LARNE Tuesday Group members enjoyed a tour of St Cedma’s Parish Church led by Patricia McNeill.
The ancient site dates back to pre-Christian times when some form of Celtic worship was conducted before it became an Augustinian monastery, the remains of which are seen in the ancient boundary wall.
The present Norman church dates from 1350 and still bears traces of Celtic worship, as seen in the remnants of flower, animal and green man decoration built into the facade of the building.
St Cedma’s has magnificent stained glass windows, two of which were designed by Wilhelmina Geddis, Belfast, in 1925 in strong vibrant colours. The encaustic tiled chancel floor and east wall bear emblems of saints and other ecclesiastic symbols, as well as implements used in Christ’s crucifixion.
Above the chancel ceiling there are 32 cells of various shapes of crosses as well as emblems of saints painted in gold leaf on canvas. Gifts and wall plaques donated by parishioners adorn the chancel and other parts of the church.
After the guided tour some ventured out into the cold to the graveyard, where Patricia pointed out the oldest gravestone, which dates from 1677, and many other features.
The graveyard was once the only one in Larne and open to all for burial until it was closed in 1870, after which time the McGarel Cemetery became the burial site in Larne.
It was repeated many times over the course of the tour that the church and graveyard belongs to all in Larne and in fact encapsulates the history of the town from its earliest beginnings.
All are welcome to visit both the church and graveyard as well as to take part in Church services.