St Mary's TBSTS evaluation summary February 2015

Kilkenny County Council

Traditional Building Skills Training Scheme 2014


Shee Mausoleum St Marys Kilkenny Before




Kilkenny County Council was selected as a pilot local authority for the Traditional Building Skills Training Scheme 2014 (TBSTS) by Department of Arts Heritage & the Gaeltacht in March 2014.

It was decided to split the available funding over 2 projects at the following locations:

1. St.Mary’s Church & Graveyard, Kilkenny City

2. St.Nicholas Church, Newtown, Jerpoint, Co.Kilkenny.




The St.Mary’s TBSTS Training programme was based on the collaboration between Kilkenny County Council & WIT BSc in Applied Conservation course with a group of 15 students The training was to take place in conjunction with the main contract church restoration/extension project at St.Mary’s. Due to the delay in commencement of the main contract work at the church building however, the programme was amended and training took place in the graveyard in advance of the main building project from early October 2014 on a weekly basis for the WIT trainees, with the focus on the boundary walls. This programme continued until the end of January 2015.


Project Completion & Evaluation

While the original training plan was altered due to changes in the main project construction programme, the revised training programme has proven very successful. As well as benefitting from good practical on-site experience, the trainees have gained a great insight into a complex, challenging and extremely varied conservation project through lectures & demonstrations which gives them an understanding of a “real project” which will be far reaching and be of great value in their future careers.

Evelyn Graham, Project Liaison Architect/Conservation Officer managed the project in close consultation with WIT course tutors. Great support and practical assistance was provided by a number of staff in Kilkenny County Council in terms of provision/delivery of materials & tools to site, erection of the protective shelter on site as well as the provision of refreshments and welfare facilities to the trainees and tutors. The lectures were held in the magnificent surroundings of the adjacent Council Chamber of the historic Tholsel which was generously made available to the group for the full course of the training project. Nessa Roche, Architectural Advisor for DAHG was a guest speaker on 19th November and was also on site to offer advice to the trainees as practical works to the wall progressed.

Method of advertising and recruiting trainees

· Publicised on the WIT website as a part of the BSc. in Applied Conservation course

· Paid advertisement on the regular Kilkenny County Council page on the Kilkenny People

· Public relations statement released through the Kilkenny People

· Publicised through KKCC Website & via the Kilkenny Heritage Forum


Start and finish date of project

  • Training commenced on 8th October 2014
  • Training finished on 28th January 2015
  • Follow-up site visit for students on 14th April 2015.

Skills levels of trainees prior to engaging in the training project

· The skills levels of all the trainees met the structured system of entry for the BSc. in Applied Conservation course.

· Trades people who hold the National Craft Certificate Qualification and eligible CPD applicants were considered, dependant on experience and qualifications.

· All 15 students met the entry requirement. However, not all were trades-people.

Type of training engaged in

· A combination of lectures by members of the current design team:

o Niall McCullough, McCullough Mulvin Architects

o Peter Cox & John Beattie, Carrig Conservation

o Claire Walsh, Archaeological Projects

and other professionals associated with St.Mary’s:

o Evelyn Graham, Kilkenny County Council Project Liaison Architect

o Cóilín Ó Drisceoil, Kilkenny Archaeology leader of the Shee Mausoleum Restoration project

  • Workshops/demonstrations on site:

o Lisa Edden & Pat McAfee on use of building limes & hot lime

o Peter Cox, Building Fabric examination, assessment of materials & treatment

· Practical on-site training: raking out & re-pointing section of wall

Fulfilment of learning outcomes (attainment of skills acquisition objectives)

All the learning outcomes, as laid out in the WIT CE2 Submission Course document for the course, were met.

· Material analysis of sand & lime.

· Hot Lime demonstration and use.

  • Wall preparation.

· Cutting out of existing mortar.

  • Care of organic matter.

· Different pointing styles and applications.

· Application of new mortars.

· Care and protection of finished applications.

· Health and safety issues all applied to.

