Fire risk ‘inevitable’ in restoration of 800-year-old St Patrick’s Cathedral

Fire safety review ordered ahead of roof renovation following blaze that badly damaged Notre Dame in Paris

Earlier this week, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin expressed concern that some Irish churches could face the same fate as Notre Dame.  File photograph: iStock Photo/Getty Images

Earlier this week, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin expressed concern that some Irish churches could face the same fate as Notre Dame. File photograph: iStock Photo/Getty Images

 

Fire risks will be inevitable during a major restoration of the 800-year-old St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin due to start within months, an expert overseeing the works has warned.

A fire safety review has been ordered ahead of the biggest renovation in 150 years at the church following the blaze that badly damaged Notre Dame in Paris.

Works to replace the roof of St Patrick’s Cathedral is expected to begin later this year, in what will be the largest repair and restoration it has seen since the 1860s.

John Beauchamp, conservation architect overseeing the €8.5 million project, said he believed “human error” was behind the destruction of Notre Dame and that a review of practices at St Patrick’s was ongoing.

“We have of course immediately reviewed the contract that we have developed for the replacement of the roof,” he said.

Mr Beauchamp said it was a sophisticated construction project, expected to take two years, with constraints and particular requirements which made fire risks “inevitable”.

All those involved have been warned to be “very vigilant” about safety and fire security, he said.

Mr Beauchamp said human error has “probably caused the outcome” at Notre Dame.

“We have sophisticated fire protection measures in place for controlling the way contractors carry out work . . . we see no reason why we should not carry on.”

Same fate

Earlier this week, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin expressed concern that some Irish churches could face the same fate as Notre Dame.

“This is the thing that worries me in our churches. We have many old churches here, there is a lot of wood in our churches, there are serious problems of fire risks,” he said.

“We constantly have the fire authorities come and look at our churches. There are lots of, not only important artworks but, if you go around small, local churches, there are things that are important in the history of a locality and there is always a danger they could be damaged or stolen.

“The maintenance of many of these buildings is a real challenge.”