Works underway on historical structure at Bessborough

Maintenance work is being carried out on a historic structure which backs onto a burial plot on the grounds of the former Bessborough Mother and Baby Home.

Known locally as the 'Castle Folly', the semi-ruined structure is located on the site of the nuns' burial plot.

Last month children's minister Katherine Zappone confirmed that "initial testing" had been undertaken at this burial ground but that no geophysical survey had been undertaken.

A sign at the site indicates that the folly presents a "major health and safety hazard due to crumbling mortar and loose stones".

"We are currently undertaking repair work. We ask visitors to be patient while we repair the structure which will conclude by the end of March 2019. The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes has been informed of the necessary works," it reads.

In a statement, the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary said that it informed the Commission of the maintenance works and that "a representative visited the site".

The Irish Examiner asked the Order what company was carrying out the maintenance work and if any expert was on site to potentially identify issues of concern should they arise.

It declined to answer these questions stating that it had contacted the Commission and would "deal directly with the Commission on all related matters".

Director of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission Ita Mangan confirmed that the Order had notified it of the maintenance works.

"We understand that the work is necessary because of the dangerous condition of the folly. We have inspected the folly and accept that it is in a dangerous condition.

"We have no involvement with the people carrying out the work but we are monitoring the situation," she said.

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