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Friday 23 March 2018

Bodies exhumed as church sold to become home

The church
in Co
that came
with the
remains of
who had to
The church in Co Donegal that came with the remains of two ministers, who had to be exhumed and re-interred

Greg Harkin

A DISUSED church which a family plans to turn into their dream home came with a 200-year heritage and some unexpected extras ... the graves of two churchmen buried in the churchyard.

The bodies of two Presbyterian ministers have been exhumed from the graveyard of the Co Donegal building to clear the way for the church to be turned into a family home.

The church in Ballyshannon was sold to a Dublin family last week, four years after it was first put on the market.

The asking price for the historic building was €170,000, although the final price hasn't been revealed. It was put on the market after the congregation fell to just 10 families.

The new owners of the church, Louise McMahon, her husband and their five children now plan to move to Donegal from Dublin and turn the church into a family home.

But before the church, which dates to 1834, was placed on the market, the remains of two former ministers had to be exhumed from the churchyard and re-interred in graveyards in Raphoe and Raneany. Reverend Stephen Richmond said it was a very sensitive time for everyone involved.

"The families of the two ministers gave their consent. It was the only option as the church was moving out of church ownership," he said.

Mr Richmond said that although there is huge pressure on churches to entice people back to them, there were no plans to close any more Presbyterian churches in Co Donegal.

Ms McMahon said she bought the church on an whim, but plans to turn it into a family home eventually.


"It was pure impulse. There was no rational reason behind it. I just saw it on the website and it just drew me in.

"It's like finding a shell on a beach. There was a creature living inside it once. We only bought a shell, but we plan on putting something very nice inside it," she said.

The church, which was re-roofed in the past decade and has an orchard on the grounds, was sold after considerable interest from all over the world.

One prospective buyer came from Holland and sat in the church for hours before deciding it was not for her.

Irish Independent

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