Faith Matters

Capturing churches on camera

Ballintoy Church on the Causeway Coast is one of the church buildings included in the Explore Churches website. Photographer Laura McIlveen will take pictures of churches across Northern Ireland for the Treasure Ireland project. Picture by Laura McIlveen

OUR church buildings are an integral part of Ireland's landscape, stitched into the fabric of our parishes, towns and cities.

We may already be familiar with their presence, and now a new project aims to also raise their profile for visitors.

Causeway Coast photographer Laura McIlveen has been appointed by the National Churches Trust to travel around Northern Ireland to take photographs of some key churches and chapels.

Her pictures will be used on the trust's 'Explore Churches' tourism website to inspire visitors to discover the architecture and stories of the north's faith heritage.

A number of Northern Ireland churches already feature on the site but the plan is to develop this area of work through the trust's 'Treasure Ireland' project.

This supports historic places of worship and has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and the Department for Communities.

It offers grants for repairs as well as help and advice with maintenance to help keep church buildings in good condition, and so avoid having to carry out expensive repairs.

"Northern Ireland has an amazingly rich heritage of church and chapel buildings," said Nina McNeary, the National Churches Trust's church support officer for Northern Ireland.

"This includes 895 listed places of worship, with 45 churches and chapels listed as Grade A, buildings of the highest heritage significance.

"We want more people to appreciate their architecture and history and Treasure Ireland will help put churches and chapels on the tourist map.

"High quality photographs will help to increase the number of people visiting churches in Northern Ireland for days out or as part of a holiday."

 The National Churches Trust 'Treasure Ireland' wants more people to appreciate the architecture and history of our church buildings and to put them on the tourist map

Photographer Laura Mcllveen said her own interest in photography was first sparked whilst on a trip to Whiterocks Beach, Portrush - "my happy place".

"It was a beautiful day, and I just wanted to capture all that beauty. For my next birthday I asked for a camera and my photographic journey began," she said.

"I'm passionate about high quality visuals, unique moments in time, amazing light, and the beautiful landscape we have right on our doorstep.

"I love to showcase a building's unique character and how it fits in a landscape. I look forward to capturing unique buildings with such important heritage stories to tell."

explorechurches.org

nationalchurchestrust.org/treasure-ireland

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Faith Matters