Seanad Éireann - Volume 110 - 19 December, 1985

Chester Beatty Library Bill, 1985: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Mrs. Bulbulia: In welcoming this Bill on the last day we discussed it, I felt that it was opportune to examine something of the life and the collecting habits of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty because the Library is a monument to the life of this man. The Library and the man are inextricably linked. I had got to the twenties when I was discussing it the last time. Around that time the art collection of Chester Beatty expanded at a phenomenal rate. Selection Trust likewise surged forward to become a group of companies with mining interests in many countries including Russia, Serbia, Cold Coast and Sierra Leone. The greatest revenue was generated in Africa and specifically in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, where Rhodesian Selection Trust controlled the huge copper belt.

Beatty helped to pioneer new methods of extracting copper from low grade ore. His business acumen was based on flair, courage, expertise and an ability to delegate responsibility. He dared to explore and exploit the copper reserves of Africa when many fortunes had been lost in previous ventures and the geography and climate were generally considered impossible for successful mining. However, [1167] using the new mining techniques and concentrating on housing and health care for his staff, Beatty was amply rewarded for his enterprise, becoming one of the wealthiest men in Great Britain. His profession acknowledged his achievement with many honours, including the gold medal of the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy in 1935. Interestingly enough, Beatty was very modest about his success, but he was justifiably enthusiastic and proud of his art collections,. He was adamant and stated over and over that he was not a scholar but 50 years of careful study and the vetting of high quality art material allowed him to become very knowledgeable. Like many other collectors he was proud of his eye for quality and wrote:

It is no good keeping things that are not first class, they simply keep the collection down.

That indicates that he was only interested in the very best. It is that very best which is on display to all of us in the Chester Beatty Library. It is very nice to hear that kind of standard quite unashamedly gone after and indeed stated.

This kind of attitude is reflected in the Chester Beatty Library and is its hallmark today. Its founder understood quality to mean, first and foremost, good condition and then other factors were considered; rarity, value, age, aesthetic or artistic merit. Each item had to be in excellent condition and often he would reject material on the grounds that it was unhealthy or grubby. He had his own system of notetaking while visiting a dealer's shop. For example, if he did not wish to buy an item, he would write DCFI meaning “Don't care for it” or NFFC meaning “Not fit for collection”. He categorised everything he bought as A, B or C. He rarely bought ‘C’ material and if he did he would sell it again immediately. Only exceptionally would he allow ‘B’ material to remain in the collection. The ‘A’s were graded as ‘A+’, ‘A’ and ‘A-’. Beatty was a most discriminating buyer and rarely bought at random or in bulk. [1168] He spoke none of the many oriental languages which are represented in his collection and this encouraged the purchase of illustrated material, fine bindings, and an administration for beautiful calligraphy. It has been said that the Chester Beatty Library is a trinity; a library, a museum and a gallery, all in one.

During the Second World War, 1939 to 1945, Beatty's mining expertise was of great benefit to the Allied war effort. He served as vice-chairman of the United Kingdom Commercial Corporation Limited established by the British Government to further war-time trade. He was also a member of two government committees established by the Ministry of Supply, the Non Ferrous Metals Controls Board and the Diamond Dies Control Board. He had become a naturalised British citizen in 1933 and retained a British passport until his death in 1968. He first attracted public attention as a patron of the arts in Great Britain when in 1931 he gave material on loan to the International Exhibition of Persian Art held at Burlington House, London, and especially in November of that year when it was announced in The Times that he had acquired some biblical papyri which in the words of Sir Frederic Kenyon, retired director of the British Museum constituted, and I quote:

...the most remarkable addition to the textual material of the Greek Bible which has been made for many a long day...

Beatty's charitable activities were numerous and he showed special concern for the cause of cancer research, founding and financing the Chester Beatty Research Institute of the Royal Cancer Hospital, London.

Interestingly enough, when researching material for this debate — and, indeed, I am grateful to the Chester Beatty Library personnel who were extremely helpful in that regard — I got a photocopy of an extract from The Sunday Express of 6 November, 1949. This newspaper article notified Beatty's friends in Great Britain of his intention to leave that country and to move to the Republic [1169] of Ireland which, of course, caused something of a stir, as one can imagine because the British would have preferred it if he had bequeathed his treasures to them. This move was one which gave rise to great surprise and excitement in the art world. The newspaper extract is headed “ 'Copper King' ships out £1 million Treasures”. It says:

Art treasures and manuscripts said to be worth more than £1,000,000——

——and this was in 1949——

——are being shipped to Éire from the London home of 74 year old Mr. Chester Beatty, the copper millionaire.

They are being sent from Beroda House, in Kensington Palace Gardens to his new home, a 12-room £12,000 house in Ailesbury Road, Dublin.

Mr. Beatty is believed to be in France.

Friends and business associates in London cannot explain the move of this American-born magnate, who, when he became a naturalised Briton in 1933, said: “I love England, and have taken root here”.

He retired at the age of 35. But at 40 he made another fortune.

Most of his collection, including ancient manuscripts, Islamic pictures, and Indian and Persian miniatures, has been going over to Dublin during the past month.

Mr. Beatty's mining activities in Rhodesia are said to have added £500 million of potential wealth to the Empire, and saved Britain 50,000,000 dollars a year.

He has criticised Government policies of bulk buying and high taxation recently.

At a meeting of the stockholders of his Selection Trust he said that London was no longer the mining centre of the world. The position would deteriorate, he said, while high taxation, unjust duties, and rigid controls stopped new mining projects being launched.

Mr. Beatty has earned distinction as a collector of ancient manuscripts. His [1170] collection includes Egyptian papyri 100 years older than the Codex, which have thrown new light on the Bible.

So one can see that it certainly caused a stir at the time of his removal of his objects to Dublin.

In 1945, of course, there was a general election in Great Britain and it clearly demonstrated the changes which the war had wrought because Churchill's Government was rejected in favour of the first majority Labour Party Government in British history. Beatty considered Churchill to be a versatile man. He described him as “the greatest of our time, with the courage of a lion”. He also said that, but for Churchill, Britain would have been crushed. But, of course, for someone of Beatty's wealth and background the new Labour Government was, in contrast, utterly distasteful and Beatty claimed that the Labour Party had institutionalised bureaucracy and he criticised regimentation and rules and high taxes and red tape.

