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Doon Fort, Co.Donegal Credit: Abarta Heritage


The Adopt a Monument programme brings conservation to the heart of the community

6 min read

The Adopt a Monument programme brings conservation to the heart of the community

6 min read


The Adopt a Monument programme brings conservation to the heart of the community

The Adopt a Monument grant scheme, supported through the Creative Ireland programme since 2019, and delivered by the Heritage Council has enabled local communities to work together in conserving and protecting their adopted monuments with a total of €80,000 allocated by the Heritage Council through the Creative Ireland Programme.

15 groups were awarded funding in 2019 and have been busy with conservation works, research and investigation and community engagement projects. Here’s a look at these projects and the incredible time and effort being donated by local community groups.

Malin Well Old Church, Co.Donegal

Spectacularly located along the coast of the Inishowen peninsula in the northernmost tip of Co. Donegal, Malin Well Old Church is surrounded by a wealth of built and natural heritage including a hermit’s cave known as the ‘Wee House of Malin’, a holy well and a promontory fort. This ruined church is cherished by the local community but its precarious setting is a threat to the structure. Malin Well Old Church Conservation Group has adopted this monument and aim to conserve it and thoroughly research its history.

Doon Fort, Co.Donegal

Doon Fort is undoubtedly one of the most spectacularly picturesque heritage sites in Ireland. It is situated on a small island in the middle of Loughadoon, just outside the charming village of Ardara in County Donegal. The Adopt a Monument Scheme has been working with the local community group to help record the site, manage the vegetation that threatens to undermine the walls, to establish a conservation plan, improve access and interpretation and to help to raise awareness of this wonderful monument.

Kilbarron Castle, Co. Donegal

Kilbarron Castle is a medieval castle and the birthplace of Mícheál Ó Cléirigh, located near Ballyshannon in the south of County Donegal. The ruins of the castle are currently in a very precarious condition, and the Kilbarron Castle Conservation Group applied to be part of Adopt a Monument Ireland to help to protect, conserve and interpret the remains of the site.

Rath Church, Co.Cavan

Killeshandra Tidy Towns Committee applied to adopt the historic church known as Church of the Rath Killeshandra. It is from this church that the town takes its name. The Church of the Rath is a wonderfully atmospheric graveyard that has ancient origins. The church is one of the few Jacobean style churches remaining in Ireland and has national architectural importance.

Moygara Castle, Co. Sligo

Located in the rolling countryside of southern County Sligo, Moygara Castle is one of the finest Gaelic castles in the north-west of Ireland. It dates from the late C16th and early C17th and is associated with the O’Gara clan. The castle stands on eight acres of land which is now in the private ownership of the O’Neill Family. The ruin is distinguished by its large square bawn with residential towers at each of the four corners and gatehouse in the western wall. Moygara Castle Research and Conservation Group has been working for more than a decade now to highlight this significant castle.

Mountbellew Walled Garden, Co. Galway

The extensive eighteenth century Mountbellew Walled Garden was once part of the large Bellew estate. The high limestone walls of the garden stand over 7m high and enclose a large area. The gardens are now owned by Coillte, which has granted permission to the group to begin to conserve and manage the extensive gardens.

St. Finian’s Church & Graveyard, Lucan, Co. Dublin

St. Finian’s church and graveyard in Lucan, Co. Dublin dates from the 11th century but has been ruined since the 17th century. It is known colloquially as ‘Esker Church’, reflecting its location on the Esker Riada, a glacial feature which formed a highway across ancient Ireland known as the ‘Slí Mhór’. Located in the middle of modern housing, it is one of the most historic structures in the area, but has suffered from neglect and anti-social behaviour. The Society of Old Lucan has adopted this monument; they want to learn more about it, to raise local awareness, and to ensure its protection. Thanks to funding an architectural assessment and a geophysical survey were undertaken in 2019 which identified possible structural remains of an earlier church in the grounds.

St. Peter’s Church & Graveyard, Portlaoise, Co. Laois

Old St Peters Church Portlaoise is one of the oldest buildings surviving in the town and dates back to the middle of the sixteenth century. The Portlaoise Tidy Towns Group wish to conserve the historic fabric of the site, and to recreate a place for peaceful reflection within the busy town centre of Portlaoise.

Graves of the Leinstermen, Co. Tipperary

Arra Historical & Archaeological Society has adopted the Graves of the Leinstermen and aims to find out more about what the site really is. With funding from the Heritage Council through the Creative Ireland Programme 2019, the society appointed Earthsound Geophysics to undertake a topographical survey and a photogrammetry survey of the site to increase community understanding of the monument.

Kilmurry Lime Kiln, Co. Clare

With funding, Kilmurry Tidy Towns undertook an Architectural Heritage Impact Assessment along with emergency conservation works to the kiln in order to make it an accessible heritage destination for the local community.

Kilkerrin Battery Fort, Labasheeda, Co. Clare

With funding the Labasheeda Projects Group/ St. Kieran’s Community Group commissioned an ecological survey of Kilkerrin Battery Fort and immediate environs with community involvement to increase understanding of the fort’s ecological significance.

Ballyogan / Brandon Hill Moated Site

There is limited evidence of features above ground on this moated site but Tyndall Mountain Club have adopted this enigmatic structure and want to learn more about it through a programme of archaeological investigation and historical research. Thanks to funding in 2019, the group commissioned Geoaerospace to undertake a LiDAR survey as a first step to discovering more about the site.

Knockboy Church, Co. Waterford

The Knockboy Church Conservation Group have worked with support from Waterford County Council to resurface the old boreen that leads to the graveyard and carried out a graveyard survey and historical analysis, with all of the information detailed on a large panel at the entrance to the site. With support from the Heritage Council, the group have also had an Archaeological Assessment of the site carried out by archaeologist Dave Pollock and a Conservation Assessment of the site to identify priorities for the conservation of the church.

Roundhill Motte & Bailey, Lismore, Co. Waterford

Lismore Heritage Company Ltd was established in order to help preserve and promote the cultural and heritage attractions of Lismore, west Waterford and its environs for home and overseas visitors. The group applied for the scheme as the site at Round Hill is currently overgrown by vegetation and almost inaccessible for visitors. The Adopt a Monument team helped to provide advice in helping to conserve the monument and to provide better access for visitors.

Gallowshill Motte, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford

Led by volunteers from Waterford County Museum, local community groups from Dungarvan and Lismore submitted a joint application for two medieval forts in County Waterford. Gallowshill Community Archaeology applied for the scheme to find out more about the monument and to help raise awareness of the site for visitors and locals. A geophysical survey of the fort was undertaken in 2015 and in July 2016 and the community ran a very successful Medieval Fair Day as part of National Heritage Week to raise awareness, which was featured on RTÉ Nationwide. In 2017, the group carried out an exciting archaeological dig which revealed fascinating insights into the monument.

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