AN ARCHAEOLOGIST has been appointed to carry out a conservation survey at the Raymochy Abbey and graveyard site. Raymochy Historical Society, which was formed in 2007 by a group of people who had an interest in the history of the area, is the driving force behind the project. The site is in the guardianship of Donegal County Council and is a protected structure.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Hugh Devlin of Raymochy Historical Society, said the conservation survey, being undertaken by Buncrana based firm John Cronin and Associates, will help underpin applications for funding for projects to help conserve and repair the site.
“Three or four years ago we had a very wet winter. There was a storm down there and part of the graveyard wall collapsed outwards on the east boundary wall on to the public road,” said Mr Devlin.
The damage prompted the group to look into how they would go about carrying out repairs and a meeting was held with Donegal County Council’s Roads Division and Heritage Officer.
They discovered that the Council did not have any specific funding available to carry the work and the Historical Society were told they were well placed as an active community group to make an application for funding for the repairs.
Because the site is a protected structure it is a specialised job and must be overseen by an archaeologist.
Archaeologist Kate Robb will carry out the survey which is being funded by the Heritage Council.
Mr Devlin said: “The first thing we had to do was to get a conservation survey for the old church and the graveyard and look at various aspects of it. The boundary wall was certainly one aspect which had slipped in two sections.”
Overgrown ivy and an uneven ground service are among the other issues facing the group.
The church was originally built in 1500 and was modified after the plantation of Ulster in 1609. It was in use from 1622 to 1792 when a new church was built in the village of Manorcunningham. When the church moved the old church fell into disuse.
The graveyard remained as a multi denominational burial ground in 19th and 20th centuries. It is still occasionally used as a burial ground and people go in and out on a daily basis.
The group’s focus is now to preserve the church and graveyard going forward and set out a plan to deal with the shrubbery, trees and ivy and the rough surface on the ground to enable people to access the church.
The Historical Society is already involved in clean-ups at the graveyard, they help keep the site maintained and provide information to Diaspora returning to the area in search of their ancestors.
“We are hoping to have the draft conservation report by the end of September and have the final report in October,” said Mr Devlin.
“We have made three different funding applications to have the conservation report done. We have been working on it for the last 12 months.”
Mr Devlin said it is great news that the Heritage Council has agreed to fund the report because the burden had been on the Council.
He said this funding has allowed them to get their ‘foot on the ladder’ and is hopeful more funding streams will become available.