Monday, July 22, 2024

Almost €30k provided for St Mary’s Church, Delvin

€29,397 has been provided for conservation works at St Mary’s church in Delvin under the Community Monuments Fund. Consultants for the works are currently being assigned and it is reported that conservation plans may be drawn up in the coming months. Delvin Amenity Development Group successfully acquired the funding with the help of Westmeath County Council. Cllr David Jones was a key figure in getting the funding for St Mary’s.

“It started three years ago when I set up Delvin Amenity Development Group. There’s a few members of the community on board. There’s lots of people excited to see what the future holds for St Mary’s,” Cllr Jones told Topic.

“It’s exciting. A lot of questions still have to be asked. Where do we go from here?”

The newly-elected councillor said the renovation of St Mary’s has been a talking point in Delvin “over the past few years”. Two unsuccessful grant applications had been submitted before the third submission was granted. The €30k will be used to draw up a conservation report to lay the foundations for the project. Cllr Jones said he worked closely with Westmeath County Council heritage officer Melanie McQuaid during the process.

“Melanie has been doing a huge amount of work behind the scenes as well to make sure all the consultants are put in place and a team is put in place,” he said.

“She’s been brilliant. She’s guided us down the right path.”

Ms McQuaid visited the site last year along with a conservationist and Cllr Jones. This laid the groundwork for the grant application and gave Delvin Amenity Development Group a chance to explain why they wanted to conserve St Mary’s.

“We just explained the importance of such a site to Delvin and how we want to protect it for future generations. Our fear was it would further deteriorate.”

The site and St Mary’s itself is owned by Westmeath County Council and so they will control the finances granted for the conservation project. Cllr Jones said this was “a relief” and is looking forward to the project getting underway. He said there are a “huge amount of tourists” in Delvin every day and said they should make the town “more accessible to tourists”.

“Accessibility is a huge problem and it’s very unsafe walking around the graveyard, working around the church at St Mary’s. Our whole aim is to make it more accessible and pedestrian-friendly.”

The local Tidy Towns committee, Delvin Historical Society and Delvin Amenity Development Group will work together to prepare the site for the report. Cllr Jones said this spirit of collaboration is what helped secure the funding.

“This was a community effort, it was nothing to do with politics. It was to do with the amenity Development group who have plenty of plans in place. Yes, we need local politicians but without the likes of these groups, these projects wouldn’t be possible.”

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