The Old Presbyterian Church
The Presbyterian Church was designed by a local architect, Mr. Murdoch Campbell, whose work can also be seen as follies in the grounds of Ballyfin House such as the round tower and the caves down at the lake. 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 would appear from the records that a house was demolished to make space for the church and an adjacent house retained and integrated into the church to retain living accommodation for the minister, i.e the Manse.
The Presbyterian Church in Mountmellick 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 plans were developed supported by the Laois Partnership Group to convert it into a Hostel for tourists which are increasingly taking part in walking groups, taking advantage of the local Slieve Bloom Mountains.
In addition, there is a significant increase in visitors tracing their ancestral roots, some of which can trace their ancestors to the local workhouse.