Rising from the ashes of Notre Dame


Sir , – The outpouring of emotion at the devastating fire in Notre Dame demonstrates the wonderful richness of our shared humanity.

It allows us to define ourselves as more than economically driven beings.

It shows how we need to pay attention to those things that enrich the heart and soul of our deepest selves. Symbols allow us to transcend the ordinary and allow us reflect on the reality of life and death. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 5.

Sir, – French President Emmanuel Macron is looking for money to bring Notre Dame back to its former glory. I might be able to help him.

I suggest that all the rubble and bits of timber be cut up into minute bits, put into plastic bags and sold off to souvenir hunters. He could charge exorbitant prices for the little packages and the public would gladly pay.

When Nelson’s Pillar was blown up in 1966 the souvenir hunters were queuing up to take away bits of the stonework. Even when the rubble was moved to the dump they followed it down and, like locusts, removed anything they could comfortably lift.

People like to have their memories.

Many a Dub today probably has a lump of the pillar on his sideboard.

When the great composer Leonard Bernstein died they came in their hundreds to remove soil from his grave. The cemetery caretaker was very frustrated because he had to keep replacing the soil, so my guide told me. Maybe they have spread concrete over it since I was there.

I hope I have been of help to Mr Macron. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – If only the solidarity exhibited for the destroyed church building could be expressed for humanity. Vive la France. Vive la difference. Let “live and let live” be the sign of our time on Earth. – Yours, etc,



A chara, – No doubt Pope Francis will be considering plenary indulgences for the billionaire families who pledged €500 million to restore Notre Dame, but since the gifts will be tax-deductible, don’t French taxpayers deserve 90 per cent of the remission? – Is mise,


Dublin 6.

Sir, – As always we can depend on Martyn Turner to retain perspective on our behalf as he does brilliantly and appropriately in his “Prophets before People” pictorial comment following the sad demise of Notre Dame cathedral.

No problem with €300 million for a building – any spare change for Yemen etc? – Yours, etc,


Finglas, Dublin 11.

Sir, – While we were all very upset by the sight of Notre Dame burning, Martyn Turner’s cartoon (April 17th) really hit home. The same thought struck me yesterday when I heard the staggering amounts of money being pledged to rebuild the cathedral. It really does make you wonder about the kind of society we live in. – Yours, etc,


Raheny, Dublin 5.

Sir, – With speculative estimates of the cost of rebuilding Notre Dame being in the billions of euros and President Macron setting a deadline of five years, I think we should send the relevant French authorities and Mr Macron our PwC report on the national children’s hospital. – Yours, etc,


Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.

Sir, – George Herbert has a beautiful line in his poem Prayer (1) “Church bells beyond the stars heard”. This is the wish and prayer for Notre Dame cathedral and Paris. – Yours, etc,


Balbriggan, Co Dublin.

Sir, – In one sense it is indeed heartening to see the immediate French financial response to the destruction of the Notre Dame cathedral.

No-one could argue with the iconic stature of this magnificent building and its importance for the French. However, there are millions who live in poverty in former French colonies throughout the world who would have been more than grateful for as swift a response to their humanitarian plight.

It seems that almost a billion euro overnight has been pledged to the reconstruction of Notre Dame.

What a difference this would make in South Sudan or in the Republic of Congo. Nobody died, thankfully, on Monday in Paris. Unfortunately this cannot be said of Sudan or the Congo. – Yours, etc,


Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Sir, – With the burning down of Notre Dame, the world has lost one of its most beautiful architectural jewels.

Countless French monarchs were crowned there; and it witnessed the French revolution, the Napoleonic era, the Paris commune, two world wars and terrorist attacks. And while the outpouring of shock and grief is natural at the destruction of such an ancient landmark, one cannot help but wish the same amount of shock and outrage were directed towards the destruction of our most beautiful landmark – the natural world.

It astounds me that many people still do not understand the urgency with which we need to up the ante and make real changes to ensure the natural world is still there for future generations.

Man has proven the most destructive species on this planet. We have carved up the Earth like our own personal playground with little or no thought to how we have significantly disrupted the fine balance of mother nature. We have manipulated species to serve our labour and our pleasure; and we have ruthlessly hunted many to the brink of extinction.

While the loss of a piece of history is tragic, we can rebuild.

Sadly, if we refuse to mourn the loss of our natural treasures, there will be no rebuilding. Our manipulation and rapacity shall prove irreversible – it is nature that more urgently requires your cri de coeur. – Yours, etc,


Cabra West,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – Watching the terrible scenes from Paris on Monday night, tears rolled down my cheeks, as I recalled family holidays in France. My late wife, Bridget was an avowed Francophile, and some of those holidays had a real cultural style about them – she being an avid historian and educator.

In particular, I recall attending Mass in Notre Dame a number of times. Whether on a Sunday or a weekday, it was always an occasion to remember. The priest celebrating would always finish up with these words, spoken in beautiful French: “Notre Dame de Paris, priez pour nous”.

May we all show solidarity with the people of France in the face of this tragedy, and if and when the call comes subscribe to the restoration of this iconic edifice – whatever the cost, and however long it takes. As Gaudi, architect of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is reputed to have said: “My client is not in a hurry.” – Yours, etc,


Rathfarnham, Dublin 14.

Sir, – In the aftermath of the Notre Dame fire, so many donors, from states to individuals are most welcome. It is an iconic building. It will rise from the ashes in time.

Yet, it is but a building. Donors understand that humanitarian aid is of greater value. It would be in the spirit of Notre Dame and its Christian history, if they were also aware of humanitarian aid to Yemen, cyclones in Africa and other worldwide desperate needs.

By all means, give to Notre Dame, but in your giving, remember your brothers and sisters on the planet who are in dire need of help to survive. – Yours, etc,




Co Wexford.