In 2023 we were delighted to be able to have some much needed heritage maintenance works carried out thanks to a number of funding supports. Given the nature of our resident companies, and their purposes and means, we have had to keep a tight budget over the years on our expenses budget.
Following a condition report prepared last year John Hegarty of Fourem Architects, which was commissioned by Cork City Council, it became clear that despite the general good condition of the building there were a number of quite urgent maintenance issues to be taken care of. The council quickly stepped in with some smaller urgent repairs including the acroprop securing of a lath and plaster ceiling and other plaster repairs, but almost at the top of the list of priorities was our much-admired but chillingly draughty windows.
Expert skills were needed to address the weathering of the many windows in the house, and to halt water ingress via the chimneys and a limestone cill. These are the first major works since the building was restored a quarter of a century ago.
The front windows are reproduction early Georgian windows and hadn’t had a lick of paint since their first and were by this January showing signs of decay. They were also completely unsealed and we have for years been sticking polythene up over them every winter in a rather pathetic attempt to reduce draughts. The windows at the back are a mix of ages, the most impressive and by this year most deteriorated, were the Victorian stained glass windows on the first landing and the stunning Georgian large window (pictured above) on the second stair landing.
We set about assessing the work that needed to be done, with the generous help of Oisin Creagh of Design Forum Architects got stuck into applying for funding to help us meet the costs, applying for portions of the cost from every fund we could find, with the aim of completing the work over a number of years. We were rewarded for our efforts with grants from no less than four sources which has allowed us to complete the project this year.
The works were carried out under the expert supervision of David Higgins of Queenstown Restoration. Joinery repairs on the windows were made in situ by David ‘Dotsy‘ O’Connell of Cobh, making use of the long dry June to work outside and limit mess! Already our workers are noticing a substantial reduction in noise when the windows are closed which bodes well for a warmer, more sustainable winter. The house has been given a beautiful fresh face and we are very much hoping to feel the benefits over the winter of much less draughts whistling around us.
It is really important to us to acknowledge the following funders without whom none of this work could have been possible:
The Heritage Council’s Community Heritage Grant Scheme is open to community groups and not for profit non-governmental organisations around the country for projects aimed at improving access and inclusion to heritage sites, and that apply good heritage practice to the management of places, collections, or objects (including buildings). Thank you to the Heritage Council for supporting us through the Community Heritage Grant scheme.
The Built Heritage Investment Scheme is run by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in association with the local authorities, in this case Cork City Council. The scheme assists owners of heritage structures to meet their obligations to care for their properties by providing match-funded grants. Thank you to the Built Heritage Investment Scheme.
Cork City Council’s own Architectural Conservation Area Scheme assists the owners of historic buildings in the 42 ACAs across Cork City to undertake works necessary to secure their conservation e.g. repairs of windows, doors, roofs and chimneys, gutters, railings and shopfronts. As one of the iconic buildings in the Shandon Architectural Conservation Area we are delighted to benefit, thank you Cork City Council.
Last but by no means least we were excited to establish a relationship with the Irish Georgian Society who committed funds specifically for that very special large Georgian window on the second floor landing. They have also kindly stepped forward when a stone mason repairing one of our limestone cills spotted that urgent work is needed on the beautiful swan necked pedestal over the front door and we look forward to seeing that work completed soon too, thanks to the Irish Georgian Society.