St Johns Church of Ireland
St Johns Church of Ireland parish church lies close to the landmark Lough Ree power station beside Lanesborough.
Designed by the architect Joseph Welland, St John’s in its present form was completed in 1862, though there were other churches on the site. It is regarded as a typical example of late-nineteenth century Church of Ireland churches due to features such as its bellcote.
A bellcote is a structure that encloses a bell and is an alternative to a bell-tower. The present bell was crafted in the Eagle Foundry in Dublin and was presented by Col. Henry White who was a Member of Parliament for Longford. It is embossed with a harp surrounded by shamrocks and is inscribed with ‘Eireann Go Bragh’.
There is an unconfirmed tradition of a monastery on the site of St John’s. It is likely that there was a church here, served by the Canons Regular of St Augustine, from nearby Saints Island. George Lane rebuilt a church on the site in the late 1670s.
Lane had been granted Ballyleague as a royal borough in 1664 and renamed it Lanesborough. In 1691, the church was extensively damaged during a skirmish that was part of the war between Kings William and James.
In 1740, some of the damage was repaired, though the tower remained in ruins, presumably until the construction work of the 1850s. There are interesting gravestones surrounding the church including one from 1690. Interestingly, a time capsule was installed inside the church by the parishioners in 2012, to be sealed for 150 years.
The church is open to the public during the summer months, usually from approximately 10am to late afternoon. An exhibition on the church and its history will be on display.