Monday, 11 December 2006
Gunpowder and conservation in Cork Harbour
n early 19th century gunpowder magazine on Rocky Island in Cork harbour has become Ireland's first crematorium outside Dublin. The unique building, derelict and in ruin when the tiny island was bought four years ago by Clonmel businessman Louis Ronan, has been transformed into an architectural gem. The island originally had two adjoining magazine buildings, which were entered through an archway cut through the surrounding bedrock. It took 10 years to build them and when they were completed in 1818, they were used to store gunpowder manufactured in Ballincollig mills. The British Navy remained on the island until the early 1920s, when it handed it over to the new Irish state. The island later lay deserted for almost 40 years during which the magazines were vandalised and stripped of most of their fittings including the original oak wood blocks which covered the floors.