During the war he had been unable to take his annual vacation in Egypt and in 1946 he was distressed to find difficulty in acquiring currency to go abroad. He found that a philosophy alien to him was taking over the country he had come to consider as his own. This became particularly apparent when he began to have difficult relations with the British Museum. He considered the British Museum to be the greatest museum in the world and always aimed to rival her collection of each class of material which interested him. Beatty decided in 1950 at the age of 75 the time had come to retire as chairman of Selection Trust, a position which he handed over to his son, Alfred Chester, junior. That certainly gives some idea of the thinking of the man and the reasons why he should decide to relocate. Without commenting on his ideas of a Labour Government in Britain, I must say that we all here have cause indeed to be extremely grateful that that was his thinking at the time.

Beatty had visited Dublin in 1930 and he enjoyed the antique shops and the atmosphere of the city — and, of course, [1171] one is tempted in an aside to recognise the fact that, while the antique shops are still in Dublin and indeed flourishing, the atmosphere of the city has changed a great deal from what it was in the time of Chester Beatty. He was extremely pleased when his son bought a country estate in 1948 called Mount Armstrong at Donadea, County Kildare. Indeed, Sir Alfred visited him there on a number of occasions. So he decided that he would settle in Ireland and in May 1950 he moved to Dublin where he had bought this house that I spoke of in Ailesbury Road. He wished for peaceful surroundings and he declared that “Ireland is the best country in which to retire. The country has atmosphere. The people have so much charm — life goes on as it did elsewhere until 1939”. He proposed at that stage to establish a permanent library to house his collections. He made preparations for the transportation to Dublin of 35 tons of art works.

At first he thought of buying a building in the centre of Dublin, but he was discouraged by the danger of fire in Georgian terraced buildings. So he then took a decision to build a library and he purchased a site at 20 Shrewsbury Road which was very near his residence in Ailesbury Road. On 8 August 1953 the Chester Beatty Library was opened at a private garden party in the grounds. The following year the Library was opened to the public each Wednesday and Beatty often came himself to meet the visitors. He was simply delighted with the Library and he spoke fondly of what he called the “little island site, beautifully protected and away from all noise and dirt”. An extension was opened on 24 August 1957 at a ceremony attended by many distinguished guests including the President of the Republic of Ireland, Mr. Seán T. O'Kelly and the then Taoiseach, Mr. Éamon de Valera.

Beatty spent only about four months of each year in Dublin, from May to September, spending the rest of his time in the south of France at Nice and later in Monaco. Despite retirement, the 1950s were a busy period for the Library as [1172] Beatty bought Japanese woodblock prints, Batak bark books from Sumatra, books about Jesuit missions to the Orient, and added to his other collections. He gradually formulated the method by which he hoped to guarantee the future of the Library after his death. He was very friendly with President O'Kelly and they often met at Saturday afternoon picnics in County Wicklow where they each owned a house. He was also by now well acquainted with many leading Irish politicians and they appreciated his wish to bequeath his collections to the Irish nation.

In Dublin Chester Beatty was a remarkable world figure who had known people like Winston Churchill, Herbert Hoover and General Eisenhower. His conversation, as one can imagine, was fascinating, ranging from Wild West mining camps and Pinkerton detectives to how he acquired the biblical papyri and a magnificent Korans. The Irish media wrote of Beatty in feature articles with headlines like “Portrait of a Gentleman” and “Copper King with a Heart of Gold”. The words most often used to describe Beatty was “simple”, “uncomplicated”, “cultivated”, “generous”, “friendly” and “good humoured”. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that he was so well liked and so respected and indeed, that we should be talking about him here in 1985 in one of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

During the 1950s Beatty presented many gifts to the Irish nation, including paintings to the National Gallery of Ireland and oriental weapons and armour to the military museum at the Curragh Camp in County Kildare. He granted material from his collections on loan to exhibitions and supported many charitable organisations, particularly favouring the Wireless for the Blind Fund. Indeed, that appeal is still going strong — one hears Patricia McLoughlin's voice every so often making that appeal. Distinguished scholars came to study at the Chester Beatty Library and fine published catalogues helped to establish its importance.

Ireland was not slow to acknowledge Beatty's great generosity and many other [1173] countries also honoured him during his long life. He received four honorary doctorates from Columbia University, New York, in 1935; the University of Birmingham in 1939; Trinity College, Dublin, in 1951 and the National University of Ireland in 1951; the Grand Cordon of the Order of St. Sava in 1930 for work in developing Yugoslavia's mining resources; the Order of King Leopold II in 1932 for services in developing the Belgian Congo; a British Knighthood in 1954; Freeman of the City of Dublin in 1956 and first honorary Irish citizen in 1957.

Chester Beatty died at the Princess Grace Clinic, Monte Carlo, on 19 January 1968, three weeks before his 93rd birthday and exactly 11 years after he was awarded honorary Irish citizenship. He was given a State funeral to Glasnevin Cemetery and, indeed, his monument there, in contrast to the exotic collection he presented to the nation, is a very simple granite stone and very touching in its simplicity. There was a service following his death in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, and dignatories of Church and State attended, which evidenced his significance in the life of the State.

He left his library buildings and their wonderful contents to a board of trustees to be administered by them on behalf of the Irish people. Under the conditions of Beatty's will the Irish Government took over the administrative and maintenance costs of the Library, and the building constructed in 1956 was extended to house a modern gallery which was officially opened on 26 July 1975 by Mr. Cearbhaill Ó Dalaigh, then President of Ireland. I think Chester Beatty's greatest legacy is, of course, that of his Library. It was an extraordinary gift which has provided the Irish people and, indeed, foreign visitors to our shores, with an opportunity to become acquainted with Eastern cultures, languages, religions, customs and traditions. He opened the world to us at a time when it was closed and he allowed us to have a glimpse into the Orient which really was denied to most of us and, indeed, I suppose still is, but in those days it was particularly [1174] extraordinary and very much appreciated by people. In that way you could say he definitely made a very marked contribution to the broadening of attitudes and to the expansion of horizons which, as an island nation on the periphery of Europe, we so badly needed and, I am tempted to say, we still need.

The memory of Sir Chester Beatty and the success of his legacy will hopefully live and grow for a very long time to come and it is for all those reasons that I have pleasure in welcoming this Bill.

Mr. Fitzsimons: I welcome the Bill also, not with as much enthusiasm as if we had a more comprehensive Bill before us because I feel this important Library deserves better. This is stop-gap legislation. It is intended as such I realise and I welcome it as such.

