CONSERVATION PLAN & EVENTS
This page highlights the conservation plan and some of the activities that we will undertake to raise funds for our restoration project.
Long Term Plan:
Our goal is raise enough funds to carry out essential work to preserve the Church of the Ascension, Timoleague.
This can only be done with public support.
It has been a long road to get this far. A huge amount of work has been done to create the Conservation Report for the Church.
The Conservation Report outlines what needs to be done and gives us a schedule of works.
Click on the PDF link to view the Conservation Report.
History of the church:
The Church of the Ascension is built on an east-west axis with a simple rectangular body. It stands within a graveyard overlooking Arigideen River and is exposed towards the estuary. This is a First Fruits church with a tower in a Gothic Revival style located to the west. The present church was built the early 1800s in the location of an earlier medieval church. This earlier church is listed under the Record of Monuments (CO 123-073). It is located centrally within a graveyard which is also listed (CO 123-072).
Brady’s Clerical and Parochial Records of Cork, Cloyne and Ross provide the following evidence for the history of Timoleague Church from 1291 through to 1860: 1
1291- Ecca do Tulag
1693 - the Church is well repaired and cared for (translated from original Latin).
1699 - ‘divine service at Timoleague. About 80 persons at Church’
In 1802, August 21st - the Bishop decrees the old parish church of Timoleague (now unsafe, through age and decay) to be pulled down, and the materials to be preserved for a new church ; the Minister, Churchwardens, and parishioners representing that by an annual rate they may provide a sum to build a new church on old site. James Harris signs the memorial, as Curate. No other Minister signs.
1811. May 25 - Timoleague new church, built on the old site, is consecrated under the name of the church of the Ascension.
1815. January 2 - Alexander Johnston memorials for liberty to build at Timoleague, and the Bishop approves, 12th January; and certifies, on 31st Oct., 1816, for an outlay of £1,045, from which deducting £900, loan from the Board of First Fruits, £145 remains as charge on successor.
1832 - One church, capable of accommodating 110 persons, built in 1810, at the cost of £461 10s. 91/4d. British, granted, in way of loan, by the late Board of First Fruits ; of which loan there remained £144 10s. chargeable on the parish in 1832, repayable by annual instalments of £8 9s. 10d. Divine service is celebrated twice on Sundays in summer, and once in winter, and on the principal festivals. The sacrament is administered monthly and on the three great festivals. The benefice is a rectory.
1860 - The church in order. No font. Divine service twice on all Sundays, and once on the usual holidays. Sacrament monthly, average of communicants, 14 ; and on the three great festivals, average 20.
From this we can see that a medieval church was present in this location and in a good state of repair in the late 1600s. By 1800 the church was in a serious state of disrepair and was demolished. It is interesting to note that the original materials were reused in the new church. The Church of the Ascension was consecrated in 1811.
In its description of Timoleague, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837, contains the following description:
“The church is a small neat structure, built in 1810 by aid of a loan of£500 from the same Board” (Board of First Fruits)
The internal elevations of the church are covered in mosaics on almost all of the surfaces. The first mosaics were commissioned in 1894 and work continues up until 1925. The designer is unknown, but the work is thought to have been undertaken by Italian craftsmen, who first laid out the tiles on the lawn of Timoleague House.
The first phase of the mosaics was the decoration of the chancel, commissioned by Robert Augustus Travers in memory of family members. A design of leaves and flowers is enhanced by gold-leaf. A paschal lamb is also incorporated into the design.
The work was continued in the main body of the church by Robert’s son, also Robert. These works were in commemoration of his father and brother who were killed at Gallipoli. The last phase of mosaics was completed in 1925, on the north wall of the nave. They were paid for in part by the Maharajah of Gwalior as a memorial to his friend and physician, Lt. Col Crofts from Concamore, who had saved the life of his son. Stylised designs of leaves and flowers are used throughout the north and south walls. The earlier west wall, however, shows a pictorial representation of the Ascension with the Apostles.
The mosaics are of high architectural, artistic and cultural value. However, they are in danger from the effects of moisture ingress in the built fabric of the church and salt mobilisation. Salt efflorescence is visible on wall surfaces, mortars have deteriorated and bulges in the underlying plaster are evident. The salt efflorescence was most visible along the south wall of the Nave, Chancel and in the south transept