Saint Peter's Tin Church, Laragh, County Monaghan

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Saint Peter's Tin Church, Laragh, County Monaghan Saint Peter's Tin Church, Laragh, County Monaghan

A few months after my cancer treatment in 2019, I was travelling through the sunny, lush Irish countryside and found a sign that I had passed many times before. 

It was for Saint Pater's Church, Laragh, County Monaghan.

So off I went for a bit of exploration. Travelling along a small, windy road lined with heavy vegetation, in particular large ash trees, I found the small, attractive church along the roadside; a road that was undergoing resurfacing.

I could see that the door was open, often a rarity in rural Ireland these days so I headed into the grounds, past a small stream and climbed the steps into the quaint, unusual church.

Inside I found some fine stained glass windows, terracotta floor tiles and lots of wood. Interestingly there was a pulpit on a rock, to be expected in a church dedicated to Saint Peter of course.

The outside of the church is made of neatly painted and tidy looking corrugated tin.

Built in 1890 and consecrated the following year, it was largely funded by a local tweed mill owner called James McKean who had been inspired by travels overseas and who wanted to build a church to suit the small congregation, many of whom worked in his various enterprises.

This was not intended, as many tin or iron churches were, to be a temporary structure. Tin, or iron churches were often advertised at the time for their affordability and the ease with which they could be removed and re-erected elsewhere. 

The traceried east window with four quatrefoils and fine stained glass, the attention to detail on the exterior of the church with its iron finials, the cockerel weather vane and the quality of the woodworking skills hint at a building that was to last generations.

Indeed Saint Peter's in Laragh served as a church for the ever-dwindling Church of Ireland community, with decreasing regularity, until the early 1960s when it was de-consecrated.

It fell into disrepair until it was restored by community effort in 2014.

And it is true to say that the restoration was a stellar effort, the 'tin tabernacle', as it is also sometimes known, is one of only a few buildings of its type in Ireland.

St. Peter's Tin Church, Laragh, County Monaghan, Ireland
Exterior detail of St. Peter's Tin Church, Laragh, County Monaghan, Ireland also known as a tin tabernacle or iron church, Saint Peter's was built in the 1890s.


Saint Peter's Tin Church, Laragh, County Monaghan, Ireland
View of Saint Peter's Tin Church from the roadside in rural County Monaghan, Ireland showing the cockerel weathervane and colourful corrugated tin sheeting exterior.
Last modified on Saturday, 25 September 2021 00:47
Darren McLoughlin

International travel photographer and Irishman in search of the best bits of Ireland. Leading photography tours and experiences in Ireland.

Contributor to New York Times / Sunday Times / Irish Times

Cancer survivor.

Ask me about Ireland or about photography in Ireland.

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