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Funding bid to restore historic walls in Co Armagh cemetery dating back to 1600s

Approval sought to appoint conservation architect for funding bid

Councillors are to be asked to approve the appointment of a conservation architect to help prepare a funding bid and oversee work to restore the historic walls at Seagoe Cemetery.

The recommendation will go to a meeting of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s environment committee tonight (Tuesday).

The ruins that stand in the grounds of Seagoe cemetery have significant historical value.

The first stone church on the site – built before 1609 by settlers – was believed to have been burned down in 1641.

A replacement church was built around 1666 by Valentine Blacker.

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Improvements were made to the church in 1705 and 1755, allowing it to be used for worship until around 1816

In recent times, there have been concerns raised about the condition of the ruins and, as a result, a conservation masonry expert was asked to assess the ruins.

The assessment highlighted a health and safety issue and sections of the ruins have been securely fenced off.

Council officers are hoping to secure funding for assessment and application for grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The conservation masonry expert has given an estimated cost of between £9,000 and £12,000 to make safe the ruins.

And the complete restoration will cost “significantly more”.

In a report to environment committee this evening, councillors have been informed: “The council will need to engage a specialised conservation architect to assist with the specification and completion of the funding application.

“The cost of the conservation architect will depend on the work needed and they will be procured within agreed procedures and delegated authority. It is likely to be up to a maximum of £3,000.

“If the funding application is not successful officers will bring a report back to committee to agree what further action is taken.”

The recommendation will go to committee for consideration but will still require the full backing of council when the statutory meeting takes place later this month.

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