Famine and Restoration
The first effort at restoration of the Abbey church was made in 1846. It was then the intention to re-roof the nave as well as the transepts. The disastrous famine came in 1847 and the population of Ireland fell by millions and all work on the Abbey had to cease. Forty years later another generation resumed the task of restoration. Help and assistance came from many quarters, from people who had no connection whatsoever with the parish. Restoration of an Irish Abbey, then seven centuries old in which the praises of God had never ceased, even during the Penal days, captured the imagination of the public and tugged at the heartstrings of exiles all over the world, proud of their Irish heritage.
We can still read letters from those of Irish blood in America, Australia and far-away New Zealand who had read of the work of restoration and hastened to help.
In 1966, under the direction of Fr Tom Egan the nave of the Abbey was restored and roofed in time for the 750th anniversary of its foundation.
In 1997 The Chapter House and Dorter area was restored and roofed and it is this area in particular that now caters for the thousands of young people who come each year for retreats and Faith Formation Programmes. It is planned to restore the entire east wing of the Abbey during the 800th year celebration in 2016.