The Dean of Raphoe has revealed plans for a major renovation of St Eunan’s Cathedral in Raphoe which will cost an estimated €650,000.
The plans for ‘Renovation Project 2020’ were unveiled bythe Very Rev Arthur Barrett in the Cathedral Hall in Raphoe on Friday evening at an event at which a new, specially commissioned short film about the cathedral was premiered (see below) and a fund-raising campaign was launched to help pay for the improvements. It includes a ‘Buy-a-Slate’ Appeal and a proposal to draw up a list of 100 benefactors willing to donate at least €2,000 each over the next two years.
It’s proposed that the restoration work will begin just after Easter in 2020 and be completed by the end of October. Dean Barrett says an extensive programme of works is required and the cathedral will have to close for seven months, with services switching to the nearby Cathedral Hall.
Launching ‘Renovation Project 2020’, Dean Barrett said the Cathedral Church of St Eunan in Raphoe was the mother church of the Church of Ireland Diocese of Raphoe. It was an extremely important regional and national site of enormous spiritual, ecclesiastical and cultural significance. “Christian faith has flourished in Raphoe for over 1,400 years,” he said, “and the cathedral church of St Eunan has been there for 800 of those years.” The Dean said they were privileged to worship in and maintain a Christian witness on this ancient site of Celtic spirituality.
“It is our responsibility” the Dean said, “to ensure the restoration and preservation of this magnificent – if modest – cathedral church; but we can only do it with the help of many others, near and far.
“As part of our fund-raising plan we hope to spread the story of St Eunan, his cathedral and the church far and wide. We want people across the world – literally – to hear about the cathedral city of Raphoe, about St Eunan, about our cathedral church and our renovation plans, and hopefully be sufficiently interested to make a donation.”
Architect Karl Pedersen gave a breakdown of the programme of works that will be carried out during the seven months when the church is closed in 2020. All roof slates will be replaced, roof timbers will be renewed or treated, roof battens replaced, rainwater goods to the outside of the cathedral and to the tower will be renewed, a new vestry (Chapter Room) extension will be built, new lighting will be installed and defective stonework will be repaired. The cathedral’s interior will also be redecorated.
The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good, said, “There’s a sense of history and of legacy here that is seriously worth preserving.” He commended the Dean’s leadership and the Select Vestry’s courage for the way in which they were pressing ahead with the project. "This project is an architectural challenge, it is a conservation challenge, it is a financial challenge, it is a project management challenge. But do you know what I think it is above all? It is a spiritual challenge.”
Bishop Good told those present that on their own they couldn’t do this. “On our own we are not up to it – we don’t have the resources – and therefore we have to rely on the power of prayer and the power of God to lead and guide, and to call and to motivate and to inspire.”
Dean Barrett agreed with the Bishop. “We are stepping out in faith,” he said, “that God will touch generous hearts and hands, so that – together – we can ensure the survival of this ancient cathedral church, and that He may continue to be worshipped and glorified, now and for ever.”