Forkhill COI Parish Church

With the huge fall in Church attendance not just in Ireland but the world over, there remains the question of what to do with disused Churches and Church property.

I was astonished to find dozens of pews in St Vitus’s Cathedral in Prague burnt almost to destruction where cigarette ends had been placed and allowed to burn out! Then I learned the Cathedral had for a long time been used as a military barracks. Hardly to be commended for a consecrated building!

Many others in the same city now form concert hall venues for classical concerts for tourists! Much more appropriate and exalting – if hardly more spiritual. But that depends on your perspective. I believe that composers such as Mozart and Beethoven – or at least their compositional works – were as close as man can get to God. I do hope this doesn’t sound blasphemous! I cannot hear the Shepherd’s Song from Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony without imagining The Second Coming.

Anyway, it was the new use of abandoned churches of which I wished to write!  Consider in particular, three such in the Slieve Gullion Ward. Killeavy Parish Church at Meigh is a sad, derelict building that has been let go to wrack and ruin and is little more than an invite to vandals. The COI at Jonesborough is now in private hands and last time I passed by, was being used for commercial transactions (‘My house was a house of prayer …’). Finally the Forkhill Parish church (on the road to Mullaghbawn) is now a private residence! You may access the adjoining cemetery – of which I am about to write – but respect the privacy of the young family who reside next door in ‘The Church’. I’m not sure how I’d feel personally to live here, but I admire and respect the enterprise of this family.

This Church was erected by Richard Jackson on the estate purchased by him in 1742. He was the founder of the Forkhill Charities in 1767. The Church was consecrated on 7 September 1783 by the Bishop of Dromore on behalf of the Primate.

By an Act of the Lord Lieutenant in Council on 20 December 1771 12 townlands were severed from Loughgilly and became the parish of Forkhill. On 7 May 1773 11 townlands of Killeavy were annexed to Forkhill and these 23 townlands in total had (at the Disestablishment) the townland of Dungooley added to cover an area of about 20 square miles.

A Glebe House was built in 1776 at a cost of

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