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Crusade to keep smallest church St Gobban's open to public

By Rebecca Black

Published 19/07/2016

St Gobban's Church, house and boathouse
St Gobban's Church, house and boathouse
Rev Auld

A campaign has been launched to have a treasure of the north coast kept open to the public.

St Gobban's in Portbradden is believed to be the smallest church in Ireland.

Built in the 1950s, the tiny non-denominational place of worship close to the Giant's Causeway is just 11ft 4in x 6ft 9in (3.45m x 2.06m).

It has hosted dozens of marriage services over the years and boasts breathtaking views of Whitepark Bay to Rathlin Island and the Irish Sea towards Scotland.

The church, a house and boathouse - owned by retired clergyman and teacher the Rev Con Auld, a former mayor of North Down - was put on the market and is believed to have been sold earlier this year.

Since then a 'Keep Out' sign has appeared on a wooden fence, sparking concern among the local community they may lose what is viewed as popular a visitor attraction.

There is also evidence of refurbishment work at the property.

The community have set up a campaign to keep the church open to visitors, and have even approached the National Trust to request that it buys the property to run it as a tourist attraction. Blogger Nevin Taggart is keen to find a way to keep the church accessible.

"The clachan at Portbradden is one of the tourism gems on the north coast of Co Antrim," he said.

"It nestles in a small gorge at the western end of Whitepark Bay and is well sheltered from the prevailing Westerlies.

"It would be a great shame if such a magical part of our local heritage was hidden from public view.

"It's been very much appreciated by local people as well as by visitors from distant shores."

He said previous owner the Rev Auld had a collection box in the church that raised over £1,000 each year for charity, which he believes shows the building does attract tourists.

Since Mr Taggart started his campaign he said he had received responses from scores of people expressing concern at it no longer being open.

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