Posted online: Aug 9th, 2010
A County Derry GAA club has crossed the community divide to help a local church raise cash for a new roof.
In a remarkable show of cross community solidarity, Michael Davitt’s GAA club in Swatragh has thrown open its doors for a special concert to help raise cash to replace the roof on Killelagh Church of Ireland.
Organisers hope a concert by the Wee Man from Strabane, Hugo Duncan and his band, will help raise some of the £60,000 needed to carry out the essential maintenance work.
The ornate church is a well known landmark which sits on the edge of the mainly nationalist village.
Opened in 1853 the congregation has dwindled to just 14 families in recent years.
The renovation effort recently received a welcome boost with the promise of £10,000 from the National Church Trust.
Now the loyal congregation has turned to its neighbours for help in collecting more of the cash needed to complete the refurbishment work.
Minister of Maghera and Killelagh parish, Reverend Iasac Hanna, hopes the fundraising event will bring people out in support.
He said: Killelagh only has 14 families and they could consist of one person or 10 people. It’s a small church but they are very committed and open to working with all sections of the community. A new roof is needed and it needs to be replaced sooner rather than later. The concert has already generated a bit of interest and they are the stage where they have covered their costs. But it is a fundraising event and they want to make a bit on money out of it.
“The community have been supportive of the wee church and certainly see it as integral to their community and there’s a sense of ownership there and a desire to see the congregation continue to flourish and that’s reflected in the many donations they have received from Swatragh folk, whatever their background. Several cross community events have been held. Someone commented to me that there were people at those events who would never have dreamed of rubbing shoulders ten years ago. Maybe that’s a wee indication of where we are at the moment. It’s a community fundraising event and I would encourage everybody to come along.”
As well as throwing open the doors of their facilities to help the church the Davitt’s club has also raised £400 for the roof fund.
Swatragh chairman Liam McQuillan says the club is delighted to help with the fundraising effort.
He said: “In the last two years we have been getting involved with the Church of Ireland in cross community events. It’s a lovely wee church and it has been there for a long number of years and the people involved with our club would not like to see it closing because they are unable to afford a new roof.
“As a club we have the facilities there and we do not see why they should not be used by everybody. We will give them whatever help we can.That church has been in Swatragh for years and was built around the same time as the Catholic church in Swatragh and we would not like to see it getting into difficulty and we will do everything in our power to stop that happening.”