One of the largest conservation restoration projects to be undertaken in state history is underway with site works beginning in July 2019 with a planned completion date of August 2021 and a cost of €9 million. As the Cathedral is an operational place of worship with over 500,000 tourists and 65,000 religious visitors attending the cathedral each year, Clancy Construction have planned work to proceed without interruption to the daily operations of the Cathedral.
Vital to the success of the project is the surrounding scaffold installation. The scaffold is set out over three phases with phase 2 completing the largest temporary roof scaffold ever built in Ireland. The scaffold has been designed and manufactured by Layher Germany specifically for this project with elements of scaffolding arriving to site from four different European Layher manufacturing plants in Poland, Romania, Germany and Great Britain. Design and installation of the scaffold structure is overseen by Layher, Cora Consulting Engineers and Punch Consulting Engineers. Oversight is also undertaken by Linzi Simpson Archaeology and B2 Conservation Architects.
As part of the project the refurbishment of over thirty of the original clerestory window units is also underway. Holywell Glass from Wells, England has been nominated for this work and carried out the removal, refurbishment and replacement of the window units. Each window is carefully removed, transported to ground and placed in a protective container before removal to the workshop in England where a complete refurbishment of window sets is overseen by their specialist stained glass professionals. Once completed the windows are repackaged and transported back to Ireland for replacement in their original position.
Conservation Restoration have been contracted to complete the stone repointing and carbon removal works. Raking of jointwork, cleaning of carbon, repointing and in some places replacement of damaged stonework is underway to the stone faces, castellations, turrets, pinnacles and dentils.
After weathering numerous storms the upper roof refurbishment was long overdue. 150 years ago Benjamin Guinness completed the roof rebuild and in doing so saved the Cathedral from destruction. The upper roof works incorporate the removal of the original slate, removal of horse hair felt and de-nailing of sarking board. Following this the removal of the lead gutters, soakers and step cover flashings along with replacement of larch timberworks and refurbishment of any rotten rafters/ trusses is undertaken. Finally the lead gutters and flashings are fully replaced with Code 8 & 10 sand cast lead. In keeping with conservation good practices the Penryn slate quarry provided the existing slates to Benjamin Guinness and it is from this quarry that the new slates have been procured. Once replaced the upper roofs will have 12,500 new slates and kilometres of lead work installed.
Internally works are to be undertaken to the attic spaces in the Nave, Choir, North & South transept. Works include the following. Cleaning of debris from all stone and Lath/ plaster ceilings, installation of safety netting for protection of workers and visitors, stone work repair to internal walls, fire proofing and fire alarm upgrade, timber walkway removal and replacement along with access ladders for maintenance of electrical systems.
All works are undertaken with fire safety and Covid safety foremost in everyone’s mind. A fire and first aid alert system has been installed to the site area. Risk assessments and weekly fire tests are carried out to ensure all precautions undertaken.
As the architects are unable to visit from England due to Covid restrictions Clancy Construction facilitate architect inspections with onsite teams meetings via Apple iPads. All design team meetings are now undertaken using remote links Teams or Zoom connections. Works have proceeded as per the original programme with a planned completion date for mid-August 2021.