Within the context of the County reorganisation, the decision to remove books from the Bolton Library is a major downgrading of the heritage potential of Cashel, says Chamber President Sean Laffey.
“We have seen the plans for the new amalgamated county and to put them in a nutshell it runs something like this, Clonmel and Nenagh will be the industrial hubs, with the smaller towns being tourism hot spots. Cashel as the central location in the county and having the Rock on its doorstep will be the jewel in the heritage crown. However, we’ve seen for many years that the Rock in itself is not a major tourism driver into the town’s economy, attracting only around 20% of the visitors that the Rock boasts. To build on the town’s heritage potential we need to have authentic town centre attractions.
“For many years one of those key attractions has been the Bolton Library, situated at the Church of Ireland Cathedral. This unique collection of antiquarian books is in situ, in the town where it was first assembled, and left to the town by its collector, Bishop Bolton. It is housed in a bona fide historic building. Historian Barry O’Reilly summed up the value of the The Bolton Library when he wrote: ‘this is a small but perfectly formed gem, to be cherished for its architecture and, more particularly, for its rarity as an early and extraordinary diocesan library.’ The decision to remove the stock, which we can see, has merits in terms of conservation of the fabric of the collection, leaves a gaping hole in the town’s authentic and unique heritage. We would like to see a number of items retained in Cashel and the Library remain open to the public and scholars. This should be a key driver of Town Centre tourism and one on which we have over the years invested in via a number of tourism brochures, town map, leaflets and the town web site,” added Mr Laffey.
Modern tourists are information savvy and the Bolton library with its unique collection of books would be a wonderful asset to any town . It focuses on the intelligent informed tourist.
“We need to rethink and celebrate the legacy of Bishop Bolton . The Bolton Library would be an ideal location to focus on the life, times and good works of Theophilus Bolton . You may recall some time ago that Dr. Martin Mansergh, when he was Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works and the Arts, said ‘a new visitor facility would be established at the Chapter House, which will form part of the Rock of Cashel complex’ which he described as “’Ireland’s Mediaeval Acropolis’. He hoped the extra visitor centre would add significantly to the capacity of Cashel to absorb increased numbers of visitors, and act as a signpost to the other attractions within the town.
As the Rock of Cashel attracts around a quarter of a million visitors per year to the town, and those visitors pay to see the famous ruins, we are right to ask how much of that OPW revenue is spent on The Bolton Library?
“To be candid we know that Cashel town under performs on its heritage potential, partly due to a lack of a coherent marketing strategy for tourism providers and partly due to very poor information signage. The OPW should use some of the revenue from the Rock to improve heritage signage around the town. For example there is no interpretive signage on Dominic’s Abbey, the only sign on the building is a warning not to damage the property. Surely, that message should also extend to the wonderful collection in the Bolton library?” asked Mr Laffey
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