Built in 1817, thanks to the great determination of Fr Thomas Hearne who also spearheaded the building of a school in Killea, the church has several unusual features and is of significant historical and architectural importance.
The building suffered from dampness for many years and its roof was in need of significant repair.
Various activities have been taking place in the locality to fund the costs associated with the restoration work.
One local group which has been involved in fundraising for the project is Gaultier Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA)
The ICA plays a hugely important role in communities throughout the length and breadth of Ireland and the Gaultier area is no exception.
The ICA’s aim is to provide a welcoming and fun organisation which offers support, friendship, personal development, education and live long learning.
However, Gaultier ICA members go even further by regularly fundraising for various good causes.
“We are small in number but what we lack in quantity we make up for in quality,” said Secretary of Gaultier ICA Mary O’Neill who is also on the Killea Church Restoration Fund committee.
“We are a welcoming guild. We enjoy laughs and jokes and we have lots of nights out. For me, there are three pillars to the ICA: Friendship, Learning and Charity.”
President of Gaultier ICA is Mary Guinan and Treasurer is Ita Dalton.
The guild recently held its annual craft and cake sale which once again proved to be a tremendous success.
Throughout the past 13 years, this popular event has raised funds for charities including the Special Olympics; Intellectual Disabilities; Friends of St Patrick’s; AWARE; Irish Guide Dogs; Waterford Hospice; Street Children of Calcutta; St Vincent de Paul; Waterford Autism Social & Sports Action (WASSA); Jack & Jill Foundation; MS Ireland; Lasallian Developing World Projects; Alzheimer’s Society; and Oasis House; South East Simon Community.
In total, Gaultier ICA has raised more than €21,000 through the efforts of members.
“We have also supported the GAA club in whatever way we can,” explained Mary.
“The use of their club house is very important to all of us for our ICA meetings, craft nights and art on Tuesday mornings.”
The funds from this year’s craft and cake sale (an impressive €1,400) were last week presented to Fr Brian Power towards the Killea Church Restoration Fund.
At a meeting held in Gaultier GAA Clubhouse last Wednesday night, Mary O’Neill praised all of her fellow ICA members for their hard work in preparing for the recent event which was a huge success.
Bridget Quann is also a member of both Gaultier ICA and the Killea Church Restoration Fund committee.
She explained that work is being carried out on a phased basis and said it’s hoped to have exterior improvement works completed later this year.
Much exterior work has already been carried out including work on the church’s bell, creating a wheelchair accessible toilet, general repair work etc.
“At the moment, we’re raising funds to start work inside. The next stage will cost between €60,000 and €100, 000,” she explained.
Considerable work is involved in terms of fundraising activities in order to obtain such a significant amount of money.
All the money which has been raised so far has come from local events and donations which is testament to the generosity of the local community.
Events have included concerts, bridge mornings, and weekly trad nights in Dunmore East.
“The committee members put in a lot of work but it has been a real community effort,” said Bridget.
“This will be our legacy for future generations.”
Fellow member Catherine Griffin agreed that the project has generated great community spirit.
“People have been very generous. When all the work is finished, there will be a great sense of achievement that a community came together to work on the project,” she said.
The efforts of various groups and organisations such as the ICA certainly deserve huge credit – and not just because of their fundraising activities.
ICA guilds provide an important outlet for women throughout the country, allowing them to create new friendships, improve their skills etc.
ICA members enjoy participation in many activities including nights out, trips away and regular get-together for a cup of tea and a chat.
And of course, ICA guilds throughout the country are renowned for their delicious cakes, buns, tarts and various other treats!
The activities of Gaultier ICA provide a wonderful snapshot of the positive impact which the ICA can have in a local community.
Find out more about Gaultier ICA and the Killea Church Restoration Fund by contacting Mary O’Neill on 086-2104596.