Conservation and Restoration of Heritage Projects

McKeon Group has worked on numerous conservation and restoration projects on heritage sites, ranging from ancient castles to historical libraries.

Ireland boasts some of the oldest architecture in Europe and in order to ensure that these structures continue to stand the test of time, sometimes it is necessary to restore them using modern techniques. These projects often require a different approach to regular refurbishment due to the structural integrity of the building, what its intended purpose is and what regulations surround it. This often means that a specialist will be sought to provide guidance and advice, ensuring that no undue damage occurs to any element.

For example, a building could feature balusters that have been present for more than one hundred years. While they have been weathered and eroded, they are still functional. Therefore, it is possible to restore them without completely removing them, allowing them to be included in the finished product.

Here we take a look at three prestigious projects that we have worked on.

 

Woodlock Hall

One of these projects involved Woodlock Hall in DCU. The restoration and fit-out of Woodlock Library, a protected structure, was a hugely important project to work on. It took place in the All Hallows campus 18th Century Senior House.

Woodlock Hall has been repurposed as a library across multiple levels inside the confines of the hall. We took special care to ensure minimal points of contact with the building. As a result, this allowed us to maintain as much of the existing structure as possible. The refurbishment also saw the restoration of bespoke features. This included the relaying of historic timber floorboards, the restoration of the original wooden paneling, timber doors, and sash windows. We also installed sustainable energy solutions, including geothermal heating. 

We feel privileged to have worked on this project that has given new life to a historic building. Plans for the restoration of Woodlock Hall began in 2018, coinciding with an agreement between the University and the Irish Jesuits in 2019. Following this, they agreed to transfer the library collection from Milltown Park into the care of DCU Library.

We undertook careful internal deconstruction of the lobby area to the front of the hall to facilitate the installation of a new multi-story lift on each floor. Housed in a glazed facade is a prefabricated metal stair system.

We collaborated with Mullarkey Pedersen Architects for this project and the works were completed in 2020. This project also landed a prestigious AAI Award.

 

St Patrick’s Water Tower

This conservation project required McKeon Group to work closely with specialists Nolan Conservation Group to ensure that all works did not damage the structure.

In order to restore this extraordinary building, we completed a full refurbishment which wrapped up in August 2022.

Since being built in 1890, this was the first full refurbishment carried out. While there had been some maintenance works including the repointing of brickwork, nothing as in-depth as our works had been completed.

This involved raking and repointing brick and stone work on the tower, refurbishing the drainage pipework, guttering and tower windows, and cleaning and repainting the existing ironwork including a spiral staircase, bell yoke, and weathervane.

We also completed the refurbishment and replacement of clay balusters, replaced the slate roof tiles on top of the tower, a full in-depth clean of the inside and outside of the tower, installed lighting pendants, and then installed a new access platform to the tower.

But our work didn’t end there as the roof also required a major rework. This included the removal of existing redundant fire escape steel stairs, refilling openings at window locations, installation of missing stone cills, and finally completing a new platform walkway over services.

 

Ardgillan Castle:

Nestled in the rolling hills of north county Dublin, Ardgillan Castle was built by the Reverend Robert Taylor in 1738. The house remained in the Taylor family until 1962 when the estate was sold to Heir Henrich Potts of Westphalia.

In 1982, the estate was sold to Fingal County Council and with the help of formerly FÁS now Solas, renovated the house. It was officially opened to the public in 1992 by then-president Mary Robinson.

For anyone unfamiliar with this popular visitor attraction, Ardgillan Castle and Demesne sits on close to 200 acres, between Balbriggan and Skerries, overlooking the Irish Sea with views northward to the Mourne Mountains. Described as Ireland’s hidden gem, the castle is a family favourite for tours, theater events, parties, and more.

McKeon Group was tasked with the repainting of ceilings and walls, joinery, and radiators on the ground and the first floor. We then completed refurbishment works on timber floors. This project involved carefully dealing with the associated antique furniture and art removals, which we then successfully reinstated.

McKeon Group is on Fingal County Council’s conservation restoration framework and have worked on a number of prestigious buildings in the locality, including Malahide Castle.

 

About Us:

With more than 70 years of experience in the construction industry, McKeon Group are capable of reaching and exceeding the goals of our clients. If you have a conservation or heritage project that you would like us to help with, contact our construction team today.

Meet the Team: Bruno Bottura, Quantity Surveyor

“Chase what you want to do – find what makes you happy.”

