Conservation St. Bigseach’s Church

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Historical background

St. Bigseach’s church lies outside the Co. Westmeath village of Kilbixy on a site which once was occupied by a medieval monastic settlement. The church is also just one of a number of related structures that include a Greek-Revival mausoleum and rectory. It was built circa 1800 at the expense of Lord Sunderlin and the design is often attributed to architect Francis Johnston. In September 2002 the finials were deemed unsafe and thus the church was closed. The Kilbixy Restoration Fund applied to the Irish Georgian Society who, recognising the architectural importance of St. Bigseach’s Church, donated nearly forty-percent of the total finial restoration costs.


Brief description of project

The project was completed with attention to historic accuracy and retention of original fabric. It included cleaning all of the finial stone joints and rebedding select stones, fitting stainless steel plates and affixing them to the buttress base, and replacing existing finial rods with stainless steel rods when absolutely necessary. Additional restoration works were carried out on the church and it was successfully re-opened.

St. Bigseach’s Church imbues the ancient borough of Kilbixy with historic character and is a bastion of beautiful Gothic artistry and architecture. Due to contributions from organisations like the Irish Georigan Society it has been secured for its original use as a place of worship and will continue to stand as a fine example of Irish built heritage.

Architectural description

St. Bigseach’s church is an ashlar stone structure consisting of a five-bay hall complete with a three-level, square tower to the southwest. The structure is graced with English-style crenelations, as well as clasping buttresses topped by pinnacles and fleur-de-lis finials. The church also possesses a hipped roof hidden by a battlement parapet, and is replete with intricate Gothic detail, including quatrefoils, Y-tracery at the belfry openings, and pointed arch niches.