Dublin Bay Biosphere Conference

Unchallenged, the natural world soon asserts control over the works of human kind. No longer buildings, not yet wholly a natural landscape, ruins provide a specialised environment which plays host to a wide range of flora and fauna“, Sara Ferraby, Conservation of Ruinsview-from-dublin-bay-small

Dublin Bay was designated as a biosphere by UNESCO in 2015 which comprises a core of the Tolka and Baldoyle estuaries, North Bull Island and Howth Head, Ireland’s Eye, Booterstown Marsh and Dalkey Island. Historic places and natural heritage are often Continue reading

Nano-lime repairs of historic lime mortars and plasters

Every now and then in the field of building conservation, a new treatment or solution is developed which shows great potential to solve problems. The treatments are tested under laboratory conditions to understand how they interact with materialsl, their working parameters, and sometimes how and when they fail. The next stage is application in real-life situations. Nano-limes have been around for over fifteen years, but there are relatively few technical and practical studies to draw on. This month sees the publication a case-study in the use of nano-lime technology in the Journal of the Buildings Lime Forum which considers the potential of the treatment as an alternative to repointing.Granite and lime mortar

Nano-limes are very small particles of calcium hydroxide suspended in an alcoholic medium, developed as a calcium-based consolidant and initially presented for the conservation of wall paintings and frescoes, and later extended to calcareous stones such as limestones.  Nano-limes are consolidants, and should be Continue reading

The Myths, Legends & Folklore of Historic Places

Fairy and folk tales, leprechauns, ghosts and hauntings, myths and legends form part of Irelands oral and somewhat intangible heritage. These tales were recorded by different writers at different times, and enjoyed a surge in popularity from the 19th century onwards. W.B. Yeats edited collection of Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry in 1888 & Irish Fairy Tales in 1892, Lady Gregory’s Irish Mythology in 1902, and countless other writers in the 20th and 21st centuries provided their own selections and re-tellings of mythology. One of today’s challenges is incorporating modern understandings and values of these myths with places which survive in the landscape. Whether its history, legend or folklore, identifying a particular building or feature may not be possible, as the event is associated with a broader ill-defined ‘place’. For example in Louth, the Cooley peninsula is the setting of much of the Táin Bó Cúailnge while Faughart is known as the birthplace of Saint Brigid and a battlefield where the ‘last high king of Ireland’ died, but there often isn’t a specific spot you can point to and say ‘this happened here’. Continue reading

Accessibility of Archaeological Sites & Historic Places

Historic places are a significant cultural asset, but there are barriers and challenges which make accessing some buildings and sites difficult or sometimes impossible. One of the key challenges in improving accessibility and preparing an access strategy and site-specific practicable solutions is to first assess the nature and extent of the place or places of architectural heritage and/or archaeological significance, and to identify what the challenges are. This project was focused on undertaking an accessibility audit of all the archaeological sites within a county area, to identify priority sites which could be used for education and for public awareness, and to suggest how access to those priority sites could be optimised and best presented to a general audience. Continue reading

Archaeological sources for County Sligo

Understanding the historical and/or archaeological significance of a place often entails drawing on a wide range of sources.  While national and international libraries and online resources hold an ever-increasing wealth of research material , local sources often offer a unique resource and a unique perspective on historic places. In addition to studies published for County Kildare and Fingal, and a book on the study of Irelands maritime heritage, this research project explored the range of research material relating to the archaeological heritage of County Sligo. Continue reading

La Biennale di Venezia – lateral thinking & conservation solutions

The 15th International Architecture Exhibition, under the theme ‘Reporting from the Front‘ is held in various sites in and around Venice. As with past exhibitions, though not explicit, there are strong lessons which can inform modern conservation practice in interspersed throughout provocative and interesting exhibits which explore architecture as a public good. Many of the ideas explored in the exhibit such as quality of life, sustainability, inequalities, traffic, waste, crime, pollution, communities, natural disasters and peripheries are encountered in all forms and periods of architecture, though historic buildings and monuments sometimes show greater Continue reading

Kanturk Castle, Co. Cork ~ Conservation Management Plan

The aim of this project was to prepare a draft Conservation Management Plan for Kanturk Castle, Co. Cork, an Irish Renaissance palace, on behalf of An Taisce. The plan was to consider the key conservation issues affecting the castle, and also to investigate the issues and impact of tourism development. Conservation Management Plans provide an understanding of the significance and vulnerability of a place, and provide guidelines, together with a set of specific actions for the management of that place for future generations. They aim to balance responsibilities to protect, conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of a place with active and creative policies to facilitate access and protect its significance for now and into the future. Kanturk Castle

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Potential impacts of climate change on the decay and soiling of Irish building stone

The existing literature and knowledge across many disciplines, including stone conservation and heritage management, is founded on an ability to react and adapt to changing situations, based on the knowledge and experience gained through past and current events. However, both reactive and anticipatory responses to threats to buildings are largely based on the premise that the past is the key to the future. predicted rapid changes in climatic conditions anticipated throughout the 21st century, results in a situation where past events can no longer be relied upon for driving future decision-making. Many of the established truisms and work practices of stone decay, cleaning and conservation may have to be amended, altered or abandoned when confronted with new challenges.SMDS 2000 blog 4

The existing stone conservation literature is too-often centered on understanding stone deterioration and providing appropriate solutions on a very simplisitic basis. Stone conservators are focused on solutions for ‘limestone’ problems and ‘sandstone’ problems, though these are very complex materials, containing sub-types of widely varying stone properties, durabilities, and responses to soiling and new environmental conditions. As the 21st century progresses, heritage professionals will see more complex interactions between stone decay and soiling processes and changing environmental conditions. There is a need for growing interaction between heritage professionals to respond to increasingly complex future architectural conservation problems. There will be a number of key shifts, which cannot currently be accurately quantified, but can be flagged as areas of concern. These include: Continue reading

Stone Monuments Decay Study 2000

Stone in buildings is exposed to natural patterns of weathering, varying urban conditions, a legacy of repair and change, building quirks and outside events that interact in complex in complex and sometimes unpredictable ways to produce new patterns and new rates of stone decay. Stones can also have a ‘memory’ of the legacy of structural and chemical changes it has undergone since before it was quarried – legacies which can explain why stone continues to deteriorate long after air pollution levels have improved. Further, different stones react differently to different stresses, and require different solutions. A necessary part of building the knowledge to make informed decisions to conserve stone buildings is to understand why and where stone decay can and does occur.SMDS 2000 blog 2

The aim of this stone conservation research project was to gather information on the degree of degradation and erosion of stone monuments in the Republic of Ireland dating from the Neolithic through to the nineteenth century. The study examined 112 archaeological monuments in 14 counties, identifying and assessing the most significant forms of decay and impacts to stone monuments based on factual up-to-date information gathered through fieldwork and laboratory analysis. The archaeological monument types dated from the Neolithic to the nineteenth century and included megalithic tombs, cashels, Anglo-Norman castles, medieval tower houses, post-medieval buildings, and ecclesiastical heritage including churches, abbeys, round towers, high crosses and a range of smaller stone monuments including crosses, a cursing stone, leachta and grave slabs.SMDS 2000 blog 3

The most significant results and conclusions of the study are: Continue reading