Recently Minister of Heritage Malcom Noonan TD announced €126,000 for 24 projects across County Galway under the Built Heritage Scheme, Senator Aisling Dolan welcomed the news that the Presbyterian Church in Society St. was granted €5,000.
The funds will go towards the further restoration of the church with external and internal joinery repair in the historic building. The building has now received over €40,000 worth of state Heritage funding over the past decade including a window preservation project in 2016.
In 1844 the congregation of Ballinasloe was organised, principally through the efforts of Rev. John Edmonds, who had been appointed to the itinerating department of the General Assembly's Home Mission. Soon after this, the church and manse were erected.
Considerable delay took place in procuring a suitable site, as the Earl of Clancarty was unwilling to afford facilities for the erection in his town of what he called a ‘Separatist’ place of worship. But the members of the infant congregation were resolute, and they succeeded at last in obtaining a valuable and suitable site.
The Gothic Revival form of this church is characteristic of its era and is underlined by elements such as the pointed arch openings, the pinnacles and crenellated tower. Prominently sited, the imposing elevation, enhanced by the good quality stonework and buttresses make it a notable feature in the streetscape.
The Church had active congregational activity till the early 90s and was sold towards the end of the Celtic Tiger era 2005 / 2006. Local Auctioneer Michael Mc Cullagh took charge of the communion table – getting it fully restored personally and arranged it to be deposited in the new the Library in memory of the Presbyterian community of Ballinasloe. He returned the memorial plaques which contained names like Bowden, Davidson, Cooke and Pepper who all died in World War 1.
Micheal had a personal interest in non-Catholic faiths contribution to town as he explains “My Great, Great, Great grandmother was a Rachel Hamilton from Scotland who did the unforgivable at the time, by marrying a Catholic and losing her €2K dowry and fled to Co Tyrone where my father was born in Plumbridge in 1906 and died in Ballinasloe in 1940.
“That church was probably the first church I ever saw as a child, St Johns the 2nd. as a young Boy I used to help ( Joe Kelly ‘s Pub grandfather ) Mike Kelly, who lived in a bungalow up behind the Whigham Hall, stoke the boiler and fill with turf for the 3 O Clock service on winter Sundays." recalls the sprightly Michael.
The roof was completely restored some few years ago and emergency repair work was supported to maintain the fabric of the building. Current Church owner Engineer Gerry Dolan stated:
"We have no short-term plans for this project, we are very much taking it step-by-step as we try to bring the church back to it's former glory. It is very much so a long-term restoration project."
Senator Aisling Dolan stated: “I’m delighted to see funds this year for the Presbyterian Church – it’s such an iconic building and these funds support the ongoing work by individuals to bring this back to its former glory.”
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