Tuesday 24 July 2007

Makeover project for Shandon bell tower

A MAJOR project is set to make Cork’s landmark Shandon bells more tourist-friendly.

The Select Vestry of St Anne’s Shandon has applied for planning permission for a range of developments that will make the iconic building on the city’s northside more accessible as well as improving visitor facilities.

Christopher Southgate and Associates plan to open up an existing closed door for fire safety reasons and install a new wheelchair access lift into the protected structure.

But they also plan to install glass screens and educational displays right up through the bell tower.

Tourists and visitors will be able to climb the bell-ringing platform and read about the history of the 1722-built church all the way up.

A metal grill in the bell tower which protects the ‘Four Faced Liar’s’ clock mechanisms will also be replaced with a glass screen.

Church warden John Mustard said it would improve visibility into the intricate mechanisms.

A number of beautiful stained glass windows which are damaged will also be replaced.

Mr Mustard said attempts have been made to replace damaged panes in some of the windows, but church authorities experienced difficulties in matching glass colours.

“This work is being planned following lengthy consultations with city planners,” he said.

“We didn’t want to close the tower during July and August which are the busiest period for visitors.

“So we are hoping to start the work in September, once planning permission comes through.”

These latest developments are the final stages of a series of works which have been ongoing at the church for almost six years. Its stonework was cleaned last year, new safety rails were added to the bell tower and the gilded salmon-shaped weather vane, perched atop the tower, was re-gilded in 2004.

Shandon is open to visitors Monday to Saturday from 10am-4.30pm.

Steep public liability insurance means visitors are charged to ring the bells — €6 for adults and €5 for students and pensioners.

Irish Examiner

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