Restoration Project

It was felt in 2004 that the church was in need of urgent repair. Parish structures needed to be put in place to assess and prioritise existing needs and to decide on a specific plan of action. The first meeting of the Parish Pastoral and Administration Committee took place on 28th February 2005, consisting of three subcommittees: the Building Committee, the Finance & Property Committee and the Pastoral & Liturgy Committee. During a three year period from 2005 to 2008 a total number of 51 meetings took place, indicating the seriousness and thoroughness of parishioners in planning for the future. The minutes of those meetings tell the story of a reflective and careful consideration by parishioners of their identity as a believing community, their appreciation of St Mary’s Church with its rich history and its unique features and of their resolutions regarding the strategic actions needed to ensure their viability and vitality well into the future.

Some important conclusions were reached. As well as solving the problem of water penetration in the church, it was necessary to adapt the church to new liturgical requirements. Original church drawings by John Papworth, the architect, dating back to 1834, were obtained. These drawings included a spire on the tower and an extended chancel. These are included in the new plans. Other features include: a processional route to the church, a new roof, new gutters and downpipes, pick outside plaster and replaster in lime render, restore stonework, add new sacristy, convert existing sacristy into Adoration Room/Liturgy Room, enlarge choir area, reorder sanctuary, relocate baptistry, renew/replace pews, repair window….New parish offices will also be provided.

In early 2006 contact was made with Joe Gallagher, Heritage Officer of Donegal County Council, who referred the committee to Claire Mc Callan, Conservation Officer with Donegal County Council. The Building Committee had a number of meetings with her and she gave great encouragement and very positive and practical advice as to the way forward.

Mullarkey Pedersen Architects, Derry, were appointed in January 2007, having received 16 expressions of interest in the project and having interviewed a shortlist of 6. The fact that they had an excellent track record as Conservation Architects was a major consideration in their appointment.

McCann Brothers (Ire) were appointed as main contractor for the project, with work to begin on 3rd May 2011.

The total cost of the project is €2.5million. The Restoration Fund presently stands at €1,623, 243.65. Finding the final third of the cost is daunting.

An online application has been submitted to the Heritage Council in March 2011 for Significant Places of Public Worship Grants.

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