Relevant course material provided to students:


o Archaeological reports, historical reports/photos & presentation

· CARRIG CONSERVATION Peter Cox & John Beattie

o Monuments Protection & Cleaning Methodology

o Plaster & Paint Analysis

o Mortar Analysis

o Presentations


o Drawings

o Reports

o Presentations


o Shee Mausoleum Restoration pack

o Graveyard Survey & reports

o Presentation


o Part 8 Planning Pack

o Co. Manager’s report


o Dendrochronology report

o Roof timber detailed survey

o Tower fabric detailed survey

o Asbestos report



Summary of building repairs engaged in and the contribution of the trainees to these repairs

· The cutting out and repointing repairs engaged in by the ACS trainees was carried out to an extremely high standard. Extra care was taken in cutting the existing mortar from the stonework, and with guidance from the lecturers and two of the group’s masonry students, Brian and Joe, and no damage was made to the existing stonework.

· The repointing was undertaken in the same professional manner. Batching of the mortar, mixing for a minimum period and all works covered and protected after each working session.

· The level of care and professional attitude from a mainly non-trade group was extremely rewarding from a teaching perspective.



1. Site Induction: Awareness of sensitivity of the building fabric and the graveyard

2. Project overview

Evelyn Graham, Project Liaison Architect KKCC:

Project overview

Aine Doyle,

Conservation Officer KKCC:

Planning & Conservation issues


1. Site/building investigations Conservation techniques Identification of materials

2. Archaeology for main project in former Chancel & North aisle

3. Tour of site

Peter Cox, Carrig Conservation ConsultantsClaire Walsh, Archaeological Projects

1. “Intervention & change” Lecture on design, conservation & re- development of St.Mary’s

2. Restoration of Shee Mausoleum & history of site

3. Site inspection

Niall McCullough, Director McCullough Mulvin Architects, Lead consultant.Cóilín Ó Drisceoil, Kilkenny Archaeology.

1. Practical workshops on exemplar wall panels

2. Focus on conservation techniques & materials

WIT Course Tutors:

Terry Prenderville

Ian O’Neill

Michael White

Evelyn Graham

1. Practical workshops continued including “Hot Lime” demonstration

2. Re-pointing

Patrick McAfee,

Stone Mason & Instructor

Lisa Edden,

Conservation Engineer,

Building Limes Forum of Ireland.


1. Practical workshops continued

2. Review of works to date

WIT Course TutorsNessa Roche Architectural Advisor DAHG

1. Practical workshops continued

2. Conservation, relocation & storage of monuments & inspection of Monuments Room

WIT Course Tutors


John Beattie, Carrig Conservation

Evelyn Graham


1. Practical workshops continued

2. Review of works to date

3. Site visit to Evans Home with Evelyn

WIT Course TutorsEvelyn Graham, Project Liaison Architect for St.Mary’s & Evans Home projects
907.01.15Practical workshop: RepointingWIT Course TutorsEvelyn Graham
1014.01.15Practical workshop: RepointingWIT Course TutorsEvelyn Graham

1. Lecture on the chemistry of building fabric, cleaning, materials behaviour

2. On site examination

3. Review of completed work

WIT Course Tutors

Sharon O’Brien, A/Head of School of Architecture

Peter Cox,

Carrig Conservation

Evelyn Graham

1228.01.15Workshop and discussion at WIT about the collaboration at St Mary's as the pilot for the traditional skills programme.

