I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time".
This Bill is to enable the ruined 15th century church at the national monument, Holycross Abbey, County Tipperary, to be restored for use for ecclesiastical purposes. The suggestion to restore the church was made to the Government by his Grace the Archbishop of Cashel who offered to bear the cost of restoration.
Holycross Abbey was founded about 1181 by the O'Briens, Kings of Thomond, for the Cistercians. It took its name from a relic of the True Cross which the abbey possessed and which made it a noted place of pilgrimage. The buildings, which contain some 13th century additions, were extensively remodelled about the 15th century. They provide outstanding examples of the distinctively Irish style of Gothic architecture. Noteworthy features include the ornate Butler tomb and Sedilia, the cloister erected in the middle of the 15th century and a fresco in the north transept which depicts a hunting scene.
Certain legal provisions must be made to enable the project to proceed. These are:
(1) The Commissioners of Public Works need to be given legal power to restore the national monument: under the National Monuments Acts, the commissioners have power merely to preserve national monuments;
(2) Doubt requires to be removed as to the power of the commissioners, when granting a lease or licence under section 17 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1954, to require a lessee or licensee to pay the cost of restoration works; and
(3) It is necessary to remove any prohibition against the use of the church as a place of public worship which may be contained in section 25 (1) of the Irish Church Act, 1869, pursuant to which Holycross Abbey was vested in the Commissioners of Public Works.
The proposal to restore the ruined church has been discussed with the authorities of the Church of Ireland who have no objections. The work of restoration will be done under the supervision of the Commissioners of Public Works.
I am sure that it will be accepted that a monument restored for appropriate use as a living thing is to be preferred to a ruin. I accordingly commend this Bill to the House with confidence that it will be favourably received. It is not contentious.