OPW - Conserving and extending the life of the surviving historic decorative plasterwork at Ormonde Castle

10 August 16

The Office of Public Works has confirmed today (10 August 2016) that it is making good progress with the ongoing conservation work it is undertaking at Ormonde Castle in Carrick on Suir and confirmed plans for the future tourism potential of the site.

Since Ormonde Castle came into State care in 1947, various phases of work have been undertaken at the site to conserve and restore the fabric of what is one of Ireland’s finest Elizabethan Manor Houses. These previous programmes of works have staved off the worst potential damage to the structure but, in recent years, problems with damp penetration were found to have damaged the mechanical and electrical systems and compromised the remaining historic decorative plasterwork.

Due to the recent problems of water ingress, the Office of Public Works made the decision to carry out major works on the structure to ensure the survival of this historic decorative plasterwork and at the same time, take the opportunity to up-grade the electrical, mechanical, fire and security systems, undertake minor roof repairs and refurbish guide and visitor facilities.

This phase of the works, which is now close to completion, will facilitate the breathability and flexibility required for such a structure, and ensure the survival of Ormonde Castle’s unique historic decorative plasterwork for many years to come.  The work on the building is expected to be complete by mid-2017 following which it is expected to be reopened to the public.  In tandem with the building project however, with the support of Failte Ireland, a new Interpretative exhibition for the site will be commissioned to tell its story to visitors over the years in a new and exciting way.  This will position the Carrick on Suir site as a key offering within Ireland’s Ancient East and will open the way for new developments at the site including things like plays, performances and other public events.  The hope of Failte Ireland and OPW is that the newly presented and restored Castle will prove an irresistible draw to visitors to the South East and will ensure that many more tourists come to the area and stay longer enjoying its many attractions.

-ENDS-

For more information, please contact OPW Press Office at 046 942 6517

Notes to Editors:

The Castle was mainly built between the 14th and mid-16th centuries.  The Elizabethan manor house itself, situated at the northern end of the site, was built by Thomas, the 10th Earl of Ormonde in the 1560s. Closely integrated into the manor house are two 15th century towers and the building is Ireland's only major unfortified dwelling from that turbulent period.  Ormonde Castle has the finest early examples of historically important, decorative plasterwork in Ireland.  The interior of the manor contains some very fine examples, dating from between 1565 and 1575, a unique survival in Ireland.  The work currently being undertaken will revitalise the Castle and make it ready for a new and exciting phase.

Ormonde Castle is a very old building and needs a great deal of very specialised care and attention.  In the past, most of our much-loved stone buildings, including Ormonde Castle, were plastered.  How do we know this?  The stones used to build the walls of Ormonde are of poor quality and were not intended to be seen, or expected to be the final protection against the weather.  This is further supported by the presence of “dressed” stone elements – especially around windows and other architectural features, that are of a quality and finish intended to be shown.  Surviving plaster can be seen today on the earlier towers as well as on the Manor House.  Samples of this plaster were taken and tested and the current project is being carried out using a plaster mix not unlike the mix which was used originally.