Restoration work unveiled at Barracks

Hats off! Some of the workers involved in the restoration work celebrate the opening of the revamped facilities at Connolly Barracks. Photo: Shelley Corcoran
The restoration of two cottages at Connolly Barracks by trainees on the ground-breaking Traditional Skills course has been unveiled.

The restoration of two cottages at Connolly Barracks by trainees on the ground-breaking Traditional Skills course has been unveiled.

The trainees on the Traditional Skills Programme displayed their work to a very appreciative audience at the Barracks and then at the EDI Centre’s workshop last Thursday.

“The Traditional Skills Programme has been closely monitored by the Heritage Council who have been concerned for some time about lack of training here in Ireland,” Pat Kelleher, EDI Centre said. “A working group has been established and I want to take the opportunity to thank Sweeney Architects and the tutors. It is the commitment of the trainees that has made this programme an outstanding success and the wonderful restoration work here at the Barracks is testament to that.”

Mr Kelleher went on to highlight the importance of securing the course permanently here in the county. “We hope that the success in establishing this training and national recognition does not result in the setting up of a more permanent centre in some other county,” added. “We look forward to immediate discussion and consultation with all relevant authorities in our endeavours to achieve continuation and expansion of Traditional Skills Training to include traditional crafts etc, here in Co Longford. This is an unique opportunity to build on the success of this programme and establish Longford as centre for traditional and conservation training.”

The programme includes training in stonework and the conservation of stone, lime plastering and harling, decorative plasterwork, natural slating, leadwork including bossing and welding, scagliola and most recently thatching. “All tutors are craftspeople within their field and include Pat McAfee, Stonemason and author of many books including Irish Stone Walls, Stone Buildings and Lime Works, while Kevin Holbrook, Decorative Plasterwork has been featured on a number of TV programmes and has contributed to many books on the subject matter.”

This unique training programme was developed by Longford Revamp Homes Ltd and funded by LCRL under the Rural Development Programme (RDP). Sweeney Architects was subsequently contracted for delivery, and all trainees will receive a National Progression Award in the Conservation of Masonry which is recognised by the National Qualification Authority of Ireland as a Fetac Level 5. There is a demand for people with these types of skills,” concluded Mr Kelleher.