Fingal Independent

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Naul's water pumps restored to former glory ...

... and how the Fingal Independent helped solve a local mystery


Christopher Gilsenan at pump on Main Street, Naul

Christopher Gilsenan at pump on Main Street, Naul

Sarah-Rose, Hazel and Julia help out at the project

Sarah-Rose, Hazel and Julia help out at the project


Christopher Gilsenan at pump on Main Street, Naul


In early October, Naul Community Council were delighted to be successfully awarded 80% funding of €8,500 from The Heritage Council and The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, under the Community Heritage Grant Scheme 2020, towards urgent conservation works in Naul Village.

The aim of Naul Village Conservation Project 2020 is to promote community participation and engagement in conserving the two village pumps and to carry out urgent repair and conservation works on Naul Graveyard's gates which are over 200 years old.

Enhancement works are also being carried out at the entrance of Naul's historic Graveyard, which includes a name stone for the graveyard, lime rendering of the block piers and replacement limestone pier caps.

Ian Lennon of Naul Community Council told the Fingal Independent:'last week a major element of our community project was completed, which was the repair and conservation of the village's two historic cast iron pumps. Both of the cast iron pumps were manufactured by 'Tonge and Taggart' at Windmill Lane Foundry, over 100 years ago, who are recognisable for their cast iron goods, drains and manhole covers we pass by daily. The iconic and elegant square column early 20th century pumps are distinct to towns and villages across Fingal, in the former Balrothery Rural Council District.'

Mr Lennon explained: 'Following a previous publication of an article on our project in the Fingal Independent in October, we were contacted by a reader who had happened to read the article on our project that week. Martin and Angela Delahan, of Delahan Steel Fabrication contacted a member of Naul Community Council and let us know that they had the missing pump top which was sent away for repairs some years ago. Martin had beautifully repaired the cracked pump top and we are delighted they were able to solve the mystery and reunite the missing pump top.'

Conservation work began on the pump at the village square which was installed c.1919, where volunteers part by sanding the pump.

However, with the sudden sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and impending escalation to level 5 restrictions the community council felt it would be safer not to encourage volunteers to continue work on the pumps in public.

Mr Lennon said: 'Prior to the introduction of level 5 restrictions, each of the pump tops were packed in boxes, along with a bit of history on each of the pumps, instructions, paint and PPE for painting each of the tops. Two volunteer family pods received a box each and painted each of the pump tops over the mid-term break from the comfort and safety of their own homes. This allowed members of the local community to still participate in the project, during restrictions and gave local kids the opportunity to care for and engage with their heritage. We would like to say a big thanks to the Davis and Mc Elvaney families for their brilliant work painting the pump tops.

'Following the completion of the repainting of the pump at the Square, work began on the pump on the Main Street in Naul. This is the older of the two pumps in Naul Village and according to an article in the Drogheda Independent, it was installed in 1914. Previously there was a timber pump in this location which was installed in the late 1870s which was funded at the time through public subscription and later taken in charge by the council in 1893. Let it be known, that almost 150 years later in 2020, it is through the generous donations of the local community that both pumps have been restored.

'During the course of the repair of the pump on the Main Street, local man Christopher Gilsenan, who was born and raised in the shadow of the pump across the road, shared memories of the days when the pump as the primary source of water in the village. According to many locals who passed by 'the water was beautiful' from the pump on the main street which was far more palatable than the pump at the square, which supposedly was polluted with rust from an incorrect liner. While the pumps no longer function, they are a reminder of the daily necessities of life in rural Naul in the past and are important parts of the rural streetscape. The pumps were the main source of water in Naul until running water came in 1976 and functioned until around 1986 when the local sewer was installed which affected water quality.'

He added: 'It was discovered, during repairs on the pump on the main Street that Christy Gilsenan's Grandfather, Patrick Gilsenan (b.1856) previously held the contract for the repair and maintenance of the 60 pumps in the Balrothery District. Patrick Gilsenan carried out work for the then council for over 40 years, from the mid 1880's to c.1930 and would have seen the transition and replacement of the timber box pumps to the iconic cast iron pumps we are accustomed to seeing across Fingal today.

'On completion of the final pump, it was only fitting that the top, which had been missing for 12 years, was reinstated by Mr Gilsenan, carrying on the long family tradition 106 years later.