Churches of all denominations play a significant role, locally and nationally, in our spiritual, social, educational and community life. They are often the most prominent, ambitious and significant buildings in their locality and their contents are arguably Ireland’s most valuable historic archive. Churches are, by definition, public buildings and are cared for by their congregations but they are also the heritage of their communities.
We will only pass on this precious inheritance, our faith as well as our buildings, to our children and grandchildren if we nurture and maintain them. There is a widespread belief that historic buildings have a fixed lifespan whereas, unless they have intrinsic design or material faults, they can last indefinitely. The proviso is that they must be well maintained and occasional repairs are undertaken as and when required. This is not as difficult as it sounds, it is a concept that has been around for a long time and makes good sound common sense.
The Ulster Historic Churches Trust (UHCT) has organised many seminars on maintenance and in 2006 in conjunction with UTV launched Places of Worship - Three Awards scheme for best maintenance.
There were three categories:
• Places of worship built pre 1800
• Places of worship built 1800-1900
• Places of worship built 1900-75