The Bolton Library, Cashel and Limerick

 

Sir, – I read with great interest the inspiring feature by Kathryn Hayes on the Bolton Library and the transfer of its collections to the University of Limerick (“Rescuing ofCashel’s magical but moulderinglibrary”, Arts and Ideas, February 16th).

In the early 1990s, as chairman of the University of Limerick (UL) library development committee and as a bibliophile, I was aware of the perilous state of the Bolton and of the heroic efforts being made by the then Dean of Cashel, Rev David Woodworth, to give it a future. In 1994, I approached Rev Woodworth to see if UL could be of assistance.

This led, with the blessing of UL’s president and librarian, to a fledgling commitment by UL to assist in any way possible.

Unfortunately, Dean Woodworth’s sudden death and the uncertainty about Bolton affairs that ensued paused any concrete development.

Shortly afterwards, Bishop Willoughby contacted the University of Limerick, and with a new Dean of Cashel, Dr Philip Knowles, appointed in 1995, the partnership with UL was reinstated with a new board of management, of which I remained chairman for the next 13 years, and continue to this day as a board member.

Dean Knowles did Trojan work during these years, up to his recent retirement, with the board of management; every effort was made to give the Bolton Library a continued home in Cashel.

The efforts continued with Right Rev Michael Burrows, Bishop of Ossory and Cashel, as chairman of the board of management.

I hope to publish in the near future the story of these years, detailing the heartbreaks, and the short-lived successes, up to the inevitability of having to move the collections to ensure their survival.

The University of Limerick has played an honoured role in these developments, supporting every initiative to keep the Bolton Library in Cashel, and now agreeing to fund the enormous cost of conserving one of Ireland’s great treasures, if not in its home place but at least in its province. – Yours, etc,

GEORGE CUNNINGHAM

Roscrea,

Co Tipperary.