The security costs attached to St Manchan’s Shrine returning to Boher Church are €2,000 closer to being met thanks to a generous contribution by Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society (OHAS).
It is understood a fund of €50,000 will be required to bring the shrine back to Boher. The precious shrine was stolen from the church on June 1, 2012. It was recovered the next day, but will not be returned to Boher until a more sophisticated security system is put in place to protect it.
The process to put those measures in place has been started, and a collection to fund it was began last November. Speaking to the Offaly Independent Boher priest Fr James McKiernan said approximately €300 is added to that fund each week, and so the lump sum from OHAS is “unbelievable”.
Boher parishioners had to contribute to work carried out on the church just three years ago, and again now for their beloved shrine’s security measures. Bringing the fund up to the required amount - thought to be in the region of €50,000 - will take some time therefore, and so all donations are being accepted with open arms.
“Any little contribution we can get form any source is very much appreciated,” Fr McKiernan said, adding that all contributors will be acknowledged.
“We’re only playing with round figures at the moment,” he added, admitting that until architects come back with specific costings it’s unknown how much the new security system will cost or indeed when the shrine will return. “It’s hard to put a figure on it. It’s not like going in and buying a new car. It’s a very specific project and unfortunately it seems materials for it work out quite expensive.”
Speaking about the OHAS donation Michael Byrne said the organisation he’s involved with feels it’s very important to keep St Manchan’s Shrine in Offaly. “It represents an awful lot of history,” he said. “We wanted to make sure it was retained in the area. Really we saw it as a mark of civility and respect for our heritage. The alternative was it’d go to the National Museum, where it would be well looked after but would lose its association with its place.
“We have offered €2,000 from our own savings to try help and show our interest,” he said, adding that in his opinion the fund should be supported across the country and by bodies including Offaly County Council and tourism agencies.
Anyone interested in adding to the fund should contact Fr McKiernan at Boher church or lodge an amount to the Boher Renovation Fund at Bank of Ireland in Moate.