According to the renowned Tibetan lama Mingyur Rinpoche …”building a place where we can find peace and happiness in our minds can only be beneficial, in the widest possible sense.” For the past seven years, since the sod was turned in 2016, this is what the community at Dzogchen Beara, the Tibetan Buddhist retreat centre on the Beara peninsula has been painstakingly working towards. Having reached the final furlong, the goal now is to raise the necessary €700,000 needed to complete Ireland’s first Buddhist temple in time to start welcoming visitors next Spring.
Over 4.7 million euro has already been invested into this monumental building, whose stunning golden copper alloy roofs are designed in the authentic style of a Tibetan Buddhist temple and adorned with copper ornaments all carefully hand-gilded by the team at Dzogchen Beara. At the very peak sits the main sacred ornament and inside that there is an ingot of copper from the 19th century donated by the local Allihies Copper Mine Museum, signifying the retreat centre’s connection to the local community.
Inside the building rest the recently received Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Tara statues from Thailand and Nepal waiting to be mounted on the shrine after being filled with blessed substances and relics.
“In hindsight if we had raised all the money before starting, while we may have completed the project more quickly, we might have made some mistakes,” shares temple project manager Leon Rossiter.
“The fundraising has set the pace for each stage, helping to contribute to the quality and longevity of the building, which we hope will welcome hundreds of thousands of people over hundreds of years.”
Although the major construction work has been completed, temple project manager Leon Rossiter and Brian Murphy of Beara Building Services are still busy on site. The final touches are being made to the courtyard, which has been paved with Indian sandstone; capping has started on the the 50-metre wall at the back of the temple and the Liscannor stone has been chiselled and installed on to the main pillars at the sweeping entrance to the temple. Maella Wootton was responsible for researching, testing and gilding the copper roof decorations in gold leaf. Her sister Isha, who helped her gild, will return to Dzogchen in July to paint all the pillar decoration.
“The Beara community takes huge pride in the building because of the involvement of so many local contractors,” shares centre director Malcolm MacClancy. “It’s been really fulfilling seeing small villages in Asia being sustained by the work on the temple decorations and then seeing Brian and the team here receive them in the next phase…from one small community to another.”
“We have had a great team from the start,” says Brian, who travelled to France to view a similar structure there before commencing work on the temple in Beara.
“It’s been a lovely project to work on and a great place to work…fine and relaxing,” he smiles.
Over 2000 trees and plants have been introduced here over the past four years framing the cliff-edge infinity garden, which leads you down to the breathtaking expansive ocean views.
“While seven years might feel like a long time, we’re very aware that in Tibet this temple would have taken a lifetime to build,” says Leon.
“The shell of the building is completed so now the goal is to make it a working space.”
Inside, the second fix has to be started and the solid oak floor laid. There is a vast amount of ornate decorating work still to be done. The complete teachings of the Buddha will be encased in huge wooden bookcases and the statues must be mounted on the shrine.
Tibetan Masters have said that the power of the location of the Dzogchen Beara temple at the south-western tip of Europe makes it especially important for the future of Buddhism, and that blessings of healing and protection will flow from here through the elements, to touch the whole world.
As well as a place of spiritual practice and teaching, once completed, the temple will also offer a programme of public retreats and seminars open to everybody.
“It has been a path of aspiration and, now we’re on the final stretch, our hope is that people will want to help us reach the end,” says Malcolm. “This temple will be such an amazing thing for West Cork.”
In 1973, Englishman Peter Cornish and his wife Harriet bought this clifftop farmland with the intention of creating a spiritual home for people of all traditions. In 1992 they gifted the land and buildings to a charitable trust. Harriet’s death at the age of 44 to cancer inspired the building of the Spiritual Care Centre at Dzogchen Beara.
All donors’ names – no matter how small or large the donation – will be included on a scroll to be enshrined in the temple when it is complete. You can donate in your name, the name of a loved one, or of somebody who has passed away. The intentions of all donors are prayed for daily by the Dzogchen Beara community. To donate to the building of the temple go to www.dzogchenbearatemple.com