HC Deb 19 February 1891 vol 350 cc1078-9
MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been directed to a letter of the Rev. Thomas Long, M.A., rector of St. Michan's Church, Dublin, appearing in the Irish Times of 16th January, 1891, stating that the tower of St. Michan's Church is in a dangerous condition and fast going to decay, but that the Ancient Monuments Board will do nothing for its repair unless the Church Body will consent to to give up the use of this tower to them; whether he has seen a letter in the Spectator of the 29th November, from Mr. W. G. S. Bagot, commenting on the defects of the administration of "The Ancient Monuments Protection Act, 1882," and stating that out of a sum of£150 voted by Parliament for the year 1889–90 for the preservation of ancient monuments in Ireland, only £1 7s. 6d. was actually spent on them, the balance going back to the Treasury; and whether he will take some step, either by the amendment of the law or otherwise, so as to prevent the tower of St. Michan's Church, which was built in 1036, and is from its historic associations one of the most interesting structures in Ireland, from falling into ruin from want of funds for its repair, when moneys voted by Parliament for the preservation of ancient buildings are actually paid back to the Treasury?


The Tower of St. Michan's Church is, I am informed, in a dilapidated condition; but as the church is in the custody of the representative body of the Church of Ireland, and is used as a place of worship, the Commissioners of Public Works have no power to expend Public money on its repair. The works necessary for the preservation of the ancient monuments which have been placed under the guardianship of the Commissioners of Public Works, under the Ancient Monuments Protection Act, 1882, have been carried out under the supervision of Sir Thomas Deane, an architect who has devoted much time and attention to the subject, and to whose professional reputation it is not necessary for me to add my testimony. I am not aware of the qualifications possessed by the correspondent of the Spectator for criticising Sir Thomas Deane. The sum of £150 voted in 1889–90 was not expended, as the owners of the monuments on which it was proposed to expend it declined to permit any work to be carried out in connection with them.


asked whether any of the large surplus of the £5,700 placed in the custody of the Board of Works, to be expended by them on ancient monuments in connection with buildings which formerly belonged to the Irish Church, could be devoted to repairing St. Michan's Church?


said the difficulty was that this money could only be applied to monuments which were under the care of the Board of Works. The law would have to be amended to enable the money to be applied to a case such as this, but he would be glad to consider the subject.