St. Mary’s Belfast Restoration

belfast oldest church

Work to be done on the outside of the building includes the complete replacement of the main roof coverings and the repairing and re-pointing of walls and stonework, while new paving is to be installed in the grotto area, which is dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes.

St Mary’s, in Chapel Lane in the city centre, will undergo both external and internal restoration between May and August but will be open as normal for the majority of that time.

It follows on from the first phase of development work on the church, which was completed in 2014.

In a message to parishioners in the weekly bulletin, the parish administrator, Fr James Boyle, wrote: “I wish to confirm….that the proposed external refurbishment and internal redecoration of the Church will commence on Monday 8th May and is due to be completed by Friday 18th August.”

Restoration work will be carried out on both the inside and outside of the church, lasting from May to August. Picture by Hugh Russell
The main walls and ceilings inside the church, where Mass was first celebrated in 1784, will also be cleaned down and repainted.

Fr Boyle wrote: “The external work will not cause any disruption to the daily operation of the Church, however, the internal redecoration will result in the main Church being closed for a period which will not exceed three weeks.

“The relevant dates will be confirmed ASAP at which time we will clarify the alternative arrangements for daily celebration of Masses.”

Molesworth Church in Cookstown gets major refurbishment.


Molesworth Presbyterian Church in Cookstown have commissioned Cleary Contracting in a major restoration and refurbishment project at their popular Cookstown Church.

Work is progressing on a major refurbishment project at Molesworth Presbyterian Church in Cookstown.

The first phase – replacement of the roof of the Molesworth Street building, which dates back to 1835 – is currently under way, and will be followed by work to give the interior of the property a facelift.

Scaffolding covers the front of Molesworth Presbyterian Church.
Scaffolding covers the front of Molesworth Presbyterian Church.

Scaffolding has been erected around the church to facilitate the work, which is being partly paid for with grant funding of £78,500 from the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund.

Moisture ingress has affected the roof, ceiling, windows and walls of the Meeting House over the years, with hidden damage caused to the roof structure in a bomb blast in 1973 thought to have contributed to the problem.

While the roof replacement will ensure the building is weatherproof, the committee decided to go a step further and undertake further work to ensure they leave an inheritance fit for future generations of worshipers.

A major programme of modernisation and refurbishment will take place inside the church while the work on the roof, ceiling and front gable is being finished.

Workers on the roof of Molesworth Presbyterian Church.
Workers on the roof of Molesworth Presbyterian Church.
If all the works go to plan, the church should be ready for re-occupation by September this year.

Rev Tom Greer, the current minister of the congregation, commented: “We took this initiative after much prayerful consideration, in the hope that we will have a building that will help serve the needs of this congregation for many generations to come, as it has served many in the past since its foundation.

“Although the external appearance of our building will not be noticeably different, visitors and regular worshipers will find a more physically comfortable and welcoming interior, which will also comply with modern standards for energy saving, welfare and safety.

“I can truly say on behalf of our committee that we are extremely grateful for the financial aid given to us by the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund.”

Known for many years as Third Cookstown Presbyterian Church, the name was changed to Molesworth Presbyterian Church in 1946.

Over the decades since its formation the church has been a witness to the Christian gospel in Cookstown and district.