New information from the Office of Public Works shows the costliest incident across a two-year period involving its property was the theft of a car parking ticket machine.
While hardly a precious artefact, replacing the machine — stolen from the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin 9 — still cost the OPW €22,296 including Vat, making it by far the costliest item it had to repair or replace in the two-year period of 2015 and 2016.
Other incidents included damage to a pillar at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, minor damage to a Louis XVI marble clock and some chipping to a throne at Dublin Castle, possibly caused by someone sitting on it.
Responding to an Irish Examiner Freedom of Information request, the OPW said the perpetrators were looking for money in the 2016 theft. Approximately €1,500 was stolen from the ticket machine, which was later recovered by an Garda Síochána, although no fingerprints were obtained.
At the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin 8, damage to a gate pillar cost €3,250 to repair, although the OPW pointed out that the Irish Museum of Modern Art covered the costs.
The OPW maintains and upkeeps “the fabric and grounds of the RHK”.
According to the OPW: “A truck delivering items for an event hit the pillar and damaged it”.
Both incidents occurred in 2016, as did damage to the metal leg of a Louis XVI white marble clock at Dublin Castle. The leg was bent and the plinth on which it was displayed had been scratched, although repairs cost a modest €320 including VAT.
The OPW put the damage down to wear and tear, stating it was “thought to be caused by dragging the clock over the years”.
In a previous episode at Dublin Castle in 2015, the throne in the Throne Room of the State Apartments was slightly damaged with 5cm of gilding falling off, although it cost nothing to repair.
The damage was spotted by a member of the guiding staff and according to the OPW: “A small 5cm area of gilding immediately above the guilloche moulding on the seat rail had been knocked off and very small fragments of gilding were found under the throne and its accompanying footstool.”
An OPW spokesperson said: “The cause of the damage was recent but unknown, but highly likely that somebody had sat on the throne and had injured the rail causing the gilding to fall off.”
The State Apartments were originally constructed as living accommodation for the Lord Lieutenant and while now used sparingly, it has played host to events such as the inauguration of a president and during the Irish presidency of the European Union.
The OPW looks after more than 16,000 paintings and artworks at various municipal offices around the country and said that none had been damaged or went missing in 2015 and 2016. One artwork is still missing, however.
According to the OPW: “There is one print (cost €254) in a Cork office that was listed as unlocated in 2009.
“During a routine audit in 2016, it continued to be listed as unlocated. This print will remain catalogued on the art database as it is often the case that artworks are recovered in future surveys.”
In relation to the two-year period 2015 and 2016, no new losses of artworks or damage to artworks were reported to the Art Management Office.
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