WORK on the first stage of a project to clear overgrown vegetation from the remains of a unique and derelict Ballynahinch church to help
preserve it for future generations has been completed.
Magheradrool church, at the Crabtree Road, was once home to Church of Ireland and Catholic communities in the 18th century, with both congregations also sharing the same graveyard.
Protestants and Catholics worshipped at the former church, built in 1607, before the respective congregations moved to new churches in Ballynahinch town centre.
The Historic Environment Division — which operates under the umbrella of the Department of Communities — has provided funding to remove the vegetation at the old church and allow a detailed assessment of its remains to be carried out. A history of the site, old church and graves will also be compiled.
Work to trim back the overgrown vegetation which has exposed the features of the historic church was completed recently by the Dundrum firm of David McClure Landscapes, under the guidance of the Historic Landscape Division.
The history of the site will now be carried out by Dr William Roulston, Research Director of the Ulster Historical Foundation, with the exercise having to be completed by mid-March.
The funding body requires confirmation there is both community involvement and support for the project and many local people have already indicated their willingness to help.
Early next month, a public meeting will be held in Magheradroll Parish Hall on Thursday, March 9 at 7.30pm. At the event, local historian Horace Reid will give an illustrated talk about the old church, while Dr Roulston will give an overview of the ongoing project at the old church and graveyard.
It is hoped researching the history of the site will provide information which can form part of proposed tourism information display boards for visitors and tourists to view at Magheradrool.
Anyone who would like to get involved in the project is asked to contact Mr John Ard, telephone (028) 4375 0902.