The Cootehill Town Team is to get €20,000, the largest allocation locally, to go towards ongoing work to conserve the Coote family vault in the Church Street Graveyard.

Big plans for local heritage projects

Three Cavan groups are to receive funding as part of major plans to protect and promote the county’s heritage sites.

Funding of €55,596 was announced by the Heritage Council last week for a number of organisations across the country, including some in this region.

The Cootehill Town Team is to get €20,000, the largest allocation locally, to go towards ongoing work to conserve the Coote family vault in the Church Street Graveyard.

Work took place last year to clear scrub and bushes from the graveyard, which previously housed the town’s Church of Ireland building.

This funding will go towards work to protect and preserve the Coote family mausoleum in the graveyard.

“It’s a rubble wall,” says Town Team member Patrick Cassidy. “Ivy has done a lot of damage so we’ll probably have to deconstruct and reconstruct it. There are capstones that have to be replaced. They’re lying around so they’ll have to be replaced.”

While nature and the passage of time have played their parts on the mausoleum, locals have too.

“There would have been lead on the vault but apparently it was taken off during the Civil War,” Patrick tells the Celt. “There were some local IRA people who went in and just helped themselves. They turned it into bullets apparently for the war effort.”

The restoration of the vault is part of ongoing work at the graveyard to improve access and turn it into a tourism site in the town. Its history cannot go unnoticed with many prominent members of the Coote family buried there, including the town’s founder.

“Thomas Coote, the founder of the town basically, he’s buried there and some of the other family members as well. Cootehill in the 18th century was the main town for linen. The linen market was one of the largest in Ulster. It was Thomas Coote who brought linen to the town and to Cavan. He’s an important figure from that period.”

The graveyard’s location atop a hill and its former role as a churchyard point to its role in history going back much further than the town of Cootehill itself.

“There’s a Minister who was involved in the 1798 rebellion [buried there]. He was in the United Irishmen. All the founding fathers of the town really are buried there. It’s on an ancient hill as well so it would have been a medieval graveyard prior to the plantation period. That’s where the town really started.”

Rath Church

Meanwhile, Killeshandra’s Tidy Towns Heritage Group will spend their €18,000 grant on urgent work on a mausoleum at the Rath Church and graveyard.

The local community has been working hard to raise funds to protect the historic church and surrounding site after a group adopted the monument as part of the Heritage Council scheme. A roof was erected over the building in recent years to protect the fragile barrel vaulted ceiling below.

The church, one of the few Jacobean style churches remaining in the country, has national architectural importance.

Work is now set to start on a mausoleum in that graveyard also.

€14K for County Museum

The Cavan County Museum will also receive funding. €13,950 is going towards developing an interactive interface in the museum, which it’s hoped will greatly improve the visitor experience. The interface will showcase many of the county’s cultural heritage highlights as sites for tourism and education.

Work on these projects and others across the country can begin immediately which the Heritage Council says “will see hundreds of local communities enriched through initiatives, from the conservation of medieval town defence walls in our walled towns, to the digitisation of otherwise vulnerable materials, to supporting endangered wildlife to thrive in their natural habitats”.

Projects will all be completed by the end of the year.