600-year-old St Mary's Tower repairs complete

Repair work on an historic 600-year-old West Cork tower is now complete — and the ancient edifice and its surrounding Huguenot graveyard will soon be handed back into the care of local residents.

The landmark St Mary’s Tower has been restored by specialist contractors hired by Cork County Council at a cost of about €76,000 following a determined 10-year campaign by local people who have been fighting to have the work carried out after the building was damaged by lightning in 2000. It partially collapsed seven years later.

“It looks extremely well. It has been beautifully restored inside and out,” said best-selling author and local resident Alice Taylor, a member of the Friends of Innishannon Committee, which was set up several years ago to lobby for the restoration of the tower.

The Tower and Huguenot Graveyard will be formally handed back into the care of the Tidy Towns Committee on Nov 21, although it was anticipated, she added, that further works would be carried out at a later date: “The tower is now restored and safe, so visitors can come into the Huguenot Graveyard which has been closed off for about 10 years because of fears of falling masonry.”

Both would be incorporated into the guided history walk of the village in time for summer 2014, she added.

“Prior to the collapse, this tower was a unique feature of the village streetscape, while the graveyard was a beautiful wildflower garden.

“It all formed part of the tourist trail of Innishannon — it is very much part of the village, both in terms of culture and commerce.”

The tower dates from the decree by Pope Sixtus in 1475 that permission be granted to Cormac McCarthy, a local landowner, to build a church and tower dedicated to St Mary.

Many of the village’s Huguenot are now buried in the graveyard.


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