With less than 11 months to go before the Cathedral is set to reopen, all hands are on deck to ensure that the deadline is met.
Working on the project under master plasterer George O’Malley, Longford woman Tina Brogan took some time out to speak to the Leader about her role in the Cathedral restoration, and how it feels to be one of the only women working on the project.
“I’m an apprentice stucadoor, learning to model, cast and fix enrichments, learning to lathe and plaster,” Tina explains.
“It’s an absolute honour to be working and tutored by George O’Malley, one of the most prestigious plasterers in Ireland, if not Europe.”
Tina met George through a previous employment. It was then that he offered her a position on the team for the restoration. Tina sent in her CV and following an interview was offered the job.
“It’s a great opportunity to be working on the Cathedral that has meant so much to the people of Longford since famine times,” Tina continues. “It’s everything I dreamed of it being.”
As one of the few women to have worked on the project, Tina doesn’t feel that her gender is an issue.
“In Ireland today, women work as engineers, HGV drivers and several other occupations that in the past was the territory of ment. In a nutshell, being a woman is not an issue,” the local woman explains.
“When a woman chooses to work in a male environment, she must be on the level with men and not expect to be carried. For example, if plaster needs lifting or water needs carrying, etc, my advice is to get on with it. You have to earn your place in the team on merit!”
Having made her First Holy Communion in the Cathedral, Ballinalee-based Tina hopes that when the time comes, her own children will return to make their communion.
“I hope they can come here and observe the work that I’ve done.”
Working closely under the wing of George O’Malley, Tina started off with sticking enrichments.
Though she has already learned a lot since beginning in January, Tina is excited learn more as she continues her work on the Cathedral. “George has over forty years’ experience. I’m so excited being here and being a part of George’s team.”
Looking ahead, Tina hopes that working with the O’Malley Plastering will lead to a “bright future”.
“They had a desire to have local people in fifty years time to show their grandkids the work.”
Tina also explains that as part of George’s team, they adhere to a certain dress code, wearing a shirt and tie at work. Tina, herself sporting the obligatory shirt and tie, explains that this is “not only because George is a very particular man, but also it’s a mark of respect to the trade.”
Previous to her work on the Cathedral, Tina also did painting and decorating, and has just completed two years of horticulture.
“I have a very artistic personality and I’m creative in all aspects of life” the Longford woman explained, adding that though she has travelled to and lived in different countries, “to be back here and have a job so artistically creative is fantastic.”
Tina explains that she has always gone for non-conventional jobs, and has always been artistic, which is “why, overnight, I fell in love with this work and why I take it so seriously.”
She also acknowledges that it is wonderful to work on such an exciting project on her doorstep.
“With the level of unemployment in Longford, I feel so blessed to have this opportunity so close to hand,” Tina says.
When asked if there are advantages and disadvantages as a local person working on such an historic project, Tina simply answers; “Advantages all the way. Disadvantages – I’d really just be making them up!”