Proposed work on the

Unitarian Church
Princes Street Cork.

April’s edition of “Oscailt” contained an article by Dr. Martin Pulbrook concerning the Trust deed for the Cork Church. The issue of the Trust Deed has come to the fore because of a proposed agreement between the Cork Church and Cork City Council. In keeping with our ethos of openness I would like to explain something of the background to what may happen in the near future. People who have attended the AGM of the Cork Congregation in recent years will be familiar with the proposal, it may be less familiar with readers outside of Cork.
          In 2017 the Cork Church will celebrate its tri-centenary. The Church is unique in that it was built as a Unitarian Church and continues to be used for its original purpose. It is an important part of the history of Cork City. The church is much loved by our community but it is in need of a great deal of remedial work. The work that needs doing is not just for the comfort of those attending Sunday worship it is needed for the preservation of the building.
          Since 1717 the oak beams that support the roof have moved by two feet. About ten years ago the Cork congregation spent a considerable amount of money to stabilise the roof. The work was undertaken by Southgate engineers this slowed down the movement of the roof beams. The movement of the beams has resulted in bulging on both side walls. Architects estimate that, if left untended, within twenty years the roof will collapse. In addition to roof problems there is no heating in the building and the addition of a false ceiling and side walls have detracted a great deal from the beautiful simplicity of the original building.
          The cost to restore the Cork Church to its original state is about €4 million. It is outside the remit of the Council to give that money to the Church to restore the building. Some benefit must accrue to the citizens of Cork for spending this public money. We are looking for ways for the Church and the Council to work together to ensure the preservation of our Church as our place of worship. In exchange the Council would use some of the Church space for exhibitions, concerts, lectures etc.
          The Church’s location is attractive for the City Council, it backs onto the English Market. It is proposed to connect the Church with the English Market. The upstairs of the Church will be used as an exhibition space. Downstairs the Church will have a dedicated worship space and the other spaces will be shared with the Council. To date the details of how exactly this will work have not been agreed. At the AGM the Council representative said that the Church should submit exactly what we need from the agreement and we negotiate from there.

Please note

The Church will not be an extension of the English Market. There will be no buying and selling of goods in the Church.
          The Church will not be a shortcut or walk through from the market. The Church will be closed off from the Market during our services. At the present the English Market is closed all day Sunday. This should be part of the agreement with the Council.
          In an ideal world the Cork Congregation would have funds to restore the church; we do not live in an ideal world. In order to pay the electricity bill the Cork Church rents the Church for craft fairs, cd fairs, bicycle fairs and a dance group. We have the choice to continue as we are for the next two decades until the building is declared unsafe. Alternatively we can decide with Cork City Council to preserve the Church and ensure that it remains a Unitarian place of worship for generations into the future.
          If anyone would like more information about the proposal the secretary of Cork Fritz Spengeman is more than happy to give information. Fritz can be contacted at 087 810 1943 or email

Rev.Bridget Spain
Minister Dublin Unitarian Church.
Minister in Charge Unitarian Church , Princes Street, Cork.