In April 2008, North Tipperary County Council gave the go-ahead to plans for conserving and refurbishing Killahara Castle. Work commenced immediately and was completed 7 months later in November 2008. The process required careful planning, expert oversight, and a high standard of workmanship.

Killahara CastleKillahara Castle

The Starting Point

The castle, until April 2008, stood as a shell. It had no roof, no floors, and no windows. The lower level window openings were wider than originally, courtesy of the 1853 restoration attempt. The surrounds of some of the widened windows were crumbling, as they had been hastily patched up with brick work rather than stone corbels and lintels. At the top, the castellation and various original features were missing and there was a concrete barge all around the top of the walls, as a result of the 1904 restoration. However the castle stands on rock and the overall structure was good.

Conservation Rather Than Restoration

Killahara CastleThe co-owners, at the outset, planned to restore the castle to as near as they could bring it to its original state. That would have meant restoring, amongst other things, the castellation, the original window configuration etc. Conservation consultant, Ivor McElveen, suggested a different approach.

Ivor pointed out that unless detailed drawings of the original structure were available, restoration work could be regarded as too speculative. The efforts in this project, he suggested, should be to conserve rather than restore

The Conservation Plan

The central ideas guiding this project were to:Killahara Castle

- make the castle habitable to a high standard

- to make it dry, warm, and comfortable.

- respect and preserve the full ‘story’ of the building.

- the original structure as well as the works done in 1853 and 1904. This meant that the castle would need to be roofed, insulated, damp-proofed, floored, patched, furnished and have modern comforts such as electricity, heating, and bathrooms installed, while observing the following constraints:

Killahara Castle- undertake only those repairs necessary for preserving structural integrity.

- ensure all materials used in necessary structural work were compatible with the building.

- keep invasive work to the minimum.

- ensure that all works done were ‘reversible’.

Killahara Castle