A BUILDING with an incredibly unique history is now being offered for sale in Fermanagh.

The former Monea chapel, captured here in its haunting beauty by Impartial Reporter photographer John McVitty, has been derelict for many years but is now available on the market, with no signs today of the high passions that once centred around this now peaceful site.

The ruin could become a residential home, if there is the required work put in to it, with prospective buyers inheriting not just the bones of a fine property, but also a true slice of history related to the site.

The building is listed for sale with Enniskillen firm Smyth Leslie and Niall Smyth helped unearth some of the buildings conroversial history.

The site has been home to many trials and tribulations over the years, including a dispute 200 years ago between parishioners and a bishop over who should be Parish Priest (PP) in an incident that became known as ‘the Monea Schism’, which even was eventually raised in Rome.

The shcism started with an argument that began to brew across the parish following the death of Fr. James McGirr, in 1815.

There was unease amongst the parishoners as they wished for popular curate Fr. James Duffy to take on the mantle of PP, but feared this would not come to pass – so much so that when Fr. Daniel Boylan, who later became the Bishop of Clogher, was appointed as PP to Monea, some of the prisoners refused to recognise Fr. Boylan’s appointment.

Unhappy with the situation, Bishop Murphy suspended Fr. Duffy, whose supporters refused to recognise his suspension, and began to revolt against Fr. Boylan.

This feud ended up splitting the parish in two as locals rallied around their preferred option for PP.

Supporters of Fr. Duffy committed some offences against Fr. Boylan, even including cruelly cutting off his horse’s ears and tail.

The issues between the two rival groups of supporters eventually made their way to the courts, with some of the subsequent court proceedings recorded in the Erne Packet – now The Impartial Reporter.

Fr. Boylan resigned in 1816 and was swiftly replaced by Fr. Nicholas Smyth, but Fr. Duffy’s supporters also did not welcome his appointment, and closed the church against Fr. Smyth.

The Bishop, having no further options, decided to interdict Fr. Duffy’s supporters and banned them from Lough Derg. In response, Fr. Duffy set up his own pilgrimage site at Monea Chapel.

The matter was not resolved until 1818 when Bishop Murphy asked Rome to absolve the censures he had imposed on the parishioners of Monea.

Apart from such a contentious moment in the site’s long history, the chapel had two separate entrances for men and woman.

When Canon McQuaid was PP, he had a very conversational tone of sermon and liked to enquire of his parishioners about the latest goings on – such as who was sick and who had emigrated.

In the early Twentieth Century, the site began to deteriorate and the present Monea Chapel was built, which was opened in 1911. It is alleged by locals that the slates from Monea church were used on the Catholic church in Derrygonnelly when it was built.

The site had been in use until the mid-Twentieth Century when Monea Band used it as a practice hall for their music; the group partially reroofed the site so that it was fit for their needs.

Today, as the photos show, the original walls have been retained which keeps the character of this unique building – it is a fine site and is ready to find a new owner, who will surely add their own tales to the life and legacy of this historic site.