Belfast Telegraph

Tiny Rathlin Island church is rededicated following renovations

By Staff Reporter

Northern Ireland's most northerly church reopened its doors with a celebratory Mass yesterday.

Bathed in glorious sunshine, the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Rathlin Island will serve the picturesque island's tiny community of around 150 people after recent renovations.

Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor reminded those gathered of how the island's parishioners met for worship in penal times in various parts of the island - including in the shade of an overhanging rock at Ballynagarad, at a large stone in Kilpatrick, and in a hollow called Lag an Sassanach.

Later, an old deserted mill on the site of where the Church of the Immaculate Conception now stands was converted into a place of worship on or around 1816.

However, the building was believed to have been a poor state of repair, and was eventually replaced in 1865 by the 48ft long by 18ft wide building that stands on the same site now.

The church lies a short walk from the harbour at the top of Church Brae.

The local website advises visitors to turn right after St Thomas' church - the local Church of Ireland - to find it.

In his homily, Bishop Treanor told those gathered for worship in the church yesterday that Rathlin, "like ourselves, is part of a world and of a society which, for all the achievements of modernity, is now searching for, indeed sometimes screaming for, ultimate meaning, purpose and hope".

He added: "Living in the world wide web we cannot escape the questions and challenges of human existence in our times."

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