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Funding for Donegal’s Archaeological Monuments

Three archaeological monuments in County Donegal are set to benefit from funding under the new Community Monuments Fund.  As part of the July Jobs Stimulus Package, the National Monuments Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage made €1.4 million available for 71 projects countrywide for the conservation of archaeological monuments.  The three archaeological monuments that will benefit under the scheme in County Donegal are Rathmullan Abbey (€42,000), Killydonnell Friary (€15,000) and St. Mura’s Cross, Fahan (€2,360).

“Under the new Community Monuments Fund, applications were sought from local authorities, private owners, custodians and community groups for the care, maintenance, protection and promotion of local archaeological monuments and historic sites” explained Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer.  “The aims of the fund are to conserve, maintain, protect and present local monuments and historic sites.  The scheme is designed to enable conservation works to be carried out, to improve access to and presentation of archaeological monuments and to build resilience in our monuments to reduce the impacts of weathering and our changing climate.  The applications were managed by the Conservation Office and the County Donegal Heritage Office of Donegal County Council.” 

Donegal County Council, Rathmullan Community Development Group & Rathmullan & District Local History Society sought funding for urgent conservation repair works to Rathmullan Abbey (DG037-007003-), a Recorded Monument protected under the National Monuments Acts.  The works will be overseen by conservation architects Dedalus Architecture and will be in accordance with the existing conservation plan for the structure.  The proposed works will include the removal of ivy and consolidation of wall tops, selective re-pointing, consolidation and grout repairs to areas of loose stonework and cracks and specialist repairs to the tower.  The works will build on on-going cooperation between the local community and Donegal County Council.  

Killydonnell Friary 

Donegal County Council sought funding for the production of a conservation report and recommendations in relation to the conservation of the sixteenth-century Killydonnell Friary (DG DG046-017-), a Recorded Monument protected under the National Monuments Acts.  The report to be prepared by a conservation architect/archaeologist will identify the conservation works needed for the stabilisation of the ruins which will allow improved safe access to this archaeological monument and will enhance its presentation.  This work will build upon the condition report prepared by John Cronin & Associates and commissioned by Donegal County Council as part of the implementation of the County Donegal Heritage Plan in 2018.

St. Mura’s Cross

Fahan Community Council in partnership with Donegal County Council sought funding for a ‘Baseline Survey and Stability Monitoring Programme Plan’ to study a pronounced eastward tilt in St. Mura’s Cross (DG038-013002-) in recent years.  The work will enable the movement of this Recorded Monument to be carefully monitored and will inform urgent conservation planning and monitoring measures to be carried out at the site.  The plan will address the monument’s resilience to weathering and to increased visitor numbers.  The work will be carried out under the conservation supervision of archaeologists John Cronin & Associates.  All three projects are taking place in historic graveyards that are in the guardianship of Donegal County Council and maintained by the Roads & Transportation Directorate and works must be completed by mid-November 2020.

“The funding will progress heritage projects across the country, ensuring that heritage is protected as a community asset and made more accessible” said Malcolm Noonan, TD, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform.  “This measure will also allow steps to be taken under the Climate Change Action Plan in relation to our archaeological heritage and will create employment for many small businesses, skilled conservation specialists and tradespeople involved in heritage-related construction activity.  I want to thank the local authorities for their enthusiastic response to the new Fund and for drawing up a wide range of suitable projects in record time.  I would also like to acknowledge the dedication of private owners in their custodianship of a significant share of our archaeological heritage. This heritage is so important, especially in these challenging times, in providing recreation, comfort and a sense of well-being to communities across the land and I am delighted to be able to provide this support through the Community Monuments Fund.” 

If you are involved in the conservation of an archaeological monument in your area or would like to make a future application to the Community Monuments Fund, advice is available from the County Donegal Heritage Office, Donegal County Council on (074) 917 2576 or by e-mail at heritage@donegalcoco.ie

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