Major conservation work at historic Fahan Church unveiled

St Mura's Cross
St Mura's Cross

Conservation work at an 17th Century Church in Fahan old graveyard has been unveiled.

The work began in June, and the area around St Mura’s Cross, the 1200 year -old cross which is the only one in Ireland of its age, with a Greek inscription - was protected under a wooden structure.

The conservation work to the gable wall of the Old Church, which was built in the 1620s, was required because the state of the unstable structure posed a real threat to the cross. It is believed the church was built from stones scavenged from the ruins of the monastery that had existed on the site since the 6th century.

Funding for the project came from the Heritage Council and The Department of Arts Culture, the Gaeltacht and many donations from all over the world.

Unveiling the E40,000 conservation work the Chairperson of Fahan Heritage Group, Colm Toland, thanked all those involved with the project, including Caroline Dickson Architects, John Cronin and Associates, North West Designs, Seamus Friel and Sons, Foyle Engineering and The National Monuments Service.

He also thanked all of those who donated and the committee ‘without whose help and enthusiasm this project would not have taken place’.

“The committee would like to thank all of those who worked on the project. From the traditional stonemasons to the more high-tech work. The result has restored and stabilised the ruin and is a joy to behold.”

He said that the stabilised gable wall marks the end of phase one of the project. “We will now direct our efforts at preserving Saint Mura’s Cross - as an initial part of this project we have engaged Jason Boulton, a consultant on the preservation of stone monuments who has done much work in Ireland Europe and Britain.

“He visited the site recently and is very optimistic that we will be able to restore the cross to much of its former glory.

“There is of course erosion on the 1200 year old cross, but a big part of the problem has been the growth of an amalgam of moss and algae which has hidden much of the detail.

“We are now embarking on a series of experiments to see how best we can remove this growth with minimum effect on the cross. When the cross has been restored we will have to look at the various options open to us to preserve it. There is little doubt that to do this successfully will be very expensive.

“With our own efforts and the help of the various agencies and funds available we hope to see the cross restored to its former glory ‘in situ’. It will be a fitting legacy for future generations.”