independent

Thursday 22 August 2019

Gardaí treat Tintern blaze as 'suspicious'

VISITORS' RECEPTION AREA AND TEA ROOM GUTTED

ELAINE FURLONG

EFFORTS ARE continuing today (Tuesday) as to how best to proceed with works to 19th century buildings at Tintern Abbey that were destroyed in a blaze last Friday.

THE OPW Visitor Reception area and the Tintern Abbey Tea Room were completely gutted in the blaze, which is being treated by Gardaí as suspicious.

Upon discovery of the fire on Friday morning, officials from the Office of Public Works National Monuments were on site.

The scene was forensically examined by Gardaí Friday morning and the OPW organised for an initial investigation with an engineer on Saturday morning to make sure the site was deemed safe.

A full technical team is due to examine the site this ( Tuesday) morning and upon inspection, a full report will be issued to the OPW and a decision will be made as to how best to proceed with works to the buildings that were destroyed.

The buildings that were destroyed by fire were part of the 19th century outbuildings that overlay the footprint of the medieval abbey.

These were restored as visitor reception, staff facilities and tea- room/cafe in 1994 and incorporated some of the original stable divisions in the reception area. Tintern Abbey is a popular site with approximately 10,000 per year. According to a spokesperson for the OPW, in line with the experience at other OPW sites this year, visitor numbers are strong and appear to be up on last year.

Founded c. 1200 by William, the Earl Marshall, and named after Tintern in Wales, Tintern Abbey is a Cistercian Abbey.

The remains consist of nave, chancel, tower, chapel and cloister.

It was partly converted into living quarters after 1541, and further adapted over the centuries. The Abbey was occupied by the Colclough family from the 16th century until 1960s.

' The Abbey is very popular among local people and is a big attraction for tourists,' said a spokesperson.

According to David Neville, Chairman of Hook Rural Tourism, the main focus now is to get the visitor centre and tea rooms back up and running again.

'We in Hook Tourism are all shocked with what has happened and very disheartened,' said Mr. Neville, who said he was particularly saddened for Christine Buckley from Waterford, who runs the tea rooms.

'She is the only one who is out of pocket as she leases the tea rooms from the OPW,' said David.

Following last Friday's blaze Tintern Abbey is now back open to the public and a full guide service is available and has been since last Saturday, however the visitor centre and the tea rooms are not accessible.

No fee is being charged upon entrance to Tintern Abbey.

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