Sunday, 12 October 2008

Iconic cathedral poised for €1m repairs grant from council

AN ICONIC cathedral and leading tourist attraction is poised to get a €1 million council grant to help with repairs.

It is hoped if Cork City Council sanctions the move to partially fund the estimated €4m refurbishment works on the landmark St Finbarre’s Cathedral, it will kick-start the process of securing further funding from central Government.

Designed by William Burges and consecrated in 1870, the cathedral is a city landmark. The site of worship since the 7th century, it is of international architectural significance and attracted more than 26,000 visitors last year.

However, Dean of Cork, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne, said key refurbishments are needed to secure the building’s future.

“If we don’t do this work, the building will end up in serious trouble and there could be implications for keeping it open,” he said.

All the Cork limestone stonework needs to be re-pointed, gargoyles will have to be repaired and some remade.

The spires have to be weatherproofed and inside, the marble around the high altar also needs repair.

The entire works could cost up to €4m.

“We can no longer do what we have been doing — piecemeal repairs. It is just not cost effective,” Very Rev Dunne said.

Contractors TKB Southgate and Associates are restoring the cathedral’s northwest spire and are due to complete the work in November.

Very Rev Dunne said he would like to continue with work on the southwest spire and west frontage rather than taking down all the scaffolding and putting it up again next year when further funding is expected.

He has discussed the issue with city manager Joe Gavin who will recommend to councillors the city offers financial support, up to a maximum of €1m, over the coming years. The dean has approached the Heritage Council and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government for funding.

“In view of the important heritage value of St FinBarre’s, I recommend that the city council offers financial support,” Mr Gavin will say in a report before councillors on Monday. Mr Gavin is grappling with a direction from Government to slash 3% from the council’s payroll budget, funded from revenue sources.

It is understood the funding for the St FinBarre’s project will come from capital spending. The city is using €1.25m from capital funds to buy the original North Monastery School from the Christian Brothers and to transform it into a cultural centre.

Irish Examiner

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