Loughinisland Churches

Map Reference: J423454 (3423, 3454)

The old graveyard at Loughinisland occupies a natural island in Loughinisland Lake and now reachable by a modern causeway from the west. The three churches among the graves are of different dates. The Middle Church may date from the 13th century although there is evidence that the walls were refaced at a later date. It was a rectangular gabled structure measuring about 11m by 6m internally. The gables have now fallen and the walls have been reduced to an average 3m high. The south doorway has been largely destroyed with only the base of the jambs remaining. There is a good base batter on the south wall.

The North Church probably dates from the 15th or 16th century and it continued in use until 1720 for both Protestant and Catholic worship when the roofing materials were removed for re-use in the Church of Ireland building at Seaforde. It measures about 19m by 8m internally with west and south doorways. There is a small lancet window over the west doorway and above this is a small weathered mask. The stone on the inside of the south wall with the long Latin inscription in raised lettering is part of a gravestone. It dates from 1617 although the date is no longer traceable. There is a similar stone to the left of the south doorway but the inscription is no longer legible.

The South Church is also called MacCartan's Chapel and was built in 1636. It is a rectangular gabled structure about 7m by 4.5m internally. It has a two-light east window and small north and south windows. The west doorway has a semicircular head, rising from moulded imposts, with a square architrave framing the arch. There are panelled spandrels bearing the initials P.M.C. and the date 1636. On the gable above the doorway is a carved mask.

The gravestones are mainly 19th and 20th century but there are some late 18th century examples. There are many simple gravestones some of which are plain. Others are inscribed with initials and a simple cross, but no date. There are also two large burial vaults, one of which is dated 1835 and 1855.

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