€700,000 fund to protect historic buildings in Dublin

More than 1,000 days of work provided in capital through built heritage scheme

A conservation research officer for Dublin City Council in a 1664 house on Aungier Street, Dublin, that is being restored. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

A conservation research officer for Dublin City Council in a 1664 house on Aungier Street, Dublin, that is being restored. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 06:42

A bank, pub, 12 churches and more than 50 houses are among the historic Dublin buildings to benefit this year from a €700,000 conservation fund.

The Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme is the first fund in four years available to owners of protected structures to carry out essential repairs to their properties.

Until 2010 funding of up to €20,000 was available under the national conservation grants scheme to a building owner to carry out work to prevent endangerment of the structure. In 2010 Dublin City Council was allocated €622,000 to distribute under the scheme.

The following year the scheme was scrapped and replaced by a structures-at-risk fund. Under this, money was given to local authorities only to save just one or two buildings in their county that were at serious structural risk.

Emergency repairs

Dublin City Council secured €80,000 and made emergency repairs to just one building, Aldborough House on Portland Row, an 18th-century mansion that had sustained considerable water damage due to the theft of roof lead.

The new built heritage fund administered by the Department of Arts and Heritage will operate similarly to the conservation grants. A total fund of €689,000 has been made available for Dublin city with individual properties receiving €2,500 to €15,000 for the repair and conservation work. The applicants must match the grant with their own money.

The new scheme puts emphasis on job creation, particularly in the specialist craft and construction sector.

Grants were allocated to 74 projects in Dublin city and by the end of June more than 1,000 days of work had been given to those involved in restoring and repairing the buildings.

Just three of the projects are nearing completion and so considerably more employment is expected to be generated through the scheme.

The projects include the Swan Bar on the corner of Aungier Street and York Street which has already undergone considerable restoration after damage sustained during the severe winter of 2010, and has now been given funding for window repairs.

Quite a recent building to secure funds is the former Munster Leinster bank in Inchicore built in the 1940s, which is undergoing repairs to its exterior.

Watertight

Roof repairs draw the greatest level of funding as making buildings watertight is vital to their protection. Funding has been given for work to the roofs of the Abbey Presbyterian Church, Parnell Square, St Ann’s Church, Dawson Street, the stables of Drimnagh Castle, Walmer Villa at St Francis Hospice in Raheny, and the The Royal Irish Academy Of Music on Westland Row.

The level of funding available this year was thanks to the sale of the National Lottery to Camelot, but it is not know what, if any funding will be available next year.

The council’s Conservation Research Officer Carl Raftery said the scheme was essential to prevent heritage buildings from falling into serious disrepair.

“Previously we dealt with owners of historic buildings at risk though enforcement notices. The grants allow us to engage with them in a more positive way that is far more likely to see work getting done to the buildings.”

The grants also ensured craft repair skills were maintained, as well as allowing the council to gain information about historic buildings through the inspection process which is part of the scheme, Ms Raftery said.

“It’s so important that there is funding for owners of these properties. There is a huge amount of labour and skill involved, and a huge amount we can learn,” she said.