Inside the Embury Heck Memorial Church at Ballingrane

For many the most precious Palatine heritage which has survived to the present time is the little Methodist Church in Ballingrane. Built by the local Palatine community in 1766, on a site donated by the Heck family.  It replaced an earlier, smaller meeting house.

The cemetary was laid out towards the end of the last century. The headstones represent one of the greatest concentrations of Palatine family names outside of the Palatinate itself. They include Shiers, Switzers, Sparlings, Teskeys, Bakers, Raynards, Ruttles, Bovenizers, Millers, Doupes and Delemages.

There are some interesting memorial tablets in the church, chief among them being those to Barbara Heck and Philip Embury, to commemorate their part in the founding of the Methodist Church in America.

In 1760 Barbara and Philip, along with other Palatine families, emigrated from Ballingrane and settled in New York. In 1766, at the urging of Barbara, Philip preached the first Methodist sermon in New York. He had been a lay preacher in Ireland.  Today it is estimated that there are fourteen million Methodists in America.  

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One cannot enter the building without noticing a large cow’s horn hanging on the wall. This dates back to the days of itinerant preachers, who travelled on horseback.  It was sounded to inform folk that a preacher had arrived. 

One of the outstanding features of the church is a baptismal font made from an original rafter from the kitchen of Barbara Heck’s old home.

A fine manual organ was bequeathed by Mrs. Stevenson of Limerick in memory of her husband, Ernest, who took a great interest in the church and its surrounds.

In the porch there are two display cases containing memorabilia and artefacts from both sides of the Atlantic. Included are postcard size reproductions of portraits of Barbara Heck and Philip Embury,(the originals of which hang in John Street Methodist Church, New York; photographs of the interior and exterior of Barbara Heck’s home at Fortview, and of the pear tree under which John Wesley preached. (That tree was blown down in a storm but there is still a pear tree on the same spot which was grown from a scion of the original.s.

from an article by Lily Baker

recently the church celebrated its 250th anniversary

The Palatines and the Embury Heck Methodist Church contributed by Audrey Ruttle

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