Saturday 7 December 2019

Let the bell ring out for Christmas

The peal of St George's bell set to ring out across the town once again

Craftsmen Paul and Pat Coughlan, conservation engineer John Kelly and Sean Hyland of Samco Engineering about to set about restoring the St George’s bell
Craftsmen Paul and Pat Coughlan, conservation engineer John Kelly and Sean Hyland of Samco Engineering about to set about restoring the St George’s bell

Bill Browne

An important element of the St George’s project has been to get its impressive bell, originally installed in 1899, back in full working order.

The first task was to replace the rotten timber frame that had been supporting the bell, which weighs roughly a ton.

This also allowed the removal of the old bell-wheel which was rotten and eaten through by woodworm.

“When we were removing the bell-wheel we found the original makers name carved into it, FR de Flanders of Louvain. Although the wheel was rotten we plan to keep pieces of it, which we hope to turn into an artistic piece for display in the belfry,” said Bill Power.

The six-foot in diameter bell wheel has been completely replicated in oak by local craftsman Tom Dunlea of Baldwin Street and the polished bell now hangs on it. This allows the bell to be rung in the traditional swinging manner by pulling a rope attached to the wheel.

“It is now properly working again after decades of being rung by clappering. Now we can ring it again using the bell wheel, which means it swings about 180 degrees when rung. As a result, the ring sounds louder and has a more melodic ring when heard from outside,” said Bill.

An 18ft Christmas tree was lit up outside the building to mark the opening of the Christmas market last Sunday and Cork County Council has pledged to have the outside of it floodlit by Christmas.

Bill said that to hear and see the bell swinging and ringing as it should had been “one of the really fantastic moments of the project so far”.

“It marked another small but significant milestone in what is a marathon project. I passed the church last Christmas and again on New Year’s Eve and promised myself that if we owned it this Christmas that we’d have it lit up and that we’d use the bell to ring in 2020,” said Bill.

“That’s what we are now going to do”, he promised.

Workshop to offer local groups some monumental advice

With thousands of monuments of archaeological interest dotted around the county, Cork County Council faces an impossible task in trying to protect them all from the ravages of time and the Irish weather.

With this in mind, the authority is hosting a series of one-day workshops across the county next month on how communities can help in cleaning and maintaining monuments. 

The North Cork workshop, which will be of particular interest to heritage, commemorative and Tidy Towns groups, will be held at the Hibernian Hotel in Mallow on Monday, December 2 from 10am to 4.30pm. 

Experts from Ballincollig-based heritage conservation specialists John Cronin and Associates will deliver the workshop using illustrated presentations, talks and case studies. 

"The workshop will outline how to clean and maintain monuments, focusing on the cleaning and caring of carved stone, including headstones, stone monuments and metalwork," said Cork County Council heritage officer Conor Nelligan.

"Participants will also be encouraged to raise issues and problems which they have encountered in their own projects," he added. 

County Mayor, Cllr Christopher O'Sullivan said it was vitally important that community groups worked with the Council to preserve our archaeological heritage. 

"Cork has a richness of archaeological and built heritage dating back centuries, with around having around 19,000 recorded archaeological monuments across the County. Great credit is due to the many heritage and community groups who assist with cleaning and maintenance in their local areas," said Mayor O'Sullivan.

"Cork County Council is fully committed to promoting best practise in the care of these monuments and working with these communities. I would encourage individuals or groups to book their free place on this workshop which is being hosted by our workshops hosted by our Historic Monuments Advisory Committee," he added. 

While the workshop is free, places will be limited so early booking is advised. 

For more information on the workshop and to book a place contact John Cronin & Associates on 021 421 4368 or email