Campaigners have vowed to save a crumbling 12th century church on the edge of the Atlantic at Strandhill, Co Sligo, which has links to St Patrick.
The battle to save the church at Killaspugbrone (church of Bishop Bronus), which is mentioned in the Annals of the Four Masters, moved up a gear at the weekend when a 10ft (3.05m) interpretive sign detailing the importance of the building was unveiled at Strandhill beach.
Hugh McConville, chairman of the Killaspugbrone preservation society said there was a danger that the walls of the historic building would be pushed in by the pressure of sand which has built up outside.
"Because of blowing sand the ground outside the building is now up to 6ft (1.83m) higher than inside," he explained. The preservation society hopes to draw attention to the importance of the church and to ensure that its preservation for future generations, he explained.
Legend has it that St Patrick lost a tooth in this area when he tripped on a flagstone. He presented the tooth to Bishop Bronus who built the original church on the spot in the fifth century. The existing church dates back to 1150.
Because the ruin is off the tourist trail on a peninsula at the back of Sligo Airport many people are unaware of its existence but the new sign details its position on existing walking routes.
The preservation society has spent 10 years campaigning and fundraising to have the building preserved.
Locals were horrified some years ago when part of the boundary wall protecting the adjacent cemetery from the sea collapsed and some human remains were washed away.
Sligo County Council repaired the wall and the graveyard, which operated up until the 1960s, was given a major revamp by young people from the locality who were subsequently presented with Gaisce (President's awards) medals.
Following the establishment of the preservation society, a feasibility study was carried out which established what works were required to prevent further deterioration of the church and cemetery. Recently the society secured
funding under the Heritage Grant Scheme to send a craftsman to study the conservation and repair of masonry ruins at West Dean, in England.
"Killaspugbrone is of hugely historic and cultural importance," said Mr McConville. "Sligo is blessed to have such a noted and valuable historical structure and it should be preserved for future generations".
© 2007 The Irish Times