A few weeks ago, in the questions section in The Irish Press, there was one question which asked what library in Dublin is famous for its oriental artefacts. I wondered at the time if many people knew the Chester Beatty Library. I felt that not enough did and perhaps I was wrong, perhaps more know about it than I realise. I came into contact with the Library in the late fifties in discussions with some of the preachers at the corner of Abbey Street, which was the nearest thing we had to the preacher's corner in Hyde Park. Many of those preachers were experts or claimed to experts in biblical studies. They referred to the Chester Beatty Library and the papyri that were in that Library.

Senator Bulbulia has given a very thorough and detailed account of Sir Chester Beatty and there is no point in going back on such a marvellous contribution. But briefly, Sir Chester Beatty was born in New York city in 1875 of English, Irish and Scottish ancestry, and he came to live permanently in Ireland in 1950. I believe he is one of the very few honorary Irish citizens.

It is topical that we should be discussing the Bill at this time because on Saturday, 7 December, there were reviews of two books on Sir Chester Beatty in The Irish Times. One of them was “The Life and [1175] Times of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty” by A.J. Wilson, Cadogan Publications Limited, price £12 in the United Kingdom, and the second one was “The Art of Surimono in the Chester Beatty Library” by Robert Keyes, Sotheby Publications, in two volumes, price £150 in the UK. Unlike the English papers, these reviews do not give the number of pages in each book. It is a pity. I will quote a short extract from that review:

Chester Beatty's life was so varied and lived on so many levels that ideally it would need a very widely knowledgeable biographer to describe it. In the event, the choice has fallen on a specialist in mining and while this was of course the primary base of Beatty's life, concentrating on this means that the other, more generally interesting, aspects go for less than they are worth.

Further on, it continued:

The image of a benign and benevolent seigneur leafing through an old book which is nowadays the most familiar is very far from that of the young man with a gun in his boot who went out into the mining fields, sleeping rough, riding or tramping long miles, creeping down insecure mine shafts, initiating and organising mines and then controlling them, sometimes with the help of hired gunmen.

That gives us another dimension to the picture which was given to us by Senator Bulbulia.

I want to pay my tribute also to the memory of Sir Chester Beatty for such a marvellous gift to the nation. I also understand that in the White Paper on Tourism the significance of the Chester Beatty Library is acknowledged under “Cultural Matters” on page 46 where it is stated:

Positive action has already been taken to centralise responsibility for the various cultural agencies which are financed by the State. Thus, the major cultural institutions and agencies, including the National Musuem, the National Gallery, Chester Beatty [1176] Library, National Concert Hall as well as the Arts Council are now under the responsibility of a Minister of State for Arts and Culture.

I think this is an acknowledgment of the importance of the Chester Beatty Library. It is also fitting that this Bill has been introduced in the Seanad. I recall other Bills of a like nature, the National Archives Bill, and others, and I am grateful this is introduced in the Seanad. It is a very short Bill.

I also pay tribute to Mr. Lockwood, curator and his staff of 12 who, as Senator Bulbulia said, are all very helpful. The Chester Beatty Library Act, 1968, was also a fairly short Act. It was simply to provide for the appointment of persons as trustees from time to time by the President. Unfortunately, before the death of Sir Chester Beatty most of the western collection of manuscripts was sold. It took three days to sell this marvellous collection in London. This was unfortunate and some people might perhaps feel that the reason it was sold was that it was not appreciated sufficiently. Perhaps there may have been financial reasons, but it is a pity that such a marvellous collection was reduced. The space in the Library is the big problem. I understand that at least twice and perhaps three times the present space there is needed. With all the valuable items that are there, it would take three times the space to do justice to everything that is in that collection. For example, there is an Arabic collection and many people interested in this area come to examine the different items, and find that the collection is not on display. This is a great pity.

An area of special interest is the Western Collection which is only a remnant of the major collection which it once was. The Library owns a major collection of biblical papyri contining some of the oldest known witnesses to the New Testament and to the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. There are also ancient Egyptian and Coptic papyri as well as Mesopotamian clay tablets. From the Islamic world, the Islamic material consists of manuscripts and [1177] miniature paintings from Persia, India, Turkey and the Arab world. The Turkish paintings are considered one of the best collections of Ottoman manuscript illustrations outside the libraries of Istanbul.

The Library has an important collection of Our'ans from all over the Islamic world and some 3,000 Arabic manuscripts covering the full range of secular and religious literature. From India and south-east Asia the Indian Moghul material, comprising manuscripts and album paintings, date from the great period of Moghul art, namely the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and includes some of the best known works of art in this field. From Japan, the Japanese print collection is one of the most comprehensive in the world and represents the entire story of the wood block print from the seventeenth century down to the early 20th century. From China, the Library has the world's largest collection of jade books and rhinocerous horn cups, as well as excellent examples of the Chinese snuff bottles made mostly of semi-precious stones. There are, in addition, painted scrolls, albums, seals, textiles, furniture and other items — a marvellous collection.

With all that material there should be space for permanent or semi-permanent collections. The space is just not there. That is one of the reasons why I say we should have a far more comprehensive Bill before us. I realise that at present finance is restricted but, even allowing for that, and having regard to the uniqueness of the collection, more should be done for it. Also, from time to time there are topical collections. At present there is the Angels collection on display because Christmas is so near. We also have the Chinese collection on display. The reason for this is the display in the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham of the horses and figures. They complement one another. There should be space for more of these collections.

There are three different buildings. Just to refer to them very briefly, there is the old building dating from 1953, consisting of three rooms and the offices of the librarian and secretary. Here non-oriental [1178] material is on display. In the garden Library there is a permanent display of biblical papyri and Sumarian and Arcadian clay tablets. In another room there are on display western manuscripts including the beautiful illustrated books of Hours and ornamental book bindings. There is also the Chinese room with its ornamental panelled ceiling, hanging lanterns and elegant Chinese furniture. All this is in the old Library building.

The new gallery, the building which dates from 1975, as Senator Bulbulia has said, consists of a lecture theatre and a gallery on the ground floor which displays items from the far-eastern collections. On the first floor there are exhibitions of material from the Islamic collections. This is a very big display area. These exhibitions with their helpful descriptive labels are changed regularly.

Thirdly, in the building known as the annex, there is a reference library and the curator's offices are also in this building. I believe that in buildings of this kind air conditioning is essential to control the temperature and to control the humidity. I also believe that a single building is essential. Unfortunately, the building completed in 1975 and 1976 was not designed as part of a large building. In other words, provision was not made for extensions. This was a terrible pity. Apparently it was designed as a one off building with no regard for future extension. This was a major blunder.