Student presentations:

Dan Lenehan

Marie Wilgaard Kelly

Alex Panteleyenko

Nessa Roche

Evelyn Graham

Sharon O’Brien


Hot Lime Mortars and PointingWorkshop 12th November 2014
Patrick McAfee, StonemasonLisa Edden, Structural Engineer
09.30IntroductionWelcome and outline of programme

PPE, Eye protection

All participants to bring safety glasses, work boots, high vis jacket/coat/vest, safety helmet, work boots and gloves

09.50MaterialsDescription of materials, look at site

Flora and fauna habitats


Bats, birds, insects, fish, protected species of flora and fauna. Ivy growth

Philosophy of approach


Deciding when to point. Removal or not of existing sand and cement pointing/renders etc



Visual, identification of mortar types including hot lime mortars and clay. Taking a sample for testing in order to replicate. Tests (discussion of) lime content, lime type, lime:sand ratio, capillary, crystallisation, absorption, sieve analysis. Introduction to clay tests
10.40PreparationSelective raking out, depth and profile of raking, dampening

Discussion of various mix types including NHL, hot lime and hybrid mixes. Clay mixes

Batching materials, mixing by hand, water content

11.10ApplicationPointing methodology

Optimum time for finishing

Finishing techniques

12.00After-careDampening etc
12.15ProtectionCovers/insulation, rain, frost, sun, wind
12.20Wall basesWash out at wall bases, undermining of foundations
12.40Wall topsPointing methodology and repairs to wall tops
13.00Local repairs-missing stonesReplacement of individual stones and repairs to minor collapse of wall faces. Rough racking

Summary, Questions &



A final return visit was arranged for the students on 14th April 2015 to review progress since work had commenced on site. The main contractor, Duggan Brothers & in particular the site manager, Paddy Byrne generously accommodated the students on site for the full morning with a comprehensive review of works progress including the following:


TBSTS at St. Mary's Church, Kilkenny
Programme for return site visit for students on Applied Building Conservation Skills BSc Course
Paddy ByrneSite ManagerDuggan Bros. Contractors Ltd.

Evelyn Graham

Francis Coady

Project Liaison Architect

Clerk of Works

Kilkenny County Council

Kilkenny County Council

Ian O’Neill & Terry PrendervilleCourse Leaders in Applied Conservation SkillsW.I.T.
DateTuesday 14th April
Group 19.30-11.00
Group 211.30-1.00
1INTRODUCTIONWelcome and outline of programme
 Safety/PPEAll participants to wear work boots, high vis jacket/coat/vest, safety helmet
 Removal of pointingRemoval of sand & cement pointing & risks to façade stonework
 Stone & SandSelection of stone & sand
 Failure of Pointing

Effects of bad weather.

Visual inspection of student’s sample panels

 ConsolidationConsolidation of wall for re-pointing and why
 Ashlar stoneworkOpening of joints in ashlar finish
 InternalRemoval of plaster internally
 Plaster specificationHemp plaster- why?
 ArchesRemoval of arches to side aisle
 RepairsSplicing of materials for repairs

Learning and development issues

· Feedback from the students was extremely positive. They all emphasised the benefits of working on a live project with ‘real life’ tasks and working environments.

· The students also gave positive feedback on the lectures and practical demonstrations which resulted in a realistic learning experience.

Summary of trainee feedback- (student names omitted)

Reflections on St. Mary’s Church project 4th February 2015

· As part of our B.Sc course Applied Conservation skills in WIT, we were very lucky to have a live project to work on. The live project was within the grounds of the Historical St Marys Church in the centre of KK city. The pointing exercise on the wall was a great learning experience. However the lectures’ by the Conservation + Archaeologists were exceptional and well executed. All in all a great learning experience and lots to talk over a cuppa.

