Building History

The building comprises of an old Presbyterian Church and adjoining Manse Building.

The Church building was designed by a local architect, Mr. Murdoch Campbell and his work can also be seen as follies in the grounds of the now world famous Ballyfin Demesne such as the round tower and the caves at the lakeside.

Mr. Murdoch was a member of the Presbyterian congregation at the time and provided the plans free of charge.

The foundation stone for the church was laid on the 6th September 1853 by Mr.William Todd (Builder) in the presence of Murdoch Campbell and the then Minister, Henry McManus. The commemorative plaque was found buried in the foundations during the redevelopment works and is now on display in the Forum.

It appear from the records that a house was demolished to make space for the Church and the adjacent house retained and integrated into the church as living accommodation (Manse) for the serving minister.

The Church was first opened on 27th August in 1854 by Dr. Morgan of Fisherwick Church, Belfast and he preached the first sermon to a packed Church.

The cost of the Church and manse were slightly over £1,000. In 1857, Minister Henry McManus, declared the church and manse free from all the debt.

However, as with most religions, congregation numbers have diminished along with the industrial decline within the area. In recent years, the congregation declined to such numbers that they were unable to sustain the church and its costly upkeep and it fell into disrepair.  Therefore a decision was made to sell the Church and its Manse. 

In 2012, the property was purchased and with the support of Laois Partnership Group, plans were developed to convert the buildings to provide Hostel facilities for visiting tourists taking part in walking groups or simply taking advantage of the  local attractions including the nearby Slieve Bloom Mountains.

In addition, there is a significant increase in visitors tracing their ancestral roots in the local areas, some of which can trace their ancestors to the local workhouse in Mountmellick.