Questions over council plan to spend €175k saving chimney

A LOCAL authority is set to spend €175,000 on saving a 400-year-old chimney on top of the oldest building in Ennis.

The triple diamond Jacobean chimney in Ennis’s Chapel Lane dates from the period 1580 to 1650 and now poses a risk to the public due to its state of disrepair.

The chimney is a protected structure and the works will involve the careful demolition of the gable wall and chimney and their subsequent reconstruction.

Ennis town manager Ger Dollard stated that the council has secured €85,000 from the Department of the Environment towards the estimated €175,000 spend and this money must be spent by the end of November.

A council report on the issue states: “These works will not return the property to a habitable state but will make the building structurally sound.”

Mr Dollard stated that the owner of the building doesn’t have the financial resources to make the building safe.

At the council’s October meeting, Cllr Peter Considine (FF) questioned the use of the public monies on the chimney wondering would it be better “to do a 1960s job and just bulldoze it?”.

Mr Considine said that the estimated cost represented “a lot of money down the Jacobean chimney”, but he acknowledged from an academic view, the chimney is regarded as very important.

Ennis mayor, Cllr Michael Guilfoyle (Ind) said that €175,000 was a lot of money and the only tourists that would be able to see it would be crows as it was so high up.

Cllr Frankie Neylon (Ind) said: “What cost do you put on a life if someone gets injured.”

However, Mr Dollard said the situation must be dealt with “otherwise we are standing by while a dangerous structure is not dealt with”.

He added: “The cost is complicated by it not being an ordinary building. It is the oldest building in Ennis with a triple diamond Jacobean chimney on top of it.

“The immediacy is real and we cannot afford to allow it to continue for another winter.”

Mr Dollard said he wouldn’t rule out a further grant from the Department of the Environment next year.

In a bid to retrieve the council’s own spend on the chimney, Mr Dollard said: “I certainly would not rule out the council putting a charge on the site or ultimately acquiring the site.”

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