Excellence Awards Spotlight: Heritage and Conservation Award

Excellence Awards Spotlight: Heritage and Conservation Award

16 October 2019 at 11:29

The Excellence Awards Spotlight series aims to showcase and celebrate each engineering project, organisation, third level institute and engineering leader shortlisted for the 10th annual Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards, held in association with ESB.

Today, we celebrate the engineering initiatives and organisations shortlisted for the Heritage and Conservation Award, sponsored by the OPW.  This award acknowledges the contribution of the engineering profession in protecting the built environment by preserving or restoring a building or location of historic importance.

Congratulating those shortlisted, Maurice Buckley, OPW Chairman and Vice President of Engineers Ireland, said: “I would like to extend my congratulations to each of the organisations shortlisted for the Heritage and Conservation Award and to all those shortlisted for awards. We are proud to sponsor an award category that acknowledges the contribution of the engineering profession in protecting the built environment and that promotes excellence in conserving  historic properties and protected structures.  I look forward to making the winners announcement at the Excellence Awards ceremony on 15 November.”

Projects shortlisted for the 2019 Heritage and Conservation Award, sponsored by the OPW, are:

Swords Castle – East Tower Consolidation by Fingal County Council, David Kelly Partnership and CORA Consulting Engineers


Swords Castle is a complex of early and late medieval remains. It is a National Monument and a site of national cultural significance under the care of Fingal County Council.

Since 2013 a multi-disciplinary team of conservation engineers, archaeologists and architects have been carrying out conservation works under National Monument Ministerial Consent 450.

One of the major conservation challenges was the consolidation of the East Tower. The overall stability of the ruins was a matter of concern considering the pronounced lean on the tower, extensive cracking, and surface erosion of the Dublin calp limestone. Following the removal of vegetation temporary propping was installed. The permanent solution was developed and implemented in the most recent works phase.

The unique design solution the team devised combined modern methods alongside traditional to conserve as much of the medieval fabric as possible. An honestly-expressed, functional concrete plate ties the three remaining walls together and a traditional lime-based shelter coat protects the vulnerable masonry. The visual impact is striking, clearly differentiating the new insertion from the original, as well being respectful of the historic setting.


Kilmallock West Wall Walkway by Limerick City and County Council


Kilmallock is a remarkably intact medieval walled town. The western defences are particularly impressive. Protection of the monuments, their enhancement and exposure within the public realm have been key drivers for Limerick City & County Council since 2008. The Local Authority worked throughout the project with Jack O’Leary, Conservation Engineer, Malachy Walsh & Partners. The project was achieved over a ten-year period and included 8 separate conservation projects (largely funded by the Irish Walled Towns Network/Heritage Council) and land acquisitions culminating in the consolidation of 544m of masonry wall & the construction of a 526m pathway through a 3½ acre park on the exterior of the defences. The engineering challenge was to respect the historic construction methodologies while, at the same time, to bring modern construction know how to the project. The engineering inputs included structural assessment, design of temporary propping works, grouting, flaunching, pointing and local rebuilding. The consolidation of the wall achieved the difficult delicate balance of making a sometimes-fragile monument structurally stable while respecting and maintaining its antiquity.

Cork Courthouse “Model School”, Anglesea Street, Cork by Malachy Walsh & Partners  Civil & Structural Engineers


The Cork Model School was constructed in 1862 and is an iconic building adjacent to Cork City Hall. Pitched roofs are capped by red clay cockscomb ridge tiles. External brick walls include sawtooth limestone eaves on brick brackets with finials to gables. At roof level, gabled roof vents, decorative brick chimneys with sawtooth limestone caps compliment the detailing of the main elevations. The striking Italianite building facilitated primary and maritime schools, and its 18m tower was used as an observation point for shipping coming to Cork quays.

In conjunction with other project team members, Malachy Walsh & Partners researched, designed and supervised the refurbishment works using best practice conservation techniques which included re-using all serviceable ridge tiles and roof slates, and replacement of up to 50% of ‘modern’ fa├žade brickwork with carefully selected natural brickwork and lime pointing. Works included rebuilding sections of gable walls, underpinning, structural stitch repairs and intricate bespoke repairs to sections of original main timber roof trusses. Great care was taken to ensure that supplementary materials reflected the original materials to bring the building back to its original condition.

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens by O’Connor Sutton Cronin & Associates (Belfast) Ltd


Hillsborough Castle, a beautiful late Georgian mansion set in 100 acres of idyllic grounds today is a working royal palace functioning as an official residence of the Royal Family and the secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

Historic Royal Palaces became the estate’s new management in 2014 led a major refurbishment programme in a bid to make this Grade B+ listed property more accessible to the public. This £20m redevelopment utilised the site’s unique heritage, increased accessibility, provided an additional 800 parking spaces, conserved historic features such as the estate buildings, walled gardens and created new water features, footbridges and board walks. It also included the restoration of the Upper Stable block, creation of new visitor facilities, retail space, and an estates operation base. 

This complex project required the expertise of 71 companies to achieve the massive restoration works involved. O’Connor Sutton Cronin & Associates (Belfast) Ltd (OCSC) provided Civil and Structural Engineering Services for this prestigious project. OCSC and the design team worked closely with Historic Royal Palaces and Historic Environmental Division ensuring they met all guidelines and standards.

The Heritage and Conservation Award is one of 13 award categories which will be presented at the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards on Friday, 15 November at the InterContinental Hotel, Dublin.

To view each shortlisted category in detail and to vote for the Engineering Project of the Year Award, visit: http://www.engineersireland.ie/Awards.aspx