The two other buildings have what I would regard as very primitive heating systems. They have old electrical storage heaters. There is no ceiling insulation. There is no double glazing. There is no wall insulation and so there is no possibility of controlling the inside temperature, not to talk of the humidity. In addition, moving items between buildings is a great source of danger, security-wise, also with regard to the weather. Items which are so valuable and so fragile should not have had to be carried out into the open between buildings. At least some provision should be made for covered or enclosed connection between the various buildings.

Security is a serious problem and I [1179] suppose this is an aspect it might be as well not to develop too much. Obviously it is a major problem. I assume that under this Bill the Office of Public Works will take over responsibility for all the buildings.

Senator Bulbulia referred to the value of this Library. It is impossible to put a valuation on such a collection. How do you put a value on the Book of Kells, for example? How do you put a value on any of our ancient Irish manuscripts or artefacts, the Tara Brooch, or the Derrynaflan Chalice, any of those items which are priceless and irreplaceable? I believe that the value would be in excess of £50 million. That is an artificial value because in the normal way if something is destroyed it can be restored or it can be replaced. That is not possible in this situation.

Further acquisition will be necessary to complement the collection. A reference is most important in any library and how to keep adding to the reference collection in this Library will be a major problem. I understand that space-wise they are getting towards the limit. Overall, I believe this is a major national trasure. Personally, I believe it is relatively little known. This is terribly unfortunate. There are there, as Senator Bulbulia said, possibly the earliest known texts of some parts of the Bible on papyrus and also information on the early Church and other topics. It is a collection from which you could illustrate the whole history of literacy, book production and illustration from the earliest times up to the present. All of the specimens are well preserved and only the best were accepted, as Senator Bulbulia has explained, and those in the best condition.

The Library can be used as a very useful tourist attraction, as pointed out in the White Paper. This is an area that we should concentrate on. Schools should make more use of the Library and the Minister for Education might be able to help here. It is unfortunate that more schools and people on educational courses do not make use of the Library. The Library is visited by about 50 scholars [1180] per annum, mainly from abroad. The number of visitors in the current year is expected to be in the region of 10,000. Facilities for refreshments are needed, expecially as the premises are situated some distance from shops. They would be particularly useful in catering for the various school parties, which in most cases come from outside Dublin.

The literature provided by the Library states that only a small percentage of the Library's collections are on display at any one time and it is the aim of the trustees and its librarian to ensure that the Library should play a full part in the cultural and educational life of the country. To do this they have set out to make known what the Library actually contains. This is done in various ways by publishing catalogues and other means. The primary and important way is to have the space for the display. That is the reason why the Bill is not comprehensive enough. The Minister, in his opening address, said that housing the collection poses many problems. He went on to state that, in order to ensure that many fragile and priceless objects do not depreciate, it is essential to maintain variations in temperature, humidity and light within strict limits. I want to repeat that in buildings of this kind, which house priceless objects that are fragile and damaged easily, air conditioning is essential as it would provide very strict controls on the humidity.

With regard to light, it is interesting to read a very brief part of the review I spoke of, where it said:

It was surimono prints that were most likely to meet these criteria. Being originally produced in a small printing-run for a privileged circle they had been carefully maintained for the century and a half since their making, so that their freshness and delicacy is almost undiminished. If this vital conservation is to be continued, then the prints can only be displayed very temporarily.

For that reason catalogues are necessary and we welcome the publication of these. The point I am making is that, as the Minister [1181] has said, control of light is most important. We need a building which will provide controls in all those areas — temperature, humidity and light. The present buildings, with the exception of the last building which was built in 1975, are not capable of providing control in any of those areas. Control at present is clumsy at best.

I want to say, in conclusion, that while I welcome this Bill my understanding of it is that it does not provide for new buildings, although in section 1 it refers to additions and in section 2 it refers to the maintenance, upkeep, repair, renovation and improvement of the premises. For that reason the Bill is very restricted. It is essential, if this nation is to put a proper value on this important collection, that we would be making provision for a building where all these items could be stored and displayed properly and where no damage would occur to them. If any other country in the world had this collection proper provision would be made for such a building. I realise it is easy to be critical and to make recommendations. I know that the Minister is conscious of the great value of this collection, and I appeal to him to make some proposals in the not-too-distant future for the provision of a suitable building for this very important collection.

Mr. Browne: Cuirim fáilte roimh an mBille seo. Tá an-áthas orm go bhfuilim sa Seanad nuair atá an Bille á chuir ar aghaidh, mar taispeánann sé go bhfuilimid buíoch de Chester Beatty as ucht an bhronntanais iontaigh a thug sé dúinn. I was lucky enough on the last occasion when this Bill was being discussed and introduced by Senator Bulbulia to hear her give a wonderful description of the life and times of Chester Beatty. I have been in the chair on a few occasions, and that was one occasion when I did not find time dragging. I want to compliment her on giving a marvellous description of the life of Chester Beatty and for filling us in on his background. Senator Fitzsimons has done this as well, so, coming on to [1182] Christmas, I do not intend taking you on another free cruise to Africa.

Mr. Fitzsimons: Senator Bulbulia's contribution could be published in a separate pamphlet.

Mr. Browne: It would make very good reading. I would not mind reading it again and absorbing more of it the next time. Senator Fitzsimons has dealt with the building. I do not intend repeating what has been said. I want, as a Senator in 1985, simply to express my appreciation of what Chester Beatty has done and to show by passing this Bill that we as a nation apreciate his kindness and generosity in bequeathing to us such a valuable collection. We are often inclined to mix up wealth and ignorance and to feel that people who accumulate wealth have missed the standard of culture they should have. Chester Beatty is obviously one of those people who managed to do what we might regard as a very difficult, dirty, and from what Senator Fitzsimons has said, at times a dangerous job looking after the mines and still he managed to have this wonderful standard of culture.

Senator Bulbulia mentioned that he started off very early on in life. If I remember rightly, he started collecting rare Chinese pepper cannisters — I am not so sure what nowadays a young fellow should start off collecting. Senator Bulbulia made the very valuable comment that we should be sure not to discourage young lads who start off collecting stamps. I can see stamps as a very normal thing to start of with, but snuff bottles from China, India or some such place was setting such a standard that it is no wonder he reached the heights he did later on. We are lucky to have such a collection of important items in Dublin. It is marvellous that people can come here to see them and that they can attract people to come. I have the privilege of having in our parish at home in Carlow the Brownshill Dolmen which is the biggest dolmen in Europe. I often think to myself that many local people are unaware of its existence not to mention its historical significance. As I drive home from school in the evening, especially [1183] during the summer, I see queues of people with foreign registered cars going to see the dolmen. That attracts tourists here. The Chester Beatty Library can do the very same thing for us. It is nice that we can hold our heads high when it comes to world culture and the collection of valuables.

