Famine and Restoration: A Tale of Resilience


Famine and Restoration: A Tale of Resilience

The journey to restore the Abbey church embarked upon in 1846 was a testament to unwavering dedication. The initial goal was ambitious—to re-roof both the nave and the transepts. However, the harsh reality of the devastating famine of 1847 cast a dark shadow, causing the population of Ireland to plummet by millions and halting all progress on the Abbey.

Forty years later, a new generation took up the mantle of restoration. Help and support poured in from numerous individuals within the parish, demonstrating the communal spirit that rallied behind the cause. This restoration project was no ordinary undertaking; it aimed to breathe new life into an Irish Abbey, steeped in history for seven centuries. Even during the darkest days of the Penal era, the Abbey remained a beacon of devotion, with the praises of God resounding within its walls.

The story of this restoration captured the imagination of the public and touched the hearts of exiles worldwide, all deeply proud of their Irish heritage. Letters arrived from individuals of Irish descent residing in the far corners of America, Australia, and distant New Zealand, all inspired by the ongoing work of restoration and eager to contribute.

In 1966, under the dedicated leadership of Fr. Tom Egan, the Abbey’s nave was finally restored and adorned with a new roof, just in time for the momentous 750th anniversary of its foundation.

Then, in 1997, the Chapter House and Dorter area underwent meticulous restoration and received new roofing. This particular section of the Abbey has since become a cherished space, welcoming thousands of young people each year for retreats and Faith Formation Programs. As we look ahead, our vision extends to the complete restoration of the entire east wing of the Abbey during the grand celebration of its 800th year in 2016.

These endeavors, sparked by the restoration of an ancient Irish treasure, stand as a testament to the enduring spirit and unity of a global community, with contributions coming from people with no prior connection to the Abbey.