The historic Bonamargy Friary site has recently undergone repairs conducted through the NI Heritage Skills Programme. This programme hopes to give local people specialist training and skills which will assist in the conservation and protection of our built heritage.
The important scheme, which kicked off in 2020, gave six individuals the opportunity to train in areas including stonemasonry and metalwork, and is delivered by The Department for Communities’ Historic Environment Division in partnership with The Prince’s Foundation. Trainees had the opportunity to help with works at key historic sites, such as Bonamargy and Hillsborough Castle.
It is hoped that the NI Heritage Skills programme will help to fill the chronic shortfall of local skilled craftspeople across Northern Ireland, a shortfall which poses a threat to our historic buildings and monuments.
Recent works being undertaken at Bonamargy (a State Care Monument located just outside Ballycastle and within Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) include the repair of a lateral gothic arch located above the Friary’s vault and the repair of a further brick arch. Specially sourced replacement stone and brick are being used to restore the site’s 500 year old masonry. Trainees have had the opportunity to gain experience of the expert techniques required to conserve and repair such historic features. Such essential works are vital for the protection and conservation of our built heritage and historic environment, which contribute greatly to our local economy and represent our shared heritage.