Acquisition of St Mary’s ends a great year for Kilkenny

This is a press release I issued following the Borough Council’s purchase of St Mary’s Church and Graveyard. I have to say, I felt very proud signing the purchase agreement and to have played a part in bringing this day about. The Church of Ireland and trustees of St Mary’s have to be commended for taking care of it for so long under difficult circumstances. This site sparked my imagination at a very young age. The possibilites around its development and re connection with the civic quarter of the Tholsel are endless, a museum, wildlife garden, community centre, but most of all we can consolidate this beautiful part of the city for locals and visitors to enjoy, a lovely Christmas present. Happy New Year everyone had here’s to another great year for Kilkenny!

The acquisition of St Mary’s church and graveyard in Kilkenny City caps a great end to Kilkenny’s historic 400 celebrations in 2009. That’s according to Kilkenny’s Mayor Malcolm Noonan. In welcoming the allocation of 700, 000 in funding from the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mayor Noonan acknowledged the priority given to the site by his colleague, Environment Minister, John Gormley following his visit in November.

‘I am encouraged that the allocation of this funding will now secure the long term viability of St Mary’s and establish it as a key heritage site in Kilkenny, linked to the Tholsel. As an ecclesiastical site, St Mary’s is important as St Canice’s Cathedral. It contains many monuments and features of international interest. I am delighted to have been involved in this process, particularly as I had set it out as a key priority in my agenda for my year as Mayor’ said Mayor Noonan.

Mayor Noonan acknowledged the funding support of the Heritage Council and the elected members of Kilkenny Borough Council. He also paid tribute to the Church of Ireland for their efforts in maintaining the property under very difficult circumstances for many years. ‘I now hope that the purchase of the church and graveyard will endorse the implementation of the Conservation Plan. While some work is underway on certain monuments, we will be looking at a long term strategy to present the site in an imaginative way that will build on the City’s rich built and cultural heritage’ he said.

‘Key to that development will be the reconnection of St Mary’s and the Tholsel perhaps beginning with the re opening of the arched gate connecting both properties. I envision both sites as a single heritage area, developing a medieval museum, re presenting the city charters and documents and creating a habitat around the graveyard, while giving the public access to the stunning array of tombs and monuments contained in it’ said Mayor Noonan.

‘However that is work for another day. This is a good day for Kilkenny. Our strongest asset is our heritage, and we have now secured the missing link in that heritage. I would like to pay tribute to the county manager, Joe Crockett and all of the stakeholders involved in this process. The cooperation of everyone involved has allowed us to avail of this funding opportunity and take ownership of this historic gem in the heart of medieval Kilkenny’ he concluded.