Conservation of Kilmanman Church brings community together

A community-based project to save the medieval Church at Kilmanman near Clonaslee in Laois from collapse, had a very successful first stage in 2019 and work is soon to start in 2020.

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.

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.

Committee members and Officials at Kilmanman Graveyard, Clonaslee: Photo Michael Scully

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.

Catherine Casey, Heritage Officer with Laois County Council continued “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 planned to continue work at Kilmanman in 2020 to stabilise the east gable with its fine tracery window and the west gable with the remains of the bell-cote.

The project to conserve Kilmanman Church was funded by Creative Ireland Laois and Laois County Council as part of the Creative Ireland Programme in Laois.