced conservation engineer, Aoife Murphy, working for David Kelly Partnership.

As the site is so sensitive, permission for the works was sought from the National Monuments Service of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and conservation work was carried out by stonemason Jethro Sheen.

Muireann Ní Chonaill is Arts Officer with Laois County Council and the Creative Ireland Co-ordinator for Laois.

“This church and graveyard are clearly so important to the local community, they really encompass everything we mean by a Sense of Place, and we were delighted that the Creative Ireland programme in Laois was able to support the valuable conservation work here this year,” she said.

It is hoped to continue work at Kilmanman next year to stabilise the east gable with its fine tracery window and the west gable with the remains of the bell-cote.

Creative Ireland Laois funded the project as part of the Creative Ireland Programme in partnership with Laois County Council.

Below: Peter Mc Guirk, Chris Horan, Eugene Mc Guirk and Denis Guckivan.

Bottom: Fr O'Reilly PP and Goretti Conroy. Photos by Michael Scully