Deputy Lowry paid tribute to Holycross Community Group for their commitment and outstanding work in bringing the plan to life and he has promised to build on the work of the group by highlighting the merits of the project at Government Level and seek sanction of the necessary funding.
Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, Patrick O Donovan TD, has already visited the site following an invitation by Deputy Lowry and was immediately impressed with the vision presented and gave his support to the project.
Holycross Community Group was established to develop and progress proposals to provide a Visitor Centre within the village to enhance and develop the tourism potential of Holycross Abbey. Public and community consultation identified the need to develop a tourism amenity that will tell the story of the Abbey, while also retaining visitors in the area through collaboration on immersive rural experiences.
The group sought the support of relevant of local and national stakeholders to develop their initial proposal. Support for the project was forthcoming from the outset, including mentoring support being provided to Holycross Community Group from Fáilte Ireland to further refine the project proposal. OPW officials have worked closely with the Holycross Community Group and a number of Senior Officials have attended meetings on site and have committed their support to the project
Deputy Lowry stated the proposed ‘Mainistir – Rural Immersion Centre’ (MRIC) will be developed in the Padre Pio Prayer Garden adjacent to Holycross Abbey. The MRIC is to be developed around four key components, namely The Holycross Abbey Experience – Interpreting the story of Holycross Abbey and the monks, The Rural Experiences Orientation Hub – a focal point for rural tourism and outdoor experiences, The Rural Producers Showcase – A focal point and retail experience for quality rural artisan food and craft produce and The Rural Knowledge Event Space – A space for rural knowledge sharing and collaboration
Deputy Lowry welcomed the fact that each component of the MRIC builds on the rural story. “It will interpret the rationale as to why the monks first selected this rural location and how they sustained the rural community. The application of this story to contemporary rural life will provide the basis for sustained innovation for the site and an opportunity to introduce visitors to the wider area that influenced the monks in selecting this region to establish one of Europe’s most iconic Abbeys.
The project aims to enhance Holycross as a visitor destination based on its links and relationships with other sites in the county and across Irelands Ancient East.”