The GAA has thrown a lifeline to a Protestant church facing an uncertain future if it doesn’t raise £60,000 for a new roof.
In a remarkable show of cross-community support, Michael Davitt’s GAA club in Swatragh, Co Derry, has opened its doors to host a special concert to help raise cash to replace the roof on Killelagh Church of Ireland.
Organisers hope a concert by BBC presenter Hugo Duncan and his band will help raise some of the £60,000 needed to carry out the essential work.
Minister of Maghera and Killelagh parish the Rev Isaac Hanna hopes the fundraising event will bring people together.
He said: “It’s a small church but they are very committed and open to working with all sections of the community. A new roof is needed and it needs to be replaced sooner rather than later.
“The concert has already generated a bit of interest and they are at the stage where they have covered their costs.
“The community have been supportive of the wee church and certainly see it as integral to their community and there’s a sense of ownership there and a desire to see the congregation continue to flourish and that’s reflected in the many donations they have received from Swatragh folk, whatever their background.
“Several cross-community events have been held. Someone commented to me that there were people at those events who would never have dreamed of rubbing shoulders 10 years ago. Maybe that’s a wee indication of where we are at the moment.”
As well as throwing open the doors of their facilities to help the church the Davitt’s club has also raised £400 for the roof fund.
Chairman Liam McQuillan says the club is delighted to help with the fundraising effort. He said: “In the last two years we have been getting involved with the Church of Ireland in cross-community events. It’s a lovely wee church and it has been there for a long number of years and the people involved with our club would not like to see it closing because they are unable to afford a new roof.”
The show, which has been organised by Killelagh church youth group, Quench, will take place at Swatragh GAA complex on Friday at 8pm.
The picturesque church is a well-known local landmark that sits neatly on the edge of the mainly nationalist village.
The renovation effort recently received a welcome boost with the promise of £10,000 from the National Church Trust.