  • I found the workshop, lectures, presentations and site tours at St Mary’s very informative and interesting. I learned a lot about how to read the different eras of development of the church from looking at the building from a conservator’s viewpoint. Having the history of the site discussed with people such as Evelyn Graham, Peter Cox, Niall McCullough, Coilin O’Driscoll and others was a great assistance with this. The workshop with Pat McAfee and Lisa Edden was very important with regard to teaching us the correct way to mix traditional lime mortars and how to apply this knowledge in a practical way.
  • I always believed that I had a good understanding how buildings went together and how they worked. It was only after I enrolled on this course that I learned that there was a completely different way to look at historical buildings. My time spent on this course and at St Marys was hard but well worth the effort and I am so glad I accepted the challenge.
  • I found St Mary’s very interesting. It was amazing the amount of history that it has. The lectures were very good. I learned a lot from Peter Cox’s lectures. The pointing of the stone was ok, I thought it could have been done a bit faster.
  • As students we have received extensive information on lime and its use in a conservation setting but nothing brings the entire process home better than seeing it being used in an actual conservation project. The problems faced by the various professionals involved in conservation, are best visualised on site, eg, weather, difficulties with stone etc, theses cannot be taught in a classroom.
  • To have the opportunity to be a part of a “live” project such as St Mary’s Church in Kilkenny has been extremely educational and has given me an insight into the process that goes before a large project can proceed being renovated. It has given me access to professionals and information about this process, I would not otherwise have learnt. It has also been a real treat to have been allowed to rake out and repoint a historic wall. Real life experiences like this cannot be substituted in a classroom.
  • The whole experience of St Mary’s was really enjoyable from start to finish. The history of the building was explained to us from the start by local historians and building and fabric consultants who spoke about hoe the building has evolved from the 13th century until now and the plans for the future of St Mary’s. Kilkenny council facilitated us very well and were very welcoming.


  • I found the whole experience of working and learning at St Mary’s Kilkenny one of the most interesting parts of the course so far. It had just the right blend of the practical and theoretical and Kilkenny County Council and the Dept. Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht facilitated us in every way. The weather was not always perfect for work like raking out and pointing but getting practice on a working building site was invaluable.


  • St Mary’s was a great way of learning all the work that goes on behind the scene of restoration of an old building, eg, archaeological, history, and material examination. Favourite part was lectures and how each went about their own job and learning about different types of lime mortar and how and when to use them.


  • St Mary’s Hall was a very valuable experience. The presentations given were very informative. It was good to see the things we were learning in the classroom being put into practice such as change of function for a building and all the historic research that goes into a project. The practical side was also very good as were the demonstrations give by Pat McAfee and Lisa Edden.
  • A life project is irreplaceable in the teaching of a conservation course and puts things in context. It shows the theory in practice. We got to meet the movers and shakers of the conservation world and this will be helpful into the future.
  • The St. Mary’s Church project was an absolutely invaluable in terms of experience in working on the live project. Being exposed to the elements, making various decisions on site showed us that a straight forward task in the workshop is not quite as straight forward task when working on the live project. The end result was good, but if I to be critical about it, I would point out a couple of things: we were far from replicating the original mortar – sand grading was wrong (sand we were working with was lacking coarse material (gravel)); using hydraulic lime (NHL 3.5) instead of hot lime. The wall could’ve been pinned better in places; minor mortar stains on stone. Overall it was priceless opportunity for our group, not to mention the sense of pride and responsibility.

Experience learned by the local authority

· It is planned to continue with on-site practical conservation training during the course of the St.Mary’s building project, in collaboration with the main contractor and the project design team.

· It is sincerely hoped that the success and cooperation shown in the delivery of this project will herald the start of further collaborative projects between Kilkenny County Council & WIT.

· While Kilkenny County Council is keen to promote training in traditional building skills, there is a lack of a regular funding stream to guarantee work in this sector and a continuity of training opportunities. Consequently there is a shortage of employment opportunities arising from the up-skilling in the traditional skills/building conservation sector.


Comments from Ian O’Neill & Terry Prenderville, WIT Course Leaders:

  • The collaboration between the DoAHG, Kilkenny County Council and St Mary’s Church and Waterford Institute of Technology has proven to be a rewarding and highly beneficial experience for all the students and personnel involved. Hopefully, this pilot project can be built on for further collaboration between the parties mentioned above. A last special thanks to Evelyn Graham and Nessa Roche for making this project possible.



  • This type of initiative is vital if we are to take the training of Architectural conservation forward. The on-site learning of the students was invaluable and therefore beneficial to all parties and enhancing the quality of the B.Sc in Applied Conservation Skills. It is hoped by all the Staff at WIT that there will be further initiatives like St Mary’s for our future courses.


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