I am pleased also that the universities honoured Chester Beatty while he was alive. It so often happens that people are dead for many years before they are given the honour they deserve and we show our appreciation for their generosity and kindness. I am glad that while he was alive he realised that his generosity was appreciated in Ireland. It was something he accepted and he could die peacefully knowing that we were not completely forgetting what he did. This Bill adds further to our appreciation of what he did. I am delighted to be in the Seanad for the passage of this Bill. The least we might do is maintain a building which contains such a valuable collection. Senator Fitzsimons, as an architect, understands air conditioning and related problems. If this is necessary we will not be found wanting in making sure that we treat our collection in the best possible way. That is our way of saying to Chester Beatty, “We appreciate what you have done and we will continue to keep this collection to be inspected and appreciated by future generations of Irish people and visitors”. I welcome the Bill and hope it will continue to enhance the collection of the Chester Beatty Library.

Mrs. Robinson: Like other Senators I too welcome the fact that this Bill was introduced in the Seanad. The quality of speeches and the manifest interest of Senators who have contributed shows that there is an appreciation in this House of the importance of the Chester Beatty Library and of the wealth of the legacy to the Irish people which was given by him. Like other Senators who have visited the Library, I was at once astounded and amazed at the wealth of objects and historical civilisation that is so evidently there. I was also astonished [1184] at the penury in which the collection is kept in. The difficulty of providing the simplest things: new showcases, the kind of facilities for permanent exhibition and anything that would seem to be manifestly important when you have such a valuable collection.

Senator Bulbulia and Senator Fitzsimons have adequately described the wealth of the collection. I would like in my comments to address some of the issues which we can consider in the context of this Bill. I will, in the same spirit as Senator Fitzsimons, urge the Minister not to stop with the type of expenditure which he envisages in introducing this Bill but to be aware from the welcome the Bill have received in the House that there is a political will to go further in relation to ensuring that the collection itself is properly maintained, secured and fully developed. The thrust of my speech is going to be that the collection is underdeveloped at present, that the purpose of bestowing it to the Irish nation has not been fully realised and fulfilled. It has been significantly and partly fulfilled but not fully achieved.

It is worth noting that less than 1 per cent of the collection is on exhibit at any point in time. That is a low percentage for any similar body, museum or special collection. It is particularly regrettable because of the sheer quality of this collection. That is one of its outstanding aspects. There are no duds, there are no second rate objects. Every item from whatever civilisation is of the highest quality that money can buy and of the highest expertise advising on that quality. The collection represents material of the utmost quality and interest. Yet less than 1 per cent is on show. As Senator Fitzsimons mentioned, there are enormous problems in relation to storage, the adequacy of the present provision for storage. We must ask ourselves whether we are sure that this priceless collection is being maintained and will continue to be maintained in a fully satisfactory way. Have we ensured that the type of storage areas and, as Senator Fitzsimons has emphasised, the maintenance of the [1185] proper environment and climatic conditions within that storage are sufficient to ensure the perpetuity of this priceless heritage so that we hand it on to the next generation in as good a state as it has been handed on to us? I do not have specific worries or anxieties but there is some room for anxiety in relation to some of the more perishable of these objects, some of the manuscript material. This is a matter of very grave concern. It is a matter which should be investigated and the views of the trustees and staff should be fully taken into account in such an investigation.

I agree with Senator Fitzsimons that it is not adequate for the security of such a priceless collection that whenever there is to be an exhibition mounted or a change in the items on display, in either the old Library or the new gallery building, the objects have to be carried in the open air. A curator with a tray would have to carry the priceless objects, no matter what the weather, possibly hurrying in the rain from one building to another with somebody else holding an umbrella or with a simple cover over these objects. That is not desirable. That is not an adequate way of securing in the first place, and also preventing possible accidental damage to, such objects. There should be linkage without the necessity to go out into the open air. There should be better provision for the exhibition itself. Because of the constraints on space in the Chester Beatty Library there is no permanent exhibition. That again would be unusual in a collection and library of this kind. Normally a visitor coming from another country or from an Irish source would look for the permanent exhibition as well as any other particular exhibition at any point in time. For reasons of lack of space that is not available.

This is where I come down to the niggling points but they are a stunning contrast to the richness of the collection. The display cases in the Far Eastern room, for example, are not suitable for the valuable Japanese pictures on display. The lighting is wrong. There is concern about displaying [1186] these invaluable Japanese scrolls and pictures in the type of cases there. It would seem obvious that a body with such an incredibly important collection, including an important collection of Japanese pictures, would be able to have adequate display cases. But that is not the case at present.

I hope that when the Office of Public Works becomes more involved in areas like maintenance there will also be a budget for simply ensuring that there is adequate resources available for lighting, display cases and other necessary improvements.

There is no doubt that there is a great constraint on space. The Chester Beatty Library needs special areas for particular exhibitions. I did not get from the speech introducing this Bill a sense that the money envisaged which is at present referred to as being a total of £50,000 would be adequate for the kind of structural improvements required. One possibility — Senator Fitzsimons referred to it — would be to move from Shrewsbury Road into some other building. Within the complex on Shrewsbury Road a very considerable improvement could be made on space. For example, the older Library building was intended to have a second storey which it does not have. It would be interesting to explore the possibility of building that second storey in order to create further space. There are other ways in which existing buildings could be expanded to provide greater space.

Senator Browne referred to some extent to the fact that the collection is not very well known to many Irish people. I agree with him. Hopefully this debate and the fact that we are discussing this Library in the Seanad will help to correct that. One of the reasons is its location: It is located in an upper middle class residential area of Dublin. It is not an area that vast numbers of the population generally find themselves in. It is noticeable on a visit to the Chester Beatty Library that there are no facilities for the public. For example, there is no place to have a cup of coffee. There is a Library shop now and you can buy prints. Anybody [1187] bringing children or who want to spend a bit longer are at a loss for easy access to refreshments, to a cup of coffee or to a lunch nearby because of the location of the Library. I am sure that if there was a possibility of providing some limited refreshments in the Library, this would be of enormous help.

