Re: Re: Rock of Cashel stone conservation restoration

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Well John, thanks for starting off an interesting public debate about the OPW and their deplorable vandalism on Corma`’s Chapel. I am afraid that the defence put up by the OPW in today’s Sunday Times just does not wash and reveals an appaling attitude to the preservation of a monment of such importance and cultural significance – just keep in mind that the coronation rites used in Cashel lie beneath those of the coronation rites of teh kings of France and of England. This chapel is on a cultyral par with the Cappella Palatina in Monreale, the Sixtine in Rome, the Papal Chapel in Avignon and the Sainte Chapelle in Paris. I am afraid that the “hit and miss” approach of the OPW to its restoration simply will nlt do. This is not the place for trialand error. Nothing should be done here unless and until there is all certainty as to its effects and outcome.

It is also clear from the insular attitude of teh OPW that they have neither the experience nor the expertise to tackle a restoration such as that of Cormac’s Chapel and they seem tolack the intelligence to realise that. Lest us take an example of a more professional and serious approach to restoration. The Pauline chapel min the Palazzo Apostolico in Rome is currently under restoration. Those in charge of the retoration could simply have adopted the hit and miss approach of the OPW but they did not. They have agreater sense of responsibility both to the cultural patrimony which they administer and to the artistic integrity of Michelangelo’s two great frescos in this chapel. What did they do before moving? They formed an international commission of recognised experts to study and discuss an integrated project from various aspects and according to the latest and most up to date shcolarship. This was not a job for a piddly firm of private consultants. Only after this proces had been gone through and a lot of rational reflection -in contrast to the OPW’s emoting over brokenheartedness – did work begin. There are no blue barrelle or gutters in the Pauline Chapel. There are no vulgar aluminium doors there -and micro climates can be accomplished without such crudities.

What I would like to know is: Has the OPW formed a similar commission of international expets before going near Cormac’s Chapel? Has the OPW drawn on the considerable experience ofthe Batiments de France when approaching the restoration of this chapel? Has anyone in the OPW thought, for instance, of asking the conservateur des monuments responsible for St Sernin and and teh Basilique des Jacobins in Toulouse for his advice and experience? What about the Dombauverein responsible for the conservation of Speyer catherdral or the romanesque Jakobuskircke in Regensburg (which had such close links with Cashel)? I suspect the answer to all of these questions is probably that it never crossed what the OPW is pleased to call its mind.

As for Mr Gormley, well I hope that he is not faced with a preexisting signed ministeral order beloning to a predecessor on this subject hanging around conveniently in a bottom drawer in the ministry. I would suggest that he start looking for the international expertise and experience so desperately needed to ensure that what is left of Cormac’s Chapel will not be further plundered by the bogtrotters in the OPW. Here we have a case of quod non fecerunt barbari fecit OPW.

Can you imagine ramming a few neat wimdows into the Papal Chapel in Avignon or the Capella Palatina in Monreale. I think some peoplein the OPW should start writing their letters of resignation!!!!

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