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IT IS suggested that in the interests of “health and safety” Cork County Council will propose that a large part of the funds which have been ringfenced to restore the historic Innishannon Tower in Co Cork will be used not only to clear the debris left after the collapse of part of the structure in the winter of 2007 but also to reduce the height of the rest of the tower.
Reducing its height will of course destroy the integrity of the structure and probably ensure that it is never renovated to its former glory.
For Cork County Council this tower, which was part of the ancient church and graveyard gifted to them some years ago by the Church of Ireland, is a continual liability for which there is an immediate call for funds and for which there will be intermittent requirements for funding for all time.
For the community of Innishannon it is a priceless and irreplaceable asset on a site which has been part of our history for more than 1,000 years and which should be conserved for the benefit and enjoyment of many future generations.
If for one party this property is a liability and for another it is a priceless asset there has to be a point at which the two can come to an accommodation.
I would suggest that, with all suitable safeguards, transfer of ownership should be given serious consideration so that the whole graveyard, including the church and tower, are conveyed to a group of local trustees for the exclusive enjoyment and use by the people of the village. Lawyers can draft suitable clauses to ensure all the requirements of the original deed of gift are complied with and the document would include any and all of the conditions deemed desirable by the council.
In addition there could a clause stating that in the event of any failure by the trustees for the time being to comply with the sale terms, the property would revert to the council.
I would envisage that the council could release the state funding already in place so long as they are persuaded that this is expended in accordance with the original terms under which it was provided. The Innishannon community has had a fantastic record in recent years for generously funding many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of euro to pay for the renovation and improvement of its Catholic and Church of Ireland churches, along with the additional church at Knockavilla.
At this time it would be no easy task to ask the community to contribute further but by comparison with the funding which has taken place in recent years, the cost of conserving this treasure would be relatively modest. By transfering the property the state would be relieved of further expense in relation to its liability and the village would be challenged to raise the funding to restore and conserve the tower for the benefit of future generations.
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