Thursday, 13th May is Ascension Day, and there will be an open day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the unique Church of the Ascension, Timoleague, County Cork (with all covid-19 precautions and oversight in place). Unique? Yes, it must be the only church building in Ireland where the interior walls are not only covered in colourful mosaics, but where also the story of those mosaics has local connections, as well as links to India.
It may look like a non-assuming country church on the outside, but inside it holds the secret of being completely overlaid with intricately designed mosaics, from floor to ceiling – a West-Cork marvel to behold.
There are many stories of historical interest linked to the mosaics. Perhaps the most unusual concerns the mosaic memorial on the south wall. This was mainly paid for by the His Highness, the Maharajah of Gwalior, India, in gratitude for a locally born doctor, Aylmer Martin Crofts. Originally from the townland of Concamore, Crofts had become the Maharajah’s personal physician for twenty years, and on one occasion, he helped to save his son’s life.
Architect Jeremy Williams who wrote A Companion Guide to Architecture in Ireland 1937-1921 said that this church
… transcended the sectarian divide between Irish Catholic and Protestant, the Indian Muslim and Hindu, personal friendship breaking up hereditary distinctions of caste and colour.
Recently, the rector, the Reverend Kingsley Sutton, has produced a video to tell the story of this Church on the Argideen Estuary, County Cork. It is well worth watching.
To view the video
‘Touching Heritage at the Argideen Estuary’
Sadly the mosaics have become threatened with deterioration, mainly because of water ingress, but a Conservation project is working as quickly as possible to save them. To celebrate what has been achieved so far with the Church of the Ascension Conservation Project, the church will be open to the public on Ascension Day, 13th May, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Adhering to COVID19 restrictions, this is an invitation for people to come and see inside and experience first-hand this remarkable building.
A considerable sum of money has yet to be raised to preserve the building. Contributions, no matter how big or small, are all greatly appreciated.
Donations can be made through the GoFundMe page at www.timoleaguemosaics.ie