175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works || Preserving the Past

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<ul><li><p>Irish Arts Review</p><p>Preserving the PastAuthor(s): Grellan D. RourkeSource: Irish Arts Review (2002-), Vol. 23, 175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works(2006), pp. 22-25Published by: Irish Arts ReviewStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25503513 .Accessed: 12/06/2014 14:42</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p><p> .</p><p>Irish Arts Review is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Irish Arts Review(2002-).</p><p>http://www.jstor.org </p><p>This content downloaded from on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:42:43 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=iarhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/25503513?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>I PRESERVING THE PAST </p><p>Preserving the Past </p><p>' * ' "n+? '&amp;r * </p><p>X ????IT* </p><p>..*&amp;' &gt;;* </p><p>"? </p><p>Since its foundation in 1874, the National Monuments Service has developed and </p><p>adapted to meet the needs of monuments preservation, writes GRELLAN D. ROURKE </p><p>The establishment of a National Monuments </p><p>Service can be dated to 1874, although the </p><p>first historic sites were handed over to the </p><p>OPW five years previously. There are now </p><p>about 740 National Monuments in state care and it is </p><p>the job of the conservation staff within the National </p><p>Monuments Service to protect and preserve them. </p><p>There is a huge variety of monuments, from decorated </p><p>stones, early archaeological sites, monastic abbeys, </p><p>medieval castle complexes, simple churches, military </p><p>fortresses, 18th-century buildings, to industrial heritage, </p><p>vernacular cottages and even bridges. Some monuments </p><p>are more vulnerable than others and a balance must be </p><p>achieved between preservation and visitor access. </p><p>These diverse monuments present a range of chal </p><p>lenges and the OPW has a network of workshops and </p><p>a skilled workforce around the country to undertake </p><p>this work. To ensure continuity of expertise and pass </p><p>on specialist skills, an innovative apprenticeship </p><p>scheme was set up in 2001 - for the first time it </p><p>included formal apprenticeships in stone masonry </p><p>and thatch. To date, more than fifty apprentices have </p><p>been accepted, and a small number have qualified. </p><p>Specialists are also employed from the private sector. </p><p>2 2 I </p><p>OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION </p><p>This content downloaded from on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:42:43 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>j^^^^H [Tj^^^^HH??HHHHIHI^^^^H?Gm? </p><p>HIHI W????B????HB???S??S^^iS????itn Coastal erosion can present serious problems of </p><p>preservation, as in the case of Dunbeg promontory fort </p><p>on the Dingle Peninsula where a major fault runs </p><p>through the site. It has not been possible to halt the </p><p>damage; however, the site has been fully excavated and </p><p>published and safe access provided for visitors. But there </p><p>have been successes: the dry-stone oratory on Church </p><p>Island, Valentia, has been saved and at Carrigaholt </p><p>Castle in Co Clare a major rock shield was put in posi </p><p>tion to take the brunt of the wave force. This work was </p><p>carried out with expertise from the Department of </p><p>Communications, Marine </p></li><li><p>Il PRESERVING THE PAST ^^^^^H?l HHH^^^I </p><p>It is important that sites with high visitor numbers are managed appropriately to </p><p>preserve the site while still permitting access </p><p>--W *-Mq </p><p>I 1 </p><p>7 Aerial view of </p><p>Portumna Castle, Co Galway showing the restored formal </p><p>garden layout </p><p>8 Removal of the </p><p>Cross of the </p><p>Scriptures at </p><p>Clonmacnoise, Co Offaly </p><p>- this high cross is now located </p><p>in the visitors' centre </p><p>and a cast replica stands in its place </p><p>9 Repairing a stone </p><p>window in situ at </p><p>Portumna Castle, Co. Galway </p><p>10 Fresco </p><p>fragments in the </p><p>early 12th-century Cormac's Chapel in Cashel, </p><p>Co Tipperary </p><p>It is very complex building made up of parts dating from </p><p>at least eight different periods stretching from the 11th </p><p>to the 19th centuries. Analysis of samples gave a remark </p><p>able picture of how the mortars had developed over time </p><p>and formed the basis for the re-creation of historic mor </p><p>tars for use in the conservation project. Structural inter </p><p>vention can play a major role in the preservation of a </p><p>large monument where serious deformation has taken </p><p>place and the structure begins to fail, sometimes over a </p><p>considerable period of time. At Ardfert