The plan to move the Abbey to the GPO will cost about half what moving to the docklands would have done, and will help rejuvenate O’Connell Street, the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism has said. Martin Cullen said he planned to take a decision on whether to move the Abbey to O’Connell Street soon and estimates that relocating it in time for 2016 would cost €80 to €90 million, much less than the expected cost at George’s Dock (€150 million to €170 million), which had progressed almost to architectural competition before problems arose.
On the GPO’s future, he said: “I don’t want another museum there, open nine to five, then the whole bloody thing is dead. Think of the wider context of O’Connell Street and try to rejuvenate it,” he said. Mr Cullen said an architect had drawn up plans and made a model of how the Abbey might be relocated to the GPO before the suggestion ever came into the public domain.
He had received an approach out of the blue about a year ago from an unnamed “very good international architect” who has worked with theatres. He had taken the theatre’s specifications, did “a huge amount of research”, and made a model. “So I know it works,” said Mr Cullen. “I saw it all and it’s fantastic.” Asked whose idea moving the Abbey to the GPO was, Mr Cullen said: “It kind of came mutually . . . We were talking about it and kicking it around . . . He said “˜That’s a fascinating idea’. He had it in the back of his own mind as well, but I said, “˜Will the thing work?’ and he said, “˜Leave it with me’.”