MAJOR restoration work is underway to ensure that one of the last remaining ‘Seven Towers of Ballymena’ is conserved for generations to come.
Many will have noticed that the tower of St Patrick’s Church and other parts of the building are currently surrounded by scaffolding.
Behind the metalwork, a scheme is underway to secure the church tower and to replace some of the stone work throughout the building while the bell ringing chamber and the organ loft need to be protected against the elements.
An award from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) of £71,100 is ensuring this historic church building is preserved for posterity and its peal of 12 bells continue to ring out.
The Church is in an elevated position in the town and a look in the visitors’ book reveals that it is a popular attraction for many tourists from all over the world. As well as being a place of interest for sightseers it is, of course, primarily a living place of worship.
Commenting on the HLF award, the Rector, Canon Stuart Lloyd said: “Visitors admire the beauty and atmosphere of St Patrick’s and comment favourably on its upkeep. “Parishioners appreciate the fine building they have inherited but also acknowledge the responsibility placed upon them to maintain it to a high standard for future parishioners and for the wider community”.
Cannon Lloyd expressed his “sincere thanks” to those parishioners and individuals who have worked so hard to get this important piece of work off the ground and who have contributed generously to the restoration appeal.
He said: “I have been very encouraged by the response and I’d also like to extend my thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund for seeing our vision and getting behind it.”
Explaining the importance of the award, Head of HLF Northern Ireland Paul Mullan, said: “Places of worship are at the heart of many local communities and it is hugely important that these historic buildings are preserved for future generations to use and enjoy. We are delighted that funding from our Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme will ensure the bells at St Patrick’s church will continue to ring out for years to come.”