Clonaslee Community celebrates successful conservation of medieval church

The community of Clonaslee has celebrated the end of another successful season of conservation at the medieval Kilmanman Church just outside the village.


The conservation project which started in 2019, is funded by the Creative Ireland Programme in Laois and Laois County Council, with the help of local community fundraising. This year’s work saw the conservation of the west gable with its fragile bell cote and the east gable with its beautiful carved medieval window. Some work was also carried out to stabilise the  19th century Dunne Mausoleum adjacent to the older church.

Kilmanman Church Restoration Committee members, members of Clonaslee High Nelly Club, with Catherine Casey, Laois Heritage Officer, Colm Flynn, Archaeologist and Jethro Sheen, Sheen Stoneworks at Kilmanman Church, Clonaslee. Photo: Alf Harvey

Catherine Casey, Heritage Officer with Laois County Council said “the support of the Creative Ireland programme was crucial in getting this conservation work started and the aim of the project – in addition to saving the medieval fabric of the church – was to build on the sense of place associated with Kilmanman to develop the capacity and resilience of the local community. The project has been enormously successful in this, and in addition to impressive local fundraising, the local people have been on hand to help with all aspects of the work, with the community assisting with management of vegetation, providing water and weathered stone, helping to interpret the archaeology and showing huge hospitality to the conservation team.”


She continued “ On behalf of Laois County Council and the project team, I’d like to thank most sincerely the Kilmanman Restoration Committee, Fr O’Reilly, Chris Horan, Tommy Kelly, David Brickley, Fred Mathews and Denis Feighery, the Clonaslee Graveyard Committee represented by Denis Feighery, The High Nelly Club Clonaslee, the Local Employment Scheme and Caitriona Cashin of Clonaslee Development Association and the many people living near Kilmanman who donated money and also gave so freely of their time to help.”

Fred Mathews, Chris Horan and Tommy Kelly at Kilmanman Church, Clonaslee. Photo Alf Harvey (Missing from Photo Fr O’Reilly, David Brickley and Denis Feighery)

The work this year was planned by Conservation Engineer Aoife Murphy working with David Kelly Partnership Consulting Engineers and overseen by archaeologist Colm Flynn. The contract to carry out the highly skilled lime mortar work and masonry conservation was awarded to Jethro Sheen of Sheen Stonework in Gort Co Galway.


Conservation Management Plan

In addition to the practical conservation work on site this year, the Kilmanman group was successful in sourcing Heritage Council support for a full Conservation Management Plan on the site and this was also started this year, with Conservation Architect Richard McLoughlin working with archaeologist Colm Flynn to carry out a measured survey of the site, and an analysis of the known history to date. The community hopes that phase II of the Conservation Plan will be completed in 2021, if funding is available.

Kilmanman Medieval Church, Clonaslee. Photo Alf Harvey

The conservation project at Kilmanman will continue in 2021 with conservation of the North Wall high on the priority list for the next step in this important conservation project.


The conservation work at Kilmanman was funded by The Creative Ireland Programme in Laois and Laois County Council. The Conservation Management Plan was funded by the local community and the Heritage Council


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