“There are no plans”: A Public Meeting in Cobh (June 1998)
A public meeting was called for the 28th of June 1998 in the Commodore Hotel, Cobh. The town’s people were under the impression that the meeting was to reflect on progress to date of the restoration plan and that information and consultation would take place on the next stage. Mr Tom Cavanagh of Fermoy was chairman. Also in attendance were Bishop Magee, the cathedral chapter, the trustees, the full steering committee, clergy and relgious and a few hundred people from the parish.
A number of speakers, from the top table, outlined the work that had been done [on the first phases of the restoration] and complimented all those who played a part — and deservedly so.
As no mention of re-ordering [renovation] was made, I asked the chairman if each parishioner could receive a copy of the plans submitted to the Heritage Council. Canon Reidy stood up and asked me to withdraw my remarks and said,
“There are no plans”. Bishop Magee stood up, put his hand on his heart, and said, “There are no plans”. People got very angry and a number of people asked Bishop Magee about plans for the rails, the tabernacle, the pulpit and many other issues. They were not happy with the response and wanted guarantees. The bishop agreed to retain the tabernacle in its present position. At this stage the meeting was totally out of order and in an effort to deflate the situation Bishop Magee said he would set up a committee [see On Consulting the Laity] including a number of parishioners to help him come to a decision, and before he would make a decision he would come back to another public meeting in four months.
Bishop Magee gave that solemn promise almost eight years ago in front of the trustees, the cathedral chapter, the steering committee and a few hundred parishioners. We are still waiting for him to honour his promise.
12 months later Mr Cavanagh commented that it was one of the most traumatic experiences of his life.
— Sean O’Connor, Councillor with Cobh Town Council, Observer submission to the Oral Hearing of An Bord Pleanala regarding St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh Co. Cork
See also On Consulting the Laity.