Restoration of St. James' Church
Efforts are under way in Dingle to save a 210-year-old church which has been badly damaged by woodworm and wet rot.
Up to €500,000 is needed to carry out essential repairs and renovation work at the Church of St James’s in the Co Kerry town.
The church is internationally known as the intimate venue for the Other Voices music series. Amy Winehouse, David Gray, The National and Glen Hansard are among the many artists who have performed in the church in recent years.
Engineers have surveyed the building and essential structural repairs will cost €300,000.
A further €200,000 is needed to repair and install new furniture and provide modern facilities.
It is hoped funds can be raised by securing grant assistance and through a major fundraising campaign.
Reverend Phyllis Jones said the problems in the church need to be addressed urgently as the building has seen significant deterioration in recent years.
"It's a tremendous amount of money and we have a very small Church of Ireland community here," Reverend Jones said.
"On average, only about twelve or fifteen people attend service here on a Sunday. But this is also a very important space for the wider community, hosting many music and arts events throughout the year.
"We have a duty to preserve this beautiful church for the entire community. It's an iconic church, with a rich history and it would be a terrible shame not to carry the church in to the next century" added Reverend Jones.
Reverend Jones is launching the campaign by walking 116km on the Camino to Santiago de Compostella.
The Church of St James has strong links with the pilgrimage. The present church was built in 1808 on the site of an earlier medieval church said to have been built by Spanish merchants who lived in the town.
Dingle had a very strong Spanish influence in the medieval period according to historian Pat Neligan.
"There was a lot of trade between Dingle and Spain in that period," he said.
"Spanish merchants came to live in the town. They paid for the original church here which is why it was dedicated to St James of Santiago de Compostella.
"Dingle was also a major point of embarkment for medieval pilgrims who sailed to northern Spain to walk the Camino to Santiago de Compostella," added Mr Neligan.