Five historic monuments across Ireland to benefit from expertise and mentoring


Five monuments across Ireland have been selected for inclusion in the Heritage Council’s Adopt a Monument Scheme 2024. The scheme offers communities expertise, mentoring and support to help them to care for their local heritage.

The sites included in this year’s scheme are an early medieval church and cross that overlook Lough Foyle at Cooley, near Moville in Co Donegal; a ringfort at Rathbeagh, which stands above the River Nore in north Co Kilkenny; a nineteenth century summerhouse set in a dramatic mountainous landscape on the shore of Lough Altan, Co Donegal; the historic church and graveyard at Bailieborough, Co Cavan, and the impressive ruins of the medieval Court Abbey in Lavagh, Co Sligo

Working in partnership with communities and State bodies, the Adopt a Monument Scheme helps to ensure the sustainable future of the adopted monuments. It also offers communities a way of promoting pride in place and pride in Ireland’s past, as well as opportunities to develop and understand the story of a locality, to work collaboratively, to get active, participate in community development and to boost tourism, business and employment opportunities.

Following a call for applications in October 2023, a large number of community groups applied to adopt a monument in their locality. The five sites were chosen following a selection process that also involved the National Monuments Service, The Heritage Council, The Discovery Programme, a community archaeologist and Abarta Heritage.

Speaking about the sites chosen, Chief Executive of the Heritage Council, Virginia Teehan said:

"As custodians of our nation's heritage, we recognise that this Scheme is not merely about safeguarding our historic monuments; it's about safeguarding our collective memory, our identity, and our stories, and the active involvement of local communities is paramount. We aim to empower these individuals, providing them with the resources and support they need to make a tangible difference. The impact of caring for our local monuments transcends mere restoration; it fosters a profound sense of pride within communities, transforming sometimes forgotten spaces into vibrant ones, and presents an opportunity to educate through community engagement.”

The Adopt a Monument Scheme is an initiative of The Heritage Council and is managed by Abarta Heritage. Support in surveying and investigation work for several sites will be provided by the Discovery Programme, which is the State’s archaeological research institute.

Details on individual sites:

Cooley cross and graveyard, near Moville, Co Donegal

A significant early church site that overlooks Lough Foyle, on a hill above Moville, this is the site of an important early cross, the ruins of an ancient church and a stone tomb structure known as ‘the Skull House’. The graveyard contains a number of interesting grave markers. Moville Tidy Towns is keen to ensure the long-term preservation of this site and promote it as a local attraction.

Altan Farm Summerhouse, Dunlewey, Co Donegal

A two-storey summer house built in a dramatic mountainous location on the shore of Lough Altan in the mid-nineteenth century and a popular destination for walkers. Cairde na hEaragaile want to conserve these ruins as an important local landmark and promote the important stories of it and its surrounding landscape.

Rathbeagh ringfort, Co Kilkenny

An impressive ringfort overlooking the River Nore near Freshford. This site has mythical associations but little is known about its historical past. The Acorn Project Collaboration with the support of the landowner, want to celebrate and preserve both the natural and cultural heritage of this site, find out more about it and link it into the wider heritage landscape of north Kilkenny.

Bailieborough church and Graveyard, Co Cavan

The ruins of the old Church of Ireland church, set at the highest point of the town, are in a graveyard that is the resting place of many of the town’s illustrious residents including the ancestors of the famous novelist Henry James. Balieborough Heritage Society is keen to preserve the site, tell the stories of those interred there and make it a safe place to explore.

Court Abbey, Lavagh, Co Sligo

Court Abbey is a medieval abbey church and crossing tower set within an intriguing archaeological landscape in Co. Sligo. Although much is covered by ivy, the site has many interesting features including surviving medieval wall paintings. Achrony Mullinabreena Community Enhancement Ltd (A.M.C.E. Ltd) is determined to save this structure from collapse and better understand how to protect and maintain it for future generations.

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