Because of the wealth and variety of the objects in the collection both from the civilisations from which they are drawn and the different textures — from books, pictures, china objects, almost every substance of quality is reflected in the collection — it would seem desirable that there should be a conservation officer and conservation laboratory. This would seem to be a very important aspect of developing and ensuring the preservation of the collection. There should also be training for further experts and staff in the area. That would seem to be the kind of development we should be envisaging. Similarly, it would seem highly desirable — if we are going to see an expansion of an existing development of involving schools and universities in visiting and using the resources of the Chester Beatty Library — that there should be an education officer. This would be of enormous benefit if we are to see the development of this collection.

That would reflect the intention of the donor, Chester Beatty. Not only did he bequeath his collection to the Irish people but he wanted it to be a learned institution. He actually, in some correspondence, had a vision that it would be linked to a university — he mentioned Trinity but that was only in passing. The link with a university is more what he sought. All of that element is still underdeveloped. It would be greatly helped, as far as schools are concerned, if there was an education officer to help to develop it. The reason for that is central to the importance of the collection itself. The most positive aspect of the collection is its superb quality and international importance. As another part of ensuring its fuller development, it could and should be a conference centre for specialists worldwide. There is no doubt that [1188] scholars from all over the world do come. They are probably the people who make most use and get most benefit from the Chester Beatty Library, a constant stream of scholars who avail of the rich variety of priceless objects. It would be an important development to have a conference centre for specialists worldwide. It would be possible to organise major conference exhibitions because of the quality of the objects.

I mentioned earlier that only 1 per cent of the collection is on display at any particular time. Another serious problem is that a whole proportion of the collection in the Chester Beatty Library has not been properly examined and made accessible outside the Library by being written about. Therefore, it is not known because it has not been properly written up and published as such. This is a terrible tragedy. For example, the Durer Drawings were published a few years ago in the Chester Beatty Library. Until that was done nobody even knew they were there. It is a beautiful book of the collection; they are all of very high quality. There are so many other areas where it is not possible to know what is there, as they have not been properly collated yet because the staffing resources have not lent themselves to that. It is extremely important that there is a full examination and writing up of the collections so that this can be published and a wider audience, both in Ireland and worldwide, will know of the wealth from the various cultures.

There is another aspect of the collection which does not seem to have realised its full potential as far as we in Ireland are concerned. Because the collection is international in standing and scope, because it is universal — as has been emphasised by other speakers — almost every major culture is represented in the Library. It is of incredible potential for an island people, for the Irish nation, young children in Ireland and citizens of this country. Because we are located on the edge of Europe, an island people, we can be rather inward looking in how we define culture. Yet we have, here in Dublin, an extraordinary collection of [1189] the major civilisations of the world, an extra learning potential for our young, but it is not being developed in this way. It is not being linked in in the way it should be with what is happening in the universities. Despite the fact that it is over 30 years since the Library was established in Shrewsbury Road, it is still a place that one could say that many Irish people are completely unaware of or only know as a name. They may see the sign as they drive past but have not been there. This is a sad reflection on the impact which the Chester Beatty collection has had. It undermines the vision which Beatty had that it would be a major resource and learning institution for the nation.

In order to develop this I believe that schools and colleges should have available to them the sort of facilities that major museums and collections have developed. In other words, they should have slide packs, videos and wall charts from the collection. These should be part of the education programme in schools and colleges. Irish children should be very much aware of and speak familiarly and proprietorily about the Chester Beatty collection because they are entitled to do so. School textbooks should be illustrated with items from the Library and they should reflect this culture. It is significant that, notwithstanding that we have this enormous resource, the universities have not developed Islamic and other studies which reflect this culture. It might even sound strange to say that they should because we have not really taken it all on board in the way that it is so available to us to do if we only appreciated fully the enormous richness of it. Therefore, it would be very important that this would happen. There must be a much greater involvement of the Chester Beatty Library with third level institutions. There should be greater exchange of staff and personnel. I know of one graduate student in fine arts in Trinity College who is mainly based on the Chester Beatty Library because that is the nature of her studies; she is specialising in Islamic studies. There is a certain [1190] linkage with the universities but this could be greatly increased without in any way undermining the independence and the autonomy of the trustees of the Chester Beatty Library. There is great room for developing that potential.

On this area of development I would urge as other Members of the House have urged, the importance of ensuring that we conserve and guard the collection in a manner which is at least in line with 20th century developments worldwide. With a collection of the highest international standard it is our duty, obligation and responsibility to ensure that the standard of preservation, conservation and maintenance is of the highest late 20th century standard. To accept less than that is to diminish the value of this heritage. We have no right to do that. It would be contrary to all our instincts and to all the views expressed on this Bill in the House. Our first duty is to conserve.

I am not satisfied at present that there is adequate conservation in the manner of storage, in the manner in which items have to be moved from building to building and in the atmospheric conditions in which items are kept. Secondly, we must exploit fully the collection for the benefit of the public at large. There should be much greater use of exhibitions and involvement of classes. There is a role for an education officer to go and talk in schools about the Library. There is also the need for the publication of a mixture of scholarly matter and scholarly examination of parts of the collection which are still almost unknown because they have not been catalogued. They are also more popular in the sense that they are more addressed to general publications about the Library itself and the collections in the Library.

It is important that we ensure that young staff are being trained. I had the impression when visiting the Library that it has a very small, highly expert staff, all of a certain age — without being rude — and that it was not visible that they are working with each individual, highly qualified curator in the areas of the collection. It was not visible that four or five young Irish people were getting a highly [1191] important training so that this tradition would be carried on. That is important. We are all taking pleasure in having a debate in the Seanad on this magnificent collection and magnificent heritage. It is an opportunity to express concern.

In so far as this Bill authorises the involvement of the Office of Public Works and the expenditure of further money on the Library, I would fully support it. But I would, as Senator Fitzsimons has done and, as I am sure Senator Bulbulia did in her contribution, like to see this expanded in a more generous way in the areas I have talked about. I would like to see the real potential of this collection understood and developed. I would like to see that primarily for the Irish people although I agree that the collection is important in drawing scholars and others from all parts of the world to see it. They would come in greater numbers if they knew more of the collections, if they were further explored and catalogued. At the moment it is largely a hidden resource. We must be concerned about that and make sure that it is fully explored and exploited. Finally, I welcome this Bill and I hope in his reply the Minister will indicate the attitude towards the further development of the potential of this magnificent and valuable collection.

Professor Dooge: The Bill is largely concerned with the question of the maintenance of this very rich collection. It is altogether appropriate that in discussing the Bill we should emphasise the uniqueness and the richness of this collection. It is a very small movement in the alphabet from the letter i to the letter j; it is a very small movement in the listing of the countries of the world from Ireland to Japan; but it is a very large movement in culture to move from the culture of this far western European island to the islands of Japan. We have here in Dublin in the Chester Beatty collection a full reflection of the wide diversity of cultures that lies between Ireland and Japan.

