Community Monuments Fund


The Community Monuments Fund is a new programme which aims to assist with conservation, research and interpretation of archaeological monuments by communities and private owners. The scheme is funded by the National Monuments Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and is administered in Laois by the Heritage Office of Laois County Council.

Community Monuments Fund 2022

There are five Laois CMF projects in 2022. The sites are profiled here and details will be updated later in the year when projects are underway.
Ballyadams Castle in the east of the county is six-storey late medieval structure with rounded towers at the southeast and northwest corners and an imposing entrance way between. Attached to the east is a large rectangular seventeenth-century three-storey fortified house. The tower is in good condition but the house is very fragile.
Ballyadams was constructed during the reign of Henry VII by Adam O’More and was taken by the Geraldines in the rebellion of Silken Thomas. In 1546 the Lord Justice with the Earl of Desmond came with their armies to Laois and Ballyadams was given to John Bowen (description courtesy the National Monuments Service, see www.archaeology.ie for full details).
Under the Community Monuments Fund 2022 a Conservation Plan for the castle will be drawn up, to guide future conservation and management. Led by Conservation Architects Howley Hayes Cooney, the team will also include Archaeologist Colm Flynn, Structural Engineers Cora engineering and ecologists with Bird Watch Ireland coming on board to advise on enhancing the site for birdlife.
The plan is starting now and will be complete by the end of the year.
This is a partnership project of Laois Heritage Society, Laois Heritage Office and the Castle owners Shirley and David Butler. The partners are all grateful for the support of the #cmf and the National Monuments Service.
Clonreher Castle
Clonreher Castle just outside Portlaoise dates to the early 1500s. It is a four storey tower house with projecting five storey towers at the Northeast and Southwest corners, built of greywacke, a type of sandstone. The castle was probably owned by the O’Dowlings, one of the seven septs of Laois before it was granted to John Dunkirley by the crown in 1550. It later belonged to the Hartpoles of Shrule Castle (description courtesy of National Monuments Service, www.archaeology.ie).
Under the Community Monuments Fund 2022 a Conservation Plan for the castle will be undertaken. Led by Conservation Architects Howley Hayes Cooney, the team will also include Archaeologist Colm Flynn, Structural Engineers Cora engineering and ecologists with BirdWatch Ireland coming on board to advise on enhancing the site for birdlife, particularly barn owls which are known to be using the castle already.
The plan is starting now and will be complete by the end of the year.
This is a partnership project of Clonreher Castle Conservation Group, Laois Heritage Office and the Castle owner Basil Broomfield. The group members are very grateful for the support of the #cmf and the National Monuments Service.
Rahin Church is in the village of Ballylynan. In the 1302-06 Ecclesiastical Taxation of Ireland the ‘Chapel de Balylonan’ [Ballylinan] was valued at 40 shillings. This medieval church was described in the late 19th century as ‘the ruins of an ancient church, measuring about 40 feet [12.1m] in length, by 16 feet [4.8m] in width.
The church is fragile and in urgent need of masonry conservation, which will be undertaken this year with thanks to support from  the Community Monuments Fund of the National Monuments Service.
Works specified in a condition report carried out earlier this year will be carried out by a skilled stonemason under the supervision of David Kelly Partnership consulting engineers and Colm Flynn Archaeologist.
Dysart Enos Church
A Conservation Plan was published for Dysart Enos Church in 2014, and this year will see phase 2 of conservation work at the site, under the guidance of Richard McLoughlin Conservation Architect and Colm Flynn Archaeologist. This year’s work, with the help of funding from the Community Monuments Fund, will see works to conserve the window openings and the chancel arch completed.
The church is looked after by the Local community and the Dysart Enos Conservation Committee. Photos courtesy John Grace/Dysart Enos Church Conservation

Community Monuments Fund 2021

The Community Monuments Fund in Laois in 2021 funded six projects. Follow links below for full details of the projects or to download reports.

  • Conservation of Masonry at Killabban Medieval Church
  • Conservation of Dysart Enos Church
  • Conservation of boundary wall at Old St Peter’s Church, Portlaoise
  • Research into archaeology at the Heath, Portlaoise
  • Conservation Management Plan for St Bridget’s Church, Kilbreedy
  • Installation of Interpretation at Killabban Church

An additional project led by Carlow County Museum saw the grave effigy of medieval knight Robert Hartpole conserved and returned from Portarlington to Carlow.

A reconstruction of what Killabban might have looked like in the 7th Century, by Marc Guernon (c)

Community Monuments Fund 2020

The Community Monuments Fund came into being in September 2020. Projects completed in 2020 with full details and reports as relevant are below.

Conservation of Masonry at Killabban Church

Conservation Plan for Dysartgallen Medieval Church and Graveyard

Conservation Plan Phase I for Kilmanman Graveyard

Recording memorials of Old Lea Graveyard

Conservation work underway at Dysart Enos Church, Ratheniska