Co Antrim parish left more than half a million pounds in will

More than half a million pounds has been bequeathed to the parish of Glenavy and Killead to help pay off a building loan, including for work at St Joseph's Church in Glenavy
Gareth McKeown

A Catholic parish in Co Antrim has been left more than half a million pounds in a will.

The remarkable act of generosity by Ballinderry man Peter McAreavey is thought to be one of the largest donations ever received within the Diocese of Down and Connor.

Mr McAreavey was a life-long member of the parish of Glenavy and Killead and died peacefully in hospital in July 2015.

A farmer, who also did some engineering work, he lived a modest lifestyle according to those who knew him.

At Masses across the parish last weekend, a statement by Fr Colm McBride outlined the "extraordinary gift".

"In the will Mr McAreavey instructed his executors that the residue of his estate was to be gifted to the parish of Glenavy and Killead to help pay off the parish building loan. With the condition that it was used solely for that purpose," it said.

"On the second week of January this year the parish received a cheque for the sum of £554,000. It is an extraordinary and wonderful gift to our parish. This gift of over half a million pounds means that almost a third of our debt has been wiped out.

"So as we begin a new financial year I'm happy to say that our debt now stands not at £1.68 million, but is now reduced to £1,135,000. The only way we can express our gratitude to Peter is to pray for his soul."

A parishioner who knew Mr McAreavey well described him as "quiet, generous man".

"He was just a genuinely generous man and was very kind to his family and friends and left the huge sum of money to the parish," he said.

"He doted on his nieces and nephews and anyone who took time out of their day to visit him he remembered them in his will."

In addition to the donation to his local parish, Mr McAreavey bequeathed £70,000 to the neighbouring St Clare's Community Centre in Glenavy.

The centre, which was formerly the church hall, was given to the community around two years ago, with money raised locally through loans going towards improvements works.

These loans were paid back through Mr McAreavey's donation.

An undisclosed sum was also received by St Joseph's, Glenavy GAC, where Mr Areavey was a former player and member.

Peter McAreavey was the brother of the late Lawrence, Arthur, Patricia, Bridie, Gertrude and Mary. His funeral Mass took place in St Joseph's Church, Glenavy and he is buried in the adjoining churchyard

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