Country church building in Cushendun to become village hub

Cushendun Old Church
Cushendun Old Church

It has taken almost a decade of campaigning, and a high-profile appearance on national television, to save a much-loved church building in Co Antrim.

The Cushendun Old Church is now deconsecrated and in disrepair but local residents have never given up hope that it can be restored as a community hub.

Cushendun Church

Cushendun Church

Their ambitious attempts to secure the necessary funding including entering the project as a contender in the BBC’s Restoration Village series, hosted by Griff Rhys Jones.

That was back in 2006 and the plan almost succeeded - the quaint, red sandstone church named the Northern Ireland regional winner and eventually reaching the UK final of the competition on which the popular BB2 programme was based.

Described as “one of the landmark buildings in the area,” it was built in 1842 for the new Church of Ireland parish of Cushendun.

By the end of the last century the dwindling congregation had become too small to be viable and, in 2003, the church was deconsecrated.

Despite the setback of the Restoration Village disappointment, the campaigners battled on and applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a grant.

It was announced on Wednesday that the HLF has now earmarked more than £260,000 for the project.

Monica Morgan, chair of the Cushendun Building Preservation Trust, said: “We were heartbroken when we failed to win the money to repair the church and turn it into a community centre, but we were determined to keep on trying.

“Restoring the church will make a great difference to the village and create a great facility for all to share.”

Paul Mullan, head of HLF Northern Ireland, said: “I really admire the campaigners for their perseverance and hard work.

“This will become a wonderful space for residents and tourists alike. Thank you to all the lottery players who have made this possible.”