the first inter </p><p>ventions to preserve the structure took place during the </p><p>19th century. A more recent innovative approach has </p><p>resulted in the entire south-east wall being cantilevered </p><p>off the rock beneath, allowing for the removal of the </p><p>large disfiguring stone buttress. Now for the first time in </p><p>over one hundred years the fine south lancet windows at </p><p>Ardfert can be appreciated in their entirety (Fig 3). </p><p>Many historic buildings are in a ruinous state and in </p><p>recent years a series of restoration projects has brought </p><p>a small number back into use, such as Parke's Castle on </p><p>Lough Gill in Co Leitrim and Ross Castle (Fig 2) on </p><p>Lough Leane, Killarney. Traditional crafts were used in </p><p>both castles - at Ross, wicker work was used in the </p><p>repair of the vaulting and all the oak members were </p><p>adzed and the entire roof and floors pegged together. </p><p>With Clonmacnoise in mind, trainees have studied </p><p>casting for making replicas of decorative stones at the </p><p>Centre for Restoration in Mainz. Clonmacnoise is </p><p>home to a wonderful collection of high crosses and dec </p><p>orated commemorative stones. Many of these had suf </p><p>fered greatly over time. The high crosses have been </p><p>brought indoors (Fig 8) and cast replicas positioned out </p><p>side when archaeological investigation was satisfied </p><p>that the locations were original. Replicas have been cast </p><p>of some of the more vulnerable decorative slabs. </p><p>Ireland has a small collection of wall-painting frag </p><p>ments - much has been lost, so it is important to record </p><p>and preserve what remains. On the Rock of Cashel </p><p>stands the remarkable early 12th-century Cormac's </p><p>Chapel where frescoes had long been hidden beneath </p><p>layers of limewash (Fig 10). Conservation work has been </p><p>underway here for many years. This work must progress </p><p>very slowly - little by little the adverse internal envi </p><p>ronment has been turned around and the fresco frag </p><p>ments have been uncovered, conserved and document </p><p>ed by wall-painting conservators from Britain, commis </p><p>sioned with the advice of the Council of Europe. Since </p><p>work began conservation expertise has developed in </p><p>Ireland and projects have been undertaken to preserve </p><p>wall-paintings in St Bridget's Church, Clare Island, Co </p><p>2 4 1 </p><p>7 I </p><p>This content downloaded from on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:42:43 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>Mayo (Fig 1) and in Ardamullivan Castle, Co Galway. Work on Clare Island is now completed and the project </p><p>has been published by the Royal Irish Academy. It is important to bring interiors alive and in the last </p><p>two decades furniture has been purchased for particu </p><p>lar projects. There is now a fine collection of early oak </p><p>furniture housed at Cahir, Carrick-on-Suir and Ross </p><p>castles. Also on display at Cahir and Ross is a range of </p><p>vessels recreated by a ceramics artist and an archaeo </p><p>logical specialist in mediaeval pottery, based on frag </p><p>ments uncovered in excavations throughout the coun </p><p>try. There has also been the opportunity to make fac </p><p>simile furniture and a number of such pieces are on dis </p><p>play at Barryscourt Castle in Co Cork. A specialist con </p><p>servator was employed to repair and conserve a wattle </p><p>screen partition and some very early 17th-century tim </p><p>ber panelling at Tintern Abbey, Co Wexford. </p><p>There is a strong decorative plasterwork tradition in </p><p>Ireland and early surviving examples include the </p><p>Elizabethan mansion at Carrick-on-Suir, where a sec </p><p>tion of the decorative ceiling in the great hall has been </p><p>restored. Brick is a more recent material - </p><p>Jigginstown </p><p>manor house in Co Kildare dates from the 1630s and </p><p>displays a remarkable level of skill and craftsmanship. </p><p>The bricks were made in the locality and 'cut and </p><p>rubbed' to make elaborate decorative elements. It was </p><p>never fully completed and had suffered serious deterio </p><p>ration. Detailed research and examination have been </p><p>undertaken and, with the help of expert advice, a pro </p><p>gramme of conservation has now been put in place. </p><p>Projects are not just confined to the structures </p><p>themselves. Portumna Castle in Co Galway, a fine for </p><p>tified Jacobean mansion, has been a major project (Fig </p><p>9). The curtilage of the castle forms an integral part of </p><p>the project and excavation and research has informed </p><p>the recreation of the formal gardens (Fig 7). </p><p>There are unique monuments, too, like the Swiss </p><p>Cottage in Cahir, one of the earliest cottage orn? (Fig 6). </p><p>This was in a very poor condition when it passed into </p><p>State care