Meet Bruno

Bruno joined McKeon Group in 2021, bringing with him a desire to push his career to new heights.
After gaining a Civil Engineering degree and working as a Project Manager on sites in Brazil, Bruno knew that he wanted a change. While the money was good, the work wasn’t as fulfilling for him as he wanted and he knew he had to try something new.
“When I graduated college, I got a traineeship with a huge construction company. Out of 28,000 applicants, there was only 40 places and I got one. But the work was fully site-based, I was too tired and I wasn’t enjoying it. Then there was an economic crash and I lost my job for a whole year. I was really fed up. Me and my wife decided to move to Europe for a fresh start and a change of pace.”
After a brief stint in Italy, Bruno was pointed towards Ireland. Within just an hour, he had landed his first job here and while it wasn’t his dream job, it helped him to settle.
“My first job in Ireland was actually rolling burritos! Funnily enough, from the upstairs of the building I could see St Pats Water Tower which ended up being my first project with McKeon Group.”
Bruno’s last stop before beginning his work with McKeon was with a natural stone company, where he worked as an estimator. Now, he is working with us as a quantity surveyor.
 

Going Full Circle

“My first job with McKeon was at St Pats Water Tower. I couldn’t believe it, it was like going full circle! It was a building I had looked at for so long and admired. It was built in 1890 and our works were the first full refurbishment that was carried out, which was incredible to be a part of. We very rarely have buildings that old in Brazil, so it was an entirely new experience for me.”
The works at St Pats Water Tower included raking and repointing brick and stone work on the tower, refurbishing the drainage pipework, guttering and tower windows, and cleaning and repainting the existing ironwork including a spiral staircase, bell yoke, and weathervane.
Bruno also spoke of how well the building has stood up, with the eye-catching spiral staircase not needing much more than a fresh paint job to be restored. The weathervane required some welding work, but Bruno says it is “much more prominent now, it’s like a beam of light at the top of the tower.”
 

“Chase what you want to do”

While quite a lot of people in the construction industry follow the footsteps of their relatives, Bruno was the opposite. Coming from a family of lecturers, Bruno found himself drawn to the idea of construction due to the plentiful opportunities, good wages, and varied work.
He said: “For me, it was important to really enjoy what I am doing which I am with McKeon Group. During my traineeship in Brazil, we completed a lot of psychological tests that were supposed to help us find our paths. And while nobody saw me working in an office, it has become where I am happiest. You’re not bound to be something – you can be whatever you want. Ten years ago, I was all about constantly being on the go and making money but now I just want to see my kids grow up and live a quiet life.
“You need to chase what you want to do – find what makes you happy.”
 
 

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950 by Tom McKeon, McKeon Group remains a family business to this day. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fit out, and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact https://mckeon.ie.

Unveiling the restoration of St Pats Water Tower to its former glory

McKeon Group has just unveiled the restoration of St Pats Water Tower to its former glory. The work was completed in August 2022 on the Water Tower in Block D on St Patrick’s College campus, and the results are truly stunning.

It isn’t every day that you get to work on a structure that is over 200 years old. McKeon Group was honoured to work on this Dublin Landmark to restore it to its former glory. This conservation project required McKeon Group to work closely with specialists Nolan Conservation Group to ensure that all works did not damage the structure.

In order to restore this extraordinary building, we completed a full refurbishment which wrapped up in August 2022.

Since being built in 1890, this was the first full refurbishment carried out. While there had been some maintenance works including the repointing of brickwork, nothing as in-depth as our works had been completed.

This involved raking and repointing brick and stone work on the tower, refurbishing the drainage pipework, guttering and tower windows, and cleaning and repainting the existing ironwork including a spiral staircase, bell yoke, and weathervane.

We also completed the refurbishment and replacement of clay balusters, replaced the slate roof tiles on top of the tower, a full in-depth clean of the inside and outside of the tower, installed lighting pendants, and then installed a new access platform to the tower.

But our work didn’t end there as the roof also required a major rework. This included the removal of existing redundant fire escape steel stairs, refilling openings at window locations, installation of missing stone cills, and finally completing a new platform walkway over services.

Eye-catching work

Quantity Surveyor Bruno Bottura felt privileged to work on this project, which was his first conservation project since he began working with McKeon Group. Bruno moved to Ireland from Brazil five years ago and in a strange coincidence, the tower already held some significance for him.

He said: “When I started my first job in Ireland, I could see the Water Tower from the window. I loved looking at it, it’s truly a beautiful building. There’s nothing this old in Brazil, especially where I come from.”

Bruno also spoke of how well the building has stood up, with the eye-catching spiral staircase not needing much more than a fresh paint job to be restored. The weather vane required some welding work but Bruno says it is “much more prominent now, it’s like a beam of light at the top of the tower.”

McKeon group would like to especially thank all involved including Eanan O’Doherty (DCU), Cathal Crowe in OCSC, Ciaran Mullarkey in MPA, and our own team, led by Donal Molloy and Bruno Bottura.