By Kieran O’Mahony
PLANS are in place by a local committee in Timoleague to preserve and maintain the historical Abbeymahon Abbey, which was built by the Cistercian monks in 1272.
A small working group was established last November at the invitation of Msgr Finbarr O’Leary to see how best to preserve and maintain this ancient Christian site for future generations.
The working group members include Fr Patrick Hickey, Edmund Byrnes, Helen Crowley, Joan Hodnett, Rex Lovell, Robert Travers, Michael Madden, Donal O’Mahony and Donal Whooley.
The group examined the historical background surrounding the arrival of the Cistercian monks from Baltinglass to Aghaminister in 1172 and the later transfer to Abbeymahon Abbey (De Fonte Vivo) in 1278. They also examined the social impact and economic contribution to local agricultural development
Earlier this month local representatives were invited to an on-site visit at Abbeymahon Abbey where they were given a summary of the progress that the committee has made to date.
Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony and local councillors Paul Hayes and John O’Sullivan met with members of the committee who showed them around the ancient Christian site.
‘Abbeymahon Abbey is an archaeological monument and a protected structure with significant historical importance worthy of preservations and conservation. The current position is that Cork County Council has overall responsibility for the general maintenance of the site and graveyard,’ said Edmund Byrnes.
‘The committee is acutely aware that as a general rule, a minimum intervention approach is necessary for the long term preservation and conservation of archaeological heritage sites which are sensitive even to the best intentioned interference.’
To progress the matter, it will be necessary for the group to have an archaeological or engineering assessment prepared. ‘These reports are critical and a pre-requisite to any application under the National Monuments Act requiring Ministerial consent,’ he said.