and a major restoration project was undertak </p><p>en fifteen years ago. The entire building was re-thatched </p><p>with repairs to the stick-work verandahs on the outside, </p><p>and the exotic original wallpaper was conserved and, in </p><p>places, restored. Newmills in Co Donegal is one of the </p><p>few monuments of industrial heritage in care. The build </p><p>ing has been restored and the combined corn and flax </p><p>mill mills are fully operational. Conservation plans have </p><p>been prepared for places like Poulnabrone portal tomb </p><p>in the Burren, Ennis Friary in Co Clare and Durrow </p><p>Abbey in Co Offaly. It is important that sites with high visitor numbers are managed appropriately to preserve </p><p>the site while still permitting controlled access. A five </p><p>Aighleann O'Shaughnessy Aighleann O'Shaughnessy studied Architecture at University </p><p>College Dublin and joined the OPW on graduating in 1971. In </p><p>1973 she moved to the National Monuments Service, and has been </p><p>Senior Architect since 1988. She is Senior Conservation Architect, in </p><p>charge of two of the six regions into which the country is divided, </p><p>which covers an area roughly defined by drawing a line just south of </p><p>Glendalough, across almost to Limerick city and down to Bantry Bay. </p><p>Aighleann and her team are currently </p><p>completing a project at Tintern Abbey in Wexford, </p><p>which came into state care in 1963, when initial </p><p>works were carried out under Percy LeClerc. </p><p>'Cormac's Chapel on the Rock of Cashel is anoth </p><p>er ongoing project that is very important. It is a </p><p>Romanesque chapel, with 12th-century frescoes, </p><p>unique in Ireland. While much work has been </p><p>carried out, we still need to stabilise the environ </p><p>mental conditions in the building and do some </p><p>more work on conservation of the stone.' </p><p>There have been changes during Aighleann's time with the OPW, </p><p>not only in organisational and financial respects, but also in conserva </p><p>tion techniques and approaches: 'When I started in Monuments there </p><p>was a standard mix for mortar, for example, which included use of </p><p>cement. Now we carry out careful analysis of existing mortars, and </p><p>replicate historic mortars using lime. We don't use cement anymore. </p><p>Also, there are better tools available for carrying out the very fine </p><p>work. And there are more possibilities in terms of careful structural </p><p>intervention, for example in the use of stainless steel ties. Laser </p><p>technology has become increasingly useful in recent years. Laser </p><p>scanning is used for surveys of both buildings and objects, and to </p><p>create a replica of an existing object without having to take a mould.' </p><p>To Aighleann, a very important development in recent years is the </p><p>OPW's introduction of apprenticeship schemes, to train young people </p><p>in traditional skills: 'Even if they leave us and go out into the greater </p><p>world, those skills, and the awareness of materials, are still going to </p><p>be there for everyone's benefit.' </p><p>Apart from her work in the OPW, Aighleann maintains her interest </p><p>in heritage through membership of groups such as the Royal Society </p><p>of Antiquaries of Ireland, the Institute for the Conservation of Historic </p><p>and Artistic Works in Ireland, and ICOMOS Ireland. </p><p>year management plan is now in operation at sites like </p><p>Clonmacnoise and Portumna Castle. It may even be </p><p>possible to manage a site without having a full-time </p><p>presence there. Adare Castle complex in Co Limerick </p><p>will be fully open to the public next year following a </p><p>major conservation project and visitors will be taken to </p><p>the site by minibus from Adare so there will be no need </p><p>for additional construction at the site. </p><p>Grellan D Rourke, Senior Conservation Architect, National </p><p>Monuments Service, Heritage Services, OPW. </p><p>OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION | </p><p>2 5 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:42:43 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p>Article Contentsp. 22p. [23]p. 24p. 25</p><p>Issue Table of ContentsIrish Arts Review (2002-), Vol. 23, 175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works (2006), pp. 1-48Front MatterForeword [p. 1-1]OPW 175th Anniversary Edition [p. 2-2]The OPW a History of Service [pp. 3-5]Art of the State: Inheritance, Development, Legacy [pp. 6-11]Building for the Nation: Architectural Services at the OPW [pp. 12-17]Weaving Heaven and Earth [pp. 18-21]Preserving the Past [pp. 22-25]A Glittering Legacy [pp. 26-29]Conservation at OPW: Policy, Protection, Partnership [pp. 30-33]Cultural Collaborations [pp. 34-39]Engineering Success [pp. 40-41]Kilmainham Gaol: Confronting Change [pp. 42-45]Future Challenges for the Opw [pp. 46-48]Back Matter</p></li></ul>