The church in Crossakiel served the Church of Ireland parishioners in the parish of Kilskyre. The first recorded vestry minutes book dates to May 1761. Elected church officers – Tobias Chester James Darling and George Booker.
On the 26th of January 1962 the final minutes were recorded. Church officers Mr P.F. O Neil Major Thomson (secretary), The Rev Aldridge and Canon Olden.
Sadly, St Shirias was no longer a place of worship, it was rendered roofless, left doorless and windowless. In 1981, Meath County Council became its custodians. I would stand at the padlocked gate, and wonder why it was so abandoned, so overgrown and neglected. Having retired from work in winter of 04, a church and graveyard committee was formed. A consolidation plan was put in place. We were to be guided by Loreto Guinan (Community and Enterprise).
The church yard gate was unlocked, I stood amongst the briers and nettles. The overgrown ivy, the fallen branches, trees and rubble. The (tidy up) was laborious, long days spent trimming, taming and lugging long tendrils of ivy. Ornate tombs were discovered under mounds of ivy, fallen gravestones were uncovered, and re-erected, gradually, slowly the ground was cleared, then one happy day grass seed was sown. I remember when the spring bulbs were planted on those forgotten graves, little patches of cornflower, Lily of the Valley and Lavender. John rebuilt the stone wall, and we admired the wild seeds germinating into a riot of wonderful colours.
The church itself stands quietly dignified its lofty spire still intact, defying the winter storms. I gather fallen masonry, place it in the ever increasing heap, and I wonder what the definition of a (preserved listed) structure is or should be!!!!
I think of the crafted men who were employed in building St Shirias, their names forgotten with time, as I picked up shards of blue and amber glass from the rubble, within the church. I paused to look at the remains of the granite baptismal font twhich was used to christen children and imagined the young couples who celebrated their marriage there.
One day a monumental craftsman arrived ‘on site’, fifth-generation stonemason, time served at Ardbracken Quarries. He threw a skilful eye over the church building, identified the origin of masonry. Two different quarry stones used in the erection, two building in one. He identified composition of plaster mix and the grout mix for the stone within minutes.
One day the long awaited surveyor arrived, bagged samples of mortar and used digital gadgets. Nine months have lapsed, we are awaiting his conservation report. Our simple low cost plan of consolidating St Shirias as a ruin is on hold.