Historic church takes 21st century approach to the past


A FERMANAGH church, that has roots as far back as the 14th century, is taking its history into the 21st century while, at the same time, bringing communities together to commemorate a tragic past.
This weekend Ardess Parish Church will be taking part in the European Heritage Open Days weekend, which will see scores of properties and attractions opened for free across Fermanagh. Not content with simply opening the church to allow people to have a nosy around, though, the parishioners have lined up a packed programme, including a poignant commemoration of the Great Famine and the launch of a new phone app.
Dorothy Pendry from Ardess Community Association said, over the summer, the church had trained up ten local volunteers to become certified tour guides, who would be on hand all weekend to show people around the church, it’s graveyard and it’s famine pit, while the memorial service would take place on Sunday evening at 7pm.
“We’re having an active commemoration at the famine grave, then we’re coming into the church and there’ll be reflections on the famine through readings and music,” said Ms Pendry. “Fermanagh Choral Society are coming to sing between the readings, then there’s a supper afterwards in the parish hall.”
Neville Armstrong, who developed the app that provides information on the history of Ardess and will allow people to take self-guided tours, said they group wanted to bring communities our together through their schedule of events.
“It’s a programme very based on heritage and culture, and not about division or anything like that,” he said, adding the famine was part of our shared history. “It’s about a time when all communities suffered, and it’s about a church reflecting on what heritage is.” Mr Armstrong said as well as the app, which will be launched this Saturday, September 9, at 2pm, said they had also developed a piece of poetry by Jim Ledworth into a song, called the Ballad of Ardess, that will also have its debut at the weekend.

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This weekend, Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 September, some 24 properties are being opened up and a number...


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