Case Study – St Nicholas Church

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St. Nicholas Church, Galway City

In 2020, Niall McDonagh Roofing and Rope Access was tasked with an initial inspection of the structure of St. Nicholas Church, including a spire survey. The initial inspection revealed that the centuries old church was in need of cleaning and restoration in areas that were out of reach of conventional methods. Being a heritage site, the old church required removal of vegetation buildup and cleaning of the gargoyles and parapets, as well as restoration of the bell clock and chimes.

Challenges and Restrictions Faced

  • Working around pedestrians, clergy, cyclists and vehicle traffic
  • Working with no access to the building facade or spire, unable to use Mobile Elevating Work Platforms or scaffolding to reach work area
  • Working with conservation officers on maintaining a heritage structure
  • Organizing the gathering and transportation of equipment and waste in a non-disruptive, safe manner
  • Organisational and personnel difficulties due to Covid-19

Service Provided

The team first created a specialized access solution to allow technicians access to all required locations in a safe and efficient manner. Extra effort and care were needed around the parapets and roofing sections.

Initial inspections and spire surveys were completed using a complex rope access solution, and it was determined that the work needed for the bell clock would require a more complex approach than initially expected, to properly and safely complete the task.

Following Phase 1 of Inspection, our team removed an estimated 1 ton of plant matter and debris. Parapets and gargoyles were cleaned, and all broken/missing slates were replaced, in adherence to the heritage conservation mandates. Finally, our team restored the old bell clock and chimes so that they could continue being of service to the church.

100% of the waste was packaged and transported off-site for recycling.

All Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) guidelines were followed, along with clear and precise documentation throughout the process.


All success metrics were met.

  • The project was completed on time and on budget
  • No damages nor disruptions to the church
  • All heritage conservation requirements were met
  • 100% safety record with zero incidents
  • Low cost to the client

Duration of project:

Phase 1 – Inspection, 1 day, 16 man-hours
Phase 2 – Restoration, 6 days, 96 man-hours

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