Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD has announced the allocation of €60,000 to St. Mary’s Collegiate Church for the urgent conservation and preservation of a heritage structure of national significance. The award was one of five made to local authorities around the country and will specifically go towards crucial restoration works to the floor of the medieval Church.
In making the announcement, Minister Deenihan said: “I am delighted to be able to support urgently needed conservation work to these highly important structures. Our national built heritage is a valuable asset which, as well as enriching our environment, generates considerable economic activity in tourism, construction and related industries.”
The floor of the central aisle of the 13th century national monument had become a health and safety hazard due to subsidence and without intervention the Church faced restricted access or even closure as a place of worship. Various repairs had been undertaken throughout the years, but had failed to resolve the underlying issues causing the subsidence.
It is anticipated that the works will improve the overall durability of the central aisle and ensure the stability of the pews. Youghal Town Council had been guardian and caretaker of St. Mary’s Collegiate Church since 2005; when a 999-year lease was negotiated between the Council and the Church of Ireland Representative Church Body. With the changes to the local government structure that guardianship has passed onto Cork County Council. Helen Mulcahy of Youghal’s Municipal District Office welcomed the announcement and in the process thanked the various bodies who worked on completing the application including The Youghal Socio-Economic Development Group, Youghal Heritage Committee, Consulting Engineers, Archaeologists and also the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. “The allocation is recognition of Youghal’s ongoing efforts to safeguard and protect its heritage and is an indication of the on-going commitment of the Department to Youghal and its future as a Heritage Town of distinction”. Said Helen.
St. Mary’s Collegiate Church is one of the historic gems of Youghal and was the main place of religious worship for the medieval townsfolk. It is a rare Irish example of a large medieval parish church; and has seen building, expansion, destruction and repairs from the 13th Century to today.