Thursday 17 October 2019

Bats, birds looked after in restoration

Paul Deering

The restoration of the Lyons Mill building at Finisklin Road has now been completed. The restoration of the Mill was a condition of the planning granted for the Lidl store

Owners Michael and Maura Townsend contracted McCabes Architects of Donegal, along with Cathal O'Connell of CST Group, Sligo and Carrig Conservationists Dublin to come up with a design and oversee the restoration.

McCallion construction of Buncrana were the main contractors for the Lidl store and agreed to undertake the Mill refurbishment in tandem with Lidl. A condition of the Lidl planning was that the Mill had to be completed before Lidl could commence trading so it was the obvious choice to use the same building contractors to complete both projects.

As part of the restoration the building was gutted of all rotten flooring including windows which were beyond repair. New windows were made from the existing internal pine timber beams to the same specification by Breffni Conservationist Joiners, Co. Leitrim after having been painstakingly removed by McCallions. The pine beams, along with roofing timbers and floors date back to 1815 when they they were imported into Sligo docks from Canada.

All external and internal walls were stripped back using environmentally compliant products and then completely raked out and repointed in the traditional method of the time with lime based mortar. This slow and tedious work took seven months to complete by local man Sean Watters from Ballinful and his team.

Internally, the building consisted of five storeys but due to low ceiling heights the building now consists of four storeys with an internal steel frame with concrete floors and stairwells along with a new lift. Completely re-roofed in slate and reclaimed timbers the building has been fully rewired to modern standards along with fire and burglar alarm, new plumbing, air conditioning to all floors and an air purificating system. Many of the original features are still visible internally which adds to the quirkiness of the building.

Contrary to local social media, many local contractors were employed on the Mill such as Ronan Gallagher Electrical, Sean Gallagher Plumbing, Apex Controls Sligo to name a few.

Disabled access to the building has been provided with automatic doors on the plaza side facing the Lidl store where ramp access is available.

Another feature the building boasts, after being approached by Lynda Huxley of "Swift Conservation Ireland" was the installation of 25 Swift nesting places to the front and rear of the building just below the gutters along with bat access points which was welcomed by many wildlife conservationists.

Presently the building is being fitted out for future tenants. The building will how have a coffee shop/deli at ground floor with three floors of modern office space above.

The 200 year old pulley was removed and refurbished and now hangs aloft in the canopy above the large glass windows and hopefully will still remind generations to come of the workings of Sligo port in days gone by.

Sligo Champion