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An Taoiseach Visits Crosshaven: ‘Templebreedy Save Our Steeple’ Project

An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin T.D visited Crosshaven, on Saturday, 18th September 2021 where he attended the ‘Templebreedy Save Our Steeple’ project at St. Matthews Church (formerly Teampall Bríde or Templebreedy) just outside the village.


Minister Michael McGrath, County Mayor Gillian Coughlan and Virgina Teehan, Chief Executive of the Heritage council also attended. On the same day he also visited Crosshaven Tennis Club, Crosshaven House and spent time in Crosshaven village.


The ‘Templebreedy Save Our Steeple’ project was set up by Volunteers after Ophelia in 2017 to consolidate what remained of the ruins of St. Matthews Church built in 1778, on a site that previously had been a monastery. Volunteers fundraised to acquire a Heritage Report for approval from Cork County Council. Partial Government funding was secured from the department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in July 2020.


In June 2021, the project team received a further €15,000 in Government Grant funding for ‘Archaeological & Architectural Assessment” to inform a practical management plan for the graveyard. After these reports are completed they are looking to start works early next year.


Cllr Audrey Buckley (FF) who has been involved with the project from the start says, “to complete works on St. Matthews Church we are currently working on a report to submit to the Dept. of Heritage. Our hope is to complete all consolidation works on St. Matthews church and put in proper measures for approved ground cover for the church, our hope is more weddings and services could take place at this idyllic location.”



Speaking on his visit, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin praised and thanked the volunteers for their work. “This is the epitome of community spirt, individuals and groups joining together to preserve and protect their local heritage for current and future generations. The dedication of volunteers and the innovative approach has reclaimed the area for the community and has unearthed the deep history of the church and the burial site. It shows what can be achieved in such a short time when communities are involved at the heart of a project.”


The site, which includes a graveyard, is one of the most scenic locations in Ireland. Overlooking the entrance to Cork harbour it is situated on a looped walk focussed on Crosshaven. It is one of the key graveyards for the military heritage of Cork Harbour with burials here from British Military and naval personnel, many connected to the nearby Camden Fort Meagher. Fort Meagher was revived as a heritage tourism location thanks largely to a combined effort by Cork County Council and a group of volunteers.


This same group of volunteers have expanded their efforts to this graveyard and in one year have conducted a careful clean-up, environmentally friendly which included ‘GoatScaping’ & ‘SheepScaping’, attracting national and global media attention. Measuring approx. 1 hectare in size the graveyard is one of the largest of its kind in Ireland.


As a consequence, grass cutting is a major problem and until recently grass tussocks and brambles have dominated central vegetation growth. Recent use of goat and sheep herds has controlled the worst of the dominating vegetation but the scale of the graveyard makes sustainable conservation, care & maintenance a high priority, albeit daunting.


Cllr Buckley says, “Back in July after a ‘Sheep Move’ we uncovered the grave of Maria Kate, who was buried in 1872, aged just 2 ½ years old. We have managed to contact Maria Kate’s grandnephew. He had been trying to find info on her and the family and had planned to come over from the UK last year but had to cancel due to Covid.


He is thrilled and plans to visit as soon as he can. He is so thankful to all Involved Maria Kate Russel, Aged 2yrs, 5 months and 15 days, died on 7th October 1872. Her father, Crp. George Russel, Royal Engineers, Camden Fort Meagher, was present when she passed.


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