Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

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Now that the smoke has begun to clear from St Mel’s and we know it wasn’t arson, rather an ‘act of God’ (ironically), we need to plan for the furure. The remarkably erudite, calm and civilised letter from the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise is a good starting point. However, this is a national, rather than local, loss and a national appeal for funds should be launched (yes, even in a recession); without a vision, the people perish, or just mope about.
The reconstruction should be used as a demonstration project in how to recover some of the lost (?) skills in building and decoration exemplified by the neo-classical and renaissance styles as in St Mel’s. There is no room here for any kind of modernist interpretation; it has to be a contemporary, but sympathetic, remodelling. As Prax says, worse could be done than looking at the work of Duncan Stroik and seeing that there is some life left (to put it mildly) in the neo-renaissance approach. However, even more valuably, the restoration could be undertaken on the ‘atelier’ or ‘chantier’ principle – dedicated craftspeople learning skills on the job (including local apprentices and trainees) and devoted entirely to this project over,say, five years. (FAS, are you listening?) The skills learned would be precious and transferable; there is,after all, a huge market in unwrecking many churches all over Ireland and beyond. Out of the disaster of St Mel’s could come some long-term good.

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