Sea Church is the former St Colman’s Church of Ireland, built in 1835 for £330 which was raised by subscription. The church suffered over the years due to a dwindling local Church of Ireland population, and gradually the church fell into disuse and was finally closed.
In 1995, the church was to feature as part of a multi-million dollar Hollywood film, Divine Rapture, starring Marlon Brando, Debra Winger & Johnny Depp. The film’s legacy was to provide a steady tourist market for the village.
However, just two weeks into filming and with only twenty-four minutes of film shot, the cast and crew departed, with local businesses left to carry the legacy of the production’s unpaid debts. You can watch the Sky Arts documentary Ballybrando here, which looks back at the ill-fated production.
As dreams crumbled then and as the church continued its passive existence, in 2018, Ballycotton-born Pearse Flynn set out to realise a dream of his own when he purchased the church from American vendors.
A multi-million euro revamp began to take this diamond in the rough from decline and into restoration. Special care was taken in the renovation of the church and a huge amount of time, energy and passion have been dedicated over a two-year restoration programme.
There is an anchor above the door of St Colman’s church. The anchor was a common symbol used by churches during the period of Roman persecution of Christians. An anchor held a ship in place during storms and symbolises strength & hope. In addition, the shape simulates the shape of a cross. The hope was, of course, that the ship, so anchored, would be there when needed again. When lifted from the water, it represents a new adventure, a new voyage.
Sea Church restaurant is located in the building adjacent St Colman’s church, which was originally a small local schoolhouse.
A contemporary glass atrium has been built to adjoin the former schoolhouse to the church. The contrast of glass and the historic church building marries perfectly as the extension’s floor-to-ceiling glass and glass roof brings nature’s rugged elements beautifully into play.
Inside, a mixture of bench seating and loose furniture made with high quality finished leather fill the space. Colour combinations of calming teal blue and revitalising forest green are inspired by ocean life.
By the kitchen, a large table with a live edge table-top sits beneath a feature light fitting. Along the walls, onset cabinets are fitted with a brushed oak frame exposing the grain of the timber while oak beams are fixed to the ceiling.
The walls themselves are finished in sand and cement as large feature light fittings illuminate the restaurant. In the corner sits a feature fire place while planting adds some indoor greenery.
The restaurant’s calming interior absorbs its surroundings, the Irish Sea, sun and sky and reflects it back into the design and function of the space.
Patrons are spared the wildness of the Atlantic. With the disappearance and appearance of sunlight, the mood is dramatically altered as the day turns into night.
“The design had to come from the surrounding beauty. We wanted to maintain the harmony of life and give a modern maritime feel inside the restaurant. We wanted to steer away from the traditional and look at something fresh and forward.”
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