Old Magourney church and graveyard can be found in Coachford village, just across the road from Coachford national school. Here was the medieval parish church of Magourney. A new church, built by 1750, was repaired c. 1818/19 and closed c. 1857. Since then, the church has fallen into a ruined state, but the graveyard continued to be used for burials up to 2001. Today visitors include relatives of those interred, and occasionally people interested in researching their roots. Unfortunately, there also appear to be some unwelcome visitors, of whom more is said below.
In 2013, a much needed clearance of overgrowth and general clean up took place at Magourney church and graveyard, initiated by members of ACR Heritage and involving other volunteers. The daunting task was made less so by the assistance of workers on community employment schemes. 2013 was a busy year at Magourney graveyard, with the unveiling of Magourney Famine Memorial, and an extensive survey was undertaken by ACR Heritage (in conjunction with Eachtra Archaeological Projects, which is now hosted on historicgraves.com ). Here is a picture of the interior of Magourney church in 2013. It is clean, reasonably well-maintained, with limited weed cover. Take careful note of the plaster to be found on the wall to the left and also around the arch and within the apse of the church.
Since 2013, Magourney unfortunately has returned to a neglected and overgrown state. As a heritage committee with small membership, it is difficult for us to preserve the entire heritage within the parish, and inevitably the appearance of this historic church and graveyard have suffered. Magourney church and graveyard are listed as National Monuments, and the latter is in the charge of Cork County Council, and yet nothing is done by the authorities in the sense of maintenance. This is not unusual. Graveyards up and down the county and country, particularly older ones, are often left to their own devices, unless volunteers are willing to come on board. Neglect however can be overcome, with time and dedicated work.
Sadly things have occurred at Magourney church within past years, and some recent, which cannot be undone. The following two images speak for themselves. Firstly, there are things which are relatively easy to resolve, such as the drink cans strewn everywhere; broken glass; litter; and even insulation tape tied for some reason to grave railings.
But then we encounter what can be seen in the next image … unadulterated, wanton, mindless vandalism, where the church itself was interfered with. Stones and plaster ripped from the walls, and from around plaque memorials. Stones and plaster having survived years of adverse weather, wars and changes through history, only to fall victim to unsociable behaviour.
A place of sanctity, worship and burial, became a place of worship of the bottle and/or other substances. A perfect example, sadly all too common, of a lack of regard and respect by the perpetrators for those who went before them, for local heritage, and by such behaviour even for themselves.