Landmark Ballymena church to close

Published Friday, 19 July 2013
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A Catholic Church in Ballymena, which was the scene of weekly loyalist protests in the 1990s, is set to close.

Our Lady's Church on the Larne Road in the Harryville area has also been subject to sectarian paint and arson attacks over the years.

Protests outside the church began in 1996 and ended after the Good Friday Agreement.

The picket was originally mounted by loyalists in response to the RUC's blocking of an Orange Order parade through the overwhelmingly Catholic village of Dunloy.

The building, which has a unique hexagonal design, has developed a problem with leaking water causing damage which would cost an estimated £300,000 to fix.

Damp, damage to the roof and electrical failure mean the 45-year-old church will be demolished.

"The Church of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, was solemnly blessed and dedicated on 8 September 1968 by the Bishop of Down and Connor Dr William Philbin having been built on a site given to the parish of Kirkinriola," a parish statement said.

"For over 40 years together with our other church buildings it has served the spiritual needs of the people of the parish. Its distinctive architecture made it a special feature in Ballymena and its beautiful interior made it a place particularly suited to prayer and worship."

It continued: "For some time now the building has been unsafe and has had to be taken out of use in February 2012.

"The costs, coupled with an assessment of the current needs of the parish community, has prompted the parish authorities to close the church on a permanent basis.

"This decision has naturally been taken with regret on account of the fond memories and strong attachments that we all naturally have to a church building."

The statement said the congregation will be relocated to St Patricks, Crebilly in the town.

© UTV News
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37 Comments
Sandra. in New York wrote (272 days ago):
Oh Bob in U K so you want to compare the harassment of the Harryville church to the site of the proposed Mosque at ground zero Well O K lets talk about it. There were objections about the locations of that Mosque at ground Zero But there were alternate sites offered after these objections and the Islamic population decided on an alternate site. Very different from the Orange Order who were given alternate routes but instead decide, demand and riot because they were offered an alternate route. Just shows how bigoted and hateful the Orange culture is in comparison to other religons like the Muslim faith
bob in UK wrote (272 days ago):
Sandra "Well let us all look at it in this way. Lets suppose you lived in a house in some Imagined place. Unfortunately every time you enter or leave that home you are harassed, cursed , spat at ETC. Then your home develops some needed ,expensive repairs. Would you pump money into your home and possibly after the repairs, you still must deal with harassment Or would you cut your losses and move?" - like the mosque that alot of NYC citizens are trying to block being built at ground zero you mean ?
Atheist in Londonderry wrote (272 days ago):
Perhaps all religion should be done away with. Saying that it is all the biggest load of rubbish/the biggest story ever told. A scheme used to control the masses. It is pathetic that most of the human race has not yet cottoned on to this. Religion has been the ruin of our nations and is ruining most countries around the world. Time to get a grip on reality and live in peace as human beings..
John in Creggan wrote (273 days ago):
@John in Belfast. What has this got to do with a united Ireland? This story says more about Loyalism's warped sense of Britishness. You think Loyalist would be "treated like slaves" in a united Ireland. Everybody knows how Loyalism treated Nationalists in sick British Northern Ireland. I've lived & worked in Britain & I can tell you Ulster Loyalism is unrecognisable to the British. 4 million Catholics live in Britain, how many chapels where picketed? Harryville closed due to falling a congregation & raising repair costs but it's famous like Holy Cross school for Loyalist bigotry.
Sandra in New York wrote (273 days ago):
Well let us all look at it in this way. Lets suppose you lived in a house in some Imagined place. Unfortunately every time you enter or leave that home you are harassed, cursed , spat at ETC. Then your home develops some needed ,expensive repairs. Would you pump money into your home and possibly after the repairs, you still must deal with harassment Or would you cut your losses and move?
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