Kids’ pocket money helps repair Bellaghy church

Ballyscullion Parish Church
Ballyscullion Parish Church

The small Church of Ireland congregration of St Tidas, or Ballyscullion Parish, as it is familiarly known in the Bellaghy area, is expected to open later this month after a major repair project.

Last October the Mail revealed that parishioners were embarking on a series of fund-raising events to cover the estimated £250,000 restoration bill.

Children Ballyscullion Church

Children Ballyscullion Church

Although the congregation received a Heritage Grant of £100,000, they had to set about making up the shortfall.

One of these involved a marathon coin collecting exercise which included the children saving their pocket money.

Then they created quite a flourish by putting all their coins in rows on the ground in the adjoining Presbyterian Church car park to depict a full size outline of Ballyscullion Church tower and spire.

This was no mean feat, considering that the spire tops out at 120 feet above ground level.

The parishioners were also amazed to see the dimensions of their building’s focal point represented in such a novel way. The parish also held a successful treasure hunt followed by barbecue on the same evening.

The quarter million pound church refurbishment which has been on going over six months is now rapidly drawing to a close.

The roof has been reslated, the floor has been replaced, the electrics and audio have been updated, the pews have been adjusted and revarnished, the spire has been partially rebuilt, most of the beautiful windows have been rebuilt and the heating and lighting have had an overhaul.

It is expected that the church will be open for public worship by mid-July.

Arrangements are also being made to hold one or two open days where conducted tours will be held to allow those people who have expressed an interest to view the completed project.

St Tidas was constructed in 1792-94 on the site of an earlier plantation period church dating from 1621.

However, over the years the local landmark began to show signs of its age with damp and woodworm taking a toll on the structure.

It prompted the congregration - consisting of only 65 families - to seek help and get the major restoration programme underway.