Belfast Telegraph

Dismay at razing of 'Ireland's smallest' church in Antrim

By Allan Preston

The former owner of "Ireland's smallest church", a popular tourist attraction on the Causeway Coast, has spoken of his dismay at its demolition.

Rev Con Auld, a retired religious studies teacher and former mayor of North Down, built St Gobban's at his summer home in the coastal townland of Portbradden in the 1960s.

At just 11ft 4ins by 6ft 9ins, St Gobban's still managed to host dozens of weddings - including that of a four-star US General who served in Vietnam.

In addition, collections at St Gobban's helped raise over £100,000 for charity, and in 1998 a memorial service for victims of the Omagh bombing was attended by more than 100 people.

Earlier this month the Belfast Telegraph reported it had been demolished by its new owner.

The news was met with disappointment by visitors, but was welcomed by some Portbradden residents who disliked the crowds it attracted.

St Gobban's even featured as "the smallest church in the world" in the 1982 edition of the Guinness Book of Records, and was once a listed building.

"I sympathise with those who (will miss it), but I can do nothing to prevent it. In a couple of years I will be 90 and it is as much as I can do to maintain the house and grounds of my home in Holywood," said Rev Auld.

Councillor Cara McShane said in June that she understood the mixed views, but would miss St Gobban's. "If you see any pictures and paintings of the area, the church was always included. It became a big part of the landscape," she said.

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