THE cost of restoring one of the oldest inhabited buildings in Ennis, which features a rare Jacobean stone chimney, has been estimated at €230,000.
McParland’s premises on Chapel Lane/Parnell Street, is a protected structure as defined in the Ennis and Environs Development Plan.
In November 2009 a dangerous structure notice was issued by Ennis Town Council and measures were taken to prevent parts of the building collapsing.
However, Councillor Paul O’Shea, at a recent meeting of Ennis Town Council, requested that the local authority remove the scaffolding that was erected at the site.
“This is having a detrimental effect on both retail and businesses in Chapel Lane,” he said.
“Businesses there are drastically affected, people are not coming down Chapel Lane because they are afraid something will come down on them. To have this going on for 18 months is unacceptable.”
Responding to Councillor O’Shea, town clerk Eddie Power explained that the building was recommended for inclusion as a protected structure by the Minister for the Environment following a survey that gave the building a regional rating of importance.
“The building is also a historic monument within the historic town centre of Ennis. The rare triple diamond Jacobean stone chimney and chimney breast not only dates the building to the period 1580-1650 but indicates the date of construction of the street, as similar chimneys existed on nearby buildings into the late 20th century.
“It is likely that McParland’s is the oldest inhabited, until 2009, building in Ennis, certainly the oldest in its almost original unaltered state.”
He stated that the building is in private ownership and work had commenced in 2009 on the restoration of the building with the support of heritage grant funding.
“In November 2009 it became apparent following an inspection that the gable wall of the building, including the stone triple-diamond Jacobean chimney stack, was in a dangerous condition. Accordingly, the council served a dangerous structure notice and measures were taken by the contractor on site to prevent the collapse of the gable wall and chimney,” he said.
“The restoration and conservation of this structure requires significant investment. The council has been in contact with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in an effort to secure funding.
“The conservation experts have indicated that the estimated cost of restoring the building is €230,000.
“This cost is based on completely demolishing the medieval chimney and rebuilding it, repairing it, repairing the roof, windows and external fabric, repairing the internal floors, walls, ceilings and stairs.”
Councillor O’Shea asked when the estimate had been received, to which Mr Power replied the middle of last year.
“We could get a new tender, building costs have dropped substantially since then,” he suggested.
Town manager Ger Dollard stated that he believed the estimates received were “quite conservative”.
“This is a very important building and our priority issue is this building needs to be safe.
“We cannot give a timescale for when the work will be done; it’s not our building.
“But we are trying to get the issue resolved and we have been in discussions with the department. It is our intention to bring this to a conclusion but a series of matters have to be addressed.”
Councillor Johnny Flynn commented that the scaffolding was stopping tourists walking down Chapel Lane while Councillor Peter Considine raised concerns that the restoration work would involve demolishing the chimney.
“Once its demolished, it loses its authenticity,” he said.