It is some years now since I last read the account of the voyages of Marco Polo. I cannot quite remember whether it was [1192] the first journey that took the northern route and the second the southern route to China, or visa versa. Both these great traverses of culture are represented in the Chester Beatty Library; the northern route from these western islands to Germany, where printing was invented, to the Black Sea to Samarkand and the great silk road to China. All the cultural diversity of that route is here in Dublin. If we take the southern route through the Mediterranean lands to Asia Minor, Persia and through India, China and Japan all this tremendous diversity of culture is represented in this Library in Dublin. As Senator Bulbulia has said, in a sense “library” is a misnomer because it is at once a library, a museum and a gallery, a most amazing assembly to have been put together by one individual.

It is only natural for somebody like myself who has spent his life as an engineer and being subject through that of the general suspicion that all engineers are philistines to at least be able to point to Alfred Chester Beatty and say that here was an engineer who proved that engineering, culture and taste were not incompatible. He was, as Senator Bulbulia indicated in her speech, a most remarkable man. He was, as Senator Fitzsimons said, a man who really roughed it during his younger years, a man who was told in his early forties that he could not be insured because of the damage to his own personal health as a result of his practical mining experience, but who, we are all very glad, lived for another 50 years to prove the insurers were wrong.

Even those of us who have enough interest and enough knowledge to take part in this debate can hardly realise the riches of this collection. It is a treasure house of human endeavour. It is true, as Senator Browne said, that there is this tendency that when you have these things on your own doorstep you do not appreciate them. This is certainly true of the Chester Beatty Library. I have had much pleasure from the Chester Beatty Library but I did not visit it as early as I should have. I cannot quite remember but I suspect my first visit to the Chester Beatty Library was probably under the necessity [1193] of bringing some visitor from one of the eastern cultures that was represented there. This wonderful treasure is completely under-appreciated. Maybe it is something about these specialist museums. There is another museum in Durham. It is nothing on the scale of the Chester Beatty Library but it is a very interesting oriental museum in the cathedral city of Durham. When I visited Durham nobody ever told me about it. I was walking around the city one evening when I discovered this small most interesting musuem by accident.

We have here one of the most astounding collections. We have in this museum in Dublin representatives of cultures not only spread geographically but throughout 5,000 years of history. While we are not primarly concerned with the question of the nature of the collection. I think it is relevant to what is in the Bill. It is necessary to realise the uniqueness of this national treasure in order to appreciate how necessary it is, in order to appreciate how high a priority should be given to the maintenance of this treasure. We have in this Dublin library cum museum cum gallery clay tablets dating back 5,000 years linking us with the very beginnings of literate culture. Not only do we have that, we have among the Egyptian collection in the Chester Beatty Library - dating back I do not know how far because I am not really concerned with antiquity but with the nature of this particular item — an Egyptian love poem which gives us a link back to this rather dusty civilisation of Egypt which can bring home to us the realisation that human nature does not change over the millennia just as other parts of the collection indicate that human nature does not change over the world.

This is not just something in esoteric interest; it is not just something for the cultured few. The realisation that, over the millennia of history and over the global spread of geography, mankind is one can be the spur to effective political action in the world today in order to ensure that this world of ours does not dissipate itself into fragments. In facing the great issues of threats to world peace, [1194] of feeding the people of the world we can realise that this world of ours is one world and must be treated as one world. As a help to realising the unity and diversity of human culture we have in the Chester Beatty collection almost a dozen biblical codices. We have over 200 copies of the Koran. We have, as a counter balance to what we learned to appreciate from the western tradition of painting, examples of Persian painting, Turkish painting and of Indian painting. We have many artefacts from Burma, Thailand and Japan.

I understand that when there was an exhibition in Japan some years ago for which material was lent from all over the world, the contribution of the collection of the British Museum, that great repository of the fruits of imperial power, was of such a size that the individual who was responsible for it was able to put it under his arm and board the plane for Tokyo. But the representative of the Chester Beatty Library who was bringing the contribution of the Library was forced to book a second seat on the aircraft so much had this collection of ours in Dublin to contribute even in contrast with what we think of as the enormous riches of the British Museum.

What we are saying to the Minister here today is maybe the trust that we accepted when we as a nation accepted the Chester Beatty collection has been put at risk. Anybody who has visited the Chester Beatty Library and anyone who has discussed with the members of the staff of the Chester Beatty Library must reach the conclusion that, whatever excuses we may make about lack of resources, it is a fair charge. Senator Robinson indicated in her contribution that we have at the very least put this magnificent, this comprehensive, this unique collection at risk. While we must ordinarily commend the prudence of the Minister's Department in taking on extra burdens, we must deplore the inordinate delay in reaching the situation that we have this evening when this Bill is before us. We must count ourselves lucky that there has not been damage, that there has not been loss. I would like to say that we as a country who made the gesture [1195] of making Alfred Beatty an honorary citizen and made the gesture of giving Alfred Chester Beatty a State funeral have been extremely lucky that we did not find ourselves in the position of betraying the remarkable trust of Alfred Chester Beatty when he left this collection to the Irish nation.

I join with the Senators who have reminded the Minister of the importance of this collection and the importance of ensuring that this collection is properly maintained in the future. It has been preserved up until now but we have been lucky in this regard. Our luck may not last. I am glad to see in the definition section of this Bill, which empowers the Minister and his Department to improve the physical facilities of the Chester Beatty Library, that improvement includes addition. I would join with Senator Jack Fitzsimons in what he said in this regard.

The other point that is important is one that was stressed by Senator Mary Robinson, that we should use this great treasure that we have. She has indicated that she feels that there could be greater links with our universities. I certainly would agree with her on that but it is correct that at the same time we should point out that the links do exist. There have been links and many scholars, both in Trinity College, Dublin, and in University College Dublin have taken full advantage. It is true that eastern and far-eastern studies have been relatively neglected in our universities but we have had outstanding scholars in this field. One can instance Professor Dermot Ryan before he was called to higher things, during the years in which he was Professor of Semitic studies at University College Dublin. He not only played a full role in promoting such studies but indeed made full use of the facilities of the Chester Beatty Library.

