Cork’s famed Shandon clock may be out of action for some time

Cork City Council has warned that it will take some time to restore the city’s iconic Shandon clock to full working.

The council issued a statement yesterday after Irish Examiner reported how the clock mechanism behind the famous ‘four-faced liar’ on the landmark St Anne’s Church steeple had ground to a halt.

Local election candidate Barry Keane spotted that the famous clock had stopped working.

He said he believed the four clocks, which are the responsibility of City Council, have been stuck at five to seven for several weeks.

However, it has emerged that the clocks may have ground to a halt last July.

A spokesman for City Hall said they have been aware of the problem for a while, and have been liaising with the guardians of St Anne’s church.

City officials have inspected the clock mechanism, but he said that, taking into the account the historic nature of the clock mechanism, they are anxious to find the “right sustainable long-term solution” which will take time to assess.

“The clock has required frequent attention in recent months, as it has been repeatedly slowing down,” he said. “The maintenance engineer from John Smith and Sons Ireland has advised the council that major works need to be carried out if this is to be prevented from happening again.

“The costs associated with such works are not yet known. Before any decision can be made, the council will also need to consider alternative options, such as converting the clock mechanism to electronic control, as has recently been carried out to the clock at City Hall.

“Cost constraints, the historic significance of the original clock mechanism, and the value of Shandon Tower to the city and as a major tourist attraction will also be taken into account.”

A clock-making and restoration specialist called on city chiefs to consider engaging local experts to maintain the clock.

Third-generation clock- maker Philip Stokes, of Stokes Clocks in Cork, said: “We should be nurturing our own. Historic old clocks like Shandon need regular maintenance.”

Historic church bells

St Anne’s Church in Shandon is one of the most important early 18th century churches in Ireland and one of a small number which still retains their original 18th century bells.

The clock was erected by the then Cork Corporation in 1847 and was the first four-faced clock until the construction of Big Ben in London.

The clock was made by James Mangan, who had a clock shop on St Patrick’s St until the 1980s when Merchants Quay Shopping Centre was built.

His clock quickly became known as ‘the four-faced liar’ because the four faces did not always show the same time.

The clocks’ machinery weighs two tonnes and the clock faces are 4.25m in diameter.


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