WORKS on transforming a former church into a community, tourism and enterprise hub in Macroom are progressing well, following work to prevent the protected building from falling into further disrepair, a meeting recently heard.
Raymond Higgins, senior executive architect with Cork County Council, gave a presentation to councillors from the Macroom Municipal District on the project at the former St Colman’s Church on Castle Street.
The church is set to boast a viewing tower as well as creating a flexible space for exhibitions and recitals.
The building was gifted to the town by the Church of Ireland in 1992 and the planned transformation of the building is being funded under the Historic Towns Initiative by The Heritage Council.
It will mark an exciting chapter for Macroom as other public realm works will also set the tone for a new re-imagined town centre.
Mr Higgins told councillors that the freestanding double-height Gothic-revival church was built in 1835 and is a protected structure.
He said the focus of the project was on emergency conservation works to tackle the essential maintenance and safeguard the building from falling into further disrepair. He added that this high quality conservation project came in on budget and on time. Some of the works undertaken included roof repairs, structural repair to the tower, protection to stained glass windows, the removal of vegetation and the repair of rainwater goods.
Cllr Gobnait Moynihan (FF) welcomed the fact that the building is now sealed and watertight following the conservation works.
‘More money needs to be spent in order to make it a usable and functional space but even with the limited amount of work done, this building looks so much better. It will be a great tourism attraction for Macroom, especially the fact that people will be able to go up on the tower to view the whole town,’ said Cllr Moynihan.
Councillors were told that a Heritage Council grant of €215,847 was received for the project, while a Cork County Council grant was also attained.
Mr Higgins said the main focus of the works was to tackle the external elements of the tower and roof of the building.
A fibreglass roof on the tower was finally completed, which will act as a viewing tower for people. Other works completed include stonework on the main building as well as limestone steps to the entrance and a temporary door entrance.
The curved roof of the extension to the rear of the church had deteriorated so slates and the ridge capping were replaced. The curved cast iron gutter and downpipe were also repaired or replaced.
Other restoration works were carried out on the main entrance porch while a live public demonstration was given by the design team and contractor on the sensitive works taking place on the building as part of National Heritage Week last year.
Cllr Ted Lucey (FG) also welcomed the works on protecting the structure and said the next step now is to secure funding to complete the rest of the building.
Cllr Eileen Lynch (FG) said she was delighted to see that the emergency conservation works were now complete. ‘This is a really positive time for Macroom,’ she added.