We must go beyond the scholars. We must look out to the general public. Here the Chester Beatty Library has achieved a great deal. While we would all like to see more visits by the public and by schools, let us not overlook the fact that [1196] there are substantial visits by the Irish public, that there are substantial visits by the schools. While we pay tribute to the permanent staff of the Chester Beatty Library, we should also pay tribute to those who act as guides for these visits, people who are not members of the permanent staff but who have been trained in order to act as guides for visiting groups. We would all like to see an improvement in regard to group visits. Indeed we would hope that, in what the Minister is able to do under the Bill, it would facilitate further development in this regard.

We underestimate the receptiveness of young people to collections such as the Chester Beatty Library. We under-estimate the receptiveness of young people to our National Museum and to our National Art Gallery. Children who are brought by parents or, as I now know at my stage of life, by their grandparents to these centres of culture react far more than one would expect. The latent appreciation of culture seems to blossom and be effective at a far earlier age than, for example, an appreciation of landscapes. I have always remarked that there appreciation of landscapes seems to come at a much later stage. Therefore, there is everything to be said for encouraging visits by the young. While this is in a sense an esoteric collection, while it reflects cultures which in many ways we find difficult to appreciate the full nuance of, this should not prevent us from bringing children to see this at an early age. It may well be that young children can appreciate this better, because their minds have not been overlaid by all the presumptions of our own western culture. It may well be that just as a young child of the age of five, six or seven is in a better position to pick up a foreign language at that age, rather than at 14, 15 or 16 years of age, so too a child of that age may be far more open to receiving the latent messages of other cultures than a teenage child.

We have had an interesting debate here in Seanad Éireann. There has been an emphasis by many speakers on the uniqueness of this national treasure which Sir Alfred Chester Beatty has left [1197] to our care. There has been a concern that we should exercise that care with more thought and with a greater financial commitment from the State than we have up to now. There has been a concern that this treasure should be brought more clearly to the attention of the public, young and old. With those three viewpoints I concur and indeed heartily support this Bill.

Somewhat later I will be proposing that the Committee Stage be taken in February. I would like to propose that the Committee Stage be held in the Chester Beatty Library. Perhaps the first stage of education might be to persuade, not those who are here, because they already obviously know of the great value of what we have, but our absent colleagues, to join us in the Chester Beatty Library in February for the Committee Stage. If anyone can think of any way of doing that, perhaps the next step of the education of the Irish public in regard to the nature of this great collection would have been undertaken.

Séamus de Brún: We could travel by coach.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. J. Bermingham): I thank all the Senators who contributed to the debate on this Bill. I am pleased, on my own behalf and on behalf of the Office of Public Works, to take responsibility for what is set out in the Bill. As you know, the Office of Public Works, have a wide range of experience in dealing with problems posed in maintaining buildings such as the Chester Beatty Library. I assure the House that the Office of Public Works will diligently and conscientiously discharge their responsibilities. I shall deal with a number of specific points raised by Senators. I assure Senator Hillery that the Office of Public Works have agreed with the trustees on procedures for the recoupment to the trustees of funds advanced by them. I understand that the trustees are happy with the procedures. This Bill is necessary because neither the Government nor the Office of Public Works had power to spend money on [1198] this Library until this Bill was passed. There has been a grant to maintain and run the Library. The trustees had to dip down into their own pockets in order to ensure that certain damage was not done on account of the state of repair of the Library.

Professor Dooge has said that what is disappointing about this is that it did not come quickly enough. I am inclined to agree with him. This Library is there many years and it must have shown signs of deterioration long before now. I agree with him that something should be done. On my own behalf all I can say is that on 18 October 1984 the Government made a decision to have a Bill drafted. In fairness to everybody concerned it has come very speedily; in my office I have to wait for Bills a lot longer. We had the Bill drafted and ready within a year. I understand that there are problems in the Attorney General's Office and everywhere else but nevertheless it was produced very quickly.

Mr. Ferris: By Office of Public Works' standards.

Mr. J. Bermingham: The Office of Public Works do not draft Bills. I have a National Monuments Bill which is badly needed and which is with the drafters for the last three years.

Professor Dooge: Keep nagging them. We want that——

Mr. J. Bermingham: I am just saying this time scale has not been bad. In reply to a point raised by Senator Robinson the Office of Public Works provide in the plans for indoor linkage between existing buildings and also linkage into the new extension so that objects would not therefore have to be brought out into the weather when they are being moved between the buildings.

Senator Fitzsimons raised the shortage of space. It is obvious that space at the Library is restricted. The Commissioners of Public Works have undertaken a feasibility study in respect of a new extension project to the existing complex of the [1199] building. The study is at present before the Library trustees. It is fair to say that the Office of Public Works are not in charge of museums or libraries in this State and that funds would have to be provided. We have done the feasibility study and if the people accept it, we would certainly be ready to go ahead with the extension but it would have to be provided for in the Estimates for culture and art or in some other area. We have done that. If the trustees take up the question again, the funding will have to go to the arts and culture department.

Senator Fitzsimons said it was a pretty small Bill. I do not know what he means by stop-gap Bill. The Bill gives the authority and the power required to do the job. A big Bill would not do anything more than that. I do not accept that it is a stop-gap Bill. The Bill is adequate for what it was meant to do. The purpose of the Bill is to do the necessary things for the preservation of this amazing collection. I agree thoroughly that that should be done. Maybe it should have been long ago. We are taking steps to do it now and the Bill gives the necessary authority for the State to provide the money to do it. That is the idea of the Bill. The £50,000 mentioned by Senator Robinson is what the trustees have already spent and that is what we are going to give back to them. As Senator Robinson will understand we had no legal authority to even estimate what money was necessary to spend until now. We have no legal authority to go in and do work and spend any money there until this Bill is passed. That is the idea [1200] of the Bill. I am not in a position to say what will be done about extensions. That belongs to another department. Our people are prepared to do it. We will be doing a job that will ensure that there will be no damage caused to the valuables and I do not want to go into the collection that is there already. Other people have done it. I appreciate that this is very important. What we are getting here today is the authority. This Bill will have to go back to the Dáil. I hope that the other stages will come immediately.

I thank the Members of the Seanad for their courtesy to me and for the very learned and exciting contributions that have been made right across the board. I thank them for that and assure them that we will be doing what is necessary to preserve these treasures which have been handed over by a very great gentleman for the enjoyment of our people.

Question put and agreed to.

Mrs. Robinson: Where will the next stage be taken?

Professor Dooge: Shrewsbury Road would be my proposition.

An Cathaoirleach: I am advised that it has to be here.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 5 Febuary 1985.

The Seanad adjourned at 6.40 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 20 December 1985.