THE RECOMMENDATION of the Archbishop, and the Bishops of Dublin, and of the local pastors, and 24 parishioners of the parish committee etc, of the parish church of Saint Maur, in Rush, County Dublin, to build a new pyramid-style modern church, at a cost of approximately El million, rather than repair the old church, as recommended by many experts and many parishioners, at a cost of roughly £250,000, can be seen in the light of the current fashion in some quarters in Ireland for big spending.
When I spoke to Mrs Avril Doyle T D, Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, on the occasion of her recent visit to London, she told me that she and the officials of the OPW were strongly of the opinion that the old church should be restored.
A Foras Forbartha report commissioned by Dublin County Council, as yet unpublished, but leaked in all directions, comes down in favour of the restoration of the St Maur's Church in Rush. A local newspaper, the Drogheda Independent, stated recently that while the full details of the report have not been made public, the report states that it is quite possible to repair the church arch, one of the alleged dangerous features of the church, as it presently stands.
The report of An Foras Forbartha, a copy of which has reached the Catholic Herald, is a brief, well documented architectural history of the church, which concludes that with a will, the roof could be rebuilt and the present church retained.
All conservationists are agreed that historically the church of St Maur is of considerable importance as it is a rare instance of a Catholic church in Ireland in continuous use from the mid-eighteenth century to the present. Anyone with any sense of history must agree that the church is a proud monument to the faith of the devoted people of Rush, and the destruction of St Maur's church would do much to destroy the very identity of Rush itself.
In reporting the winners of the £.5000 prize architectural design of the proposed new pyramidstyle church, it is hard to believe that the suggestion was made, and in all seriousness, that the unroofed old church would be "a dignified monastic type ruin, similar to Clonmacnoise on the Rock of Cashel."
Anyone who has seen Clonmacnoise, one of the most celebrated of Ireland's holy places, founded by St Ciaran in 548 AD, and which flourished for 1000 years, or anyone who has seen the Rock of Cashel, the Irish Acropolis, rising 200 feet above the plain, seat of Munster Kings from 370 AD, and visited by St Patrick in 450 AD, can only despair at such fatuous comparisons.
When the St Maur's Catholic Church Restoration Group wrote to Cardinal 0 Fiaich, on behalf of 1600 parishioners, objecting to the proposed destruction of their old church and the building of "modern" wig-warn style edifice in its stead, at enormous and unnecessary expense, His Eminence was in Germany for the 89th Katholikentag, giving a scholarly address on the Life and Times of St Patrick, whose See he represents today. He studied the dossier on his return, and replied courteously, hoping that there had been an amicable settlement.