Kevin Blackwood (MRIAI) reflects on the refurbishment of St. Mary’s

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Excerpt from article

As we now celebrate the completion of what has been a very exciting and interesting project of refurbishment over the past six years, it is certainly worthwhile setting out in some detail what has been done in this very beautiful church.

St Mary’s was founded in 1839. It started off as a single aisled structure with earthen floors; over the next seventy years it rapidly increased in size and stature to become more or less what you see today and, indeed, it was regarded as the second most important church in Dublin after the pro Cathedral, several auxiliary bishops having resided and served as parish priests here.

It is indeed a wonderful building with its cut-stone facades; it’s beautiful tower with its external ornamentation of gargoyles and pinnacles, which can be seen from many parts of the south city, as well a its stained glass windows some of which are quite wonderful as are several of the other internal features.

Despite maintenance over the years the church was in need of serious repair work. There was water ingress into the fabric of the building; slates were falling as were bits of masonry. These issues had to be addressed immediately and a programme of roof repair was initiated. On opening up the roof it was also found that the main beam over the sanctuary was in a perilous state and in need of the most urgent repair to avoid collapse.

As part of the roofing work we repaired the pointing at the top of the tower and carried out stone repairs to the wonderful gargoyles and also cleaned the west façade. Dry rot was also a problem; fortunately due to the excellence of craftspeople we were able to carry out the repairs in situ thus not endangering the stained glass.

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