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Urgent Action Needed To Avoid Damaging Historic Irish Stone Buildings.

The preservation of historic stone buildings across Ireland is under threat, unless urgent and efficient action is taken to develop standards of procurement, training and apprenticeships, a daylong conference taking place in County Clare tomorrow, will hear.

Frank McCormack, Founder and Director of Irish Natural Stone, pictured at his workshop in Boston, County Clare, with stone capitals to be used as part of the restoration and renovation project underway at The Four Courts in Dublin.

Conservation and heritage experts from academia, government, local government and the private sector will gather in Boston on Wednesday to discuss the need to improve the traditional skills which they say is required to prevent ongoing damage being caused to the country’s heritage buildings.

The inaugural National INStone Symposium is being hosted by Burren-based Irish Natural Stone (INStone), the company responsible for delivering the Irish Hunger Memorial in New York City, the restoration of the Four Courts in Dublin, St. Mel’s Cathedral in Longford, St. John’s Cathedral in Limerick, the O’Connell Monument in Ennis, the Irish Cultural and Learning Foundation in Phoenix (USA) and Hope House in Bath (UK).

Company founder Mr Frank McCormack said the event will highlight the urgent need to educate public bodies about bringing vernacular buildings and derelict housing back into use in “a proper and correct manner with sensitivity towards their heritage aspect, ensuring the use of natural materials.”

“All stakeholders involved in the preservation of our built heritage need to know and understand about what natural materials should be used and their appropriate application, whilst ensuring best conservation practice is adhered to and achieved. Unfortunately, we are at a concerning stage where there is a widening gap in traditional skills within the heritage sector,” he explained.

Mr. McCormack said traditional skills once commonly deployed in the conservation of old buildings were being lost and that intervention at the national level would be required to ensure that the heritage value of Ireland’s vernacular properties is not undermined.

The event features keynote addresses from a range of experts, including Dr. Patrick Wyse Jackson, Associate Professor of Geology and Curator of the Geological Museum at Trinity College Dublin (TCD); Barry O’Reilly of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage; Hugh Kavanagh, coordinator of the All-Ireland Heritage Skills Programme for the Prince’s Foundation; Dr. John Treacy of Clare County Council; and Alan Micklethwaite, a renowned stone carver with many years of experience in the conservation of historic monuments and sculpture.

“With a pressing need to preserve our built heritage and upgrade our building stock to modern-day comfort levels, all stakeholders involved need to understand traditional building methods and how we can incorporate suitable modern materials to achieve the required energy efficiency rating in the building,” explained Mr. McCormack.
He continued, “We need to close the gap in both traditional skills and the understanding of historic buildings. To achieve this, a standardised national quality rating and assessment process should be introduced so that local authorities and public bodies, most of whom will be participating in the symposium, present can better understand the process of properly conserving and restoring old buildings, from the methods of construction adopted to the appropriately specified materials. Furthermore, additional investment and support are required to ensure traditional skills and conservation training allows for the new generation of craftspeople to learn and hone our ancient skills, and aid in the preservation of our built heritage.”

Mr. McCormack, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) who has more than 50 years of experience working as a master stone mason; sculptor; businessman and entrepreneur in Ireland; across Europe and in the United States pointed to the need for a significant increase in the resources available under various government-funded schemes to refurbish Ireland’s old buildings.

“Schemes such as the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS), Historic Structures Fund (HSF), the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant and GLAS Traditional Farm Buildings Grants Scheme are very much welcomed, but a substantial increase in the support provided at local government level in conjunction with the training of those engaged in restoration and conservation work, is necessary if we are to maximise the numbers of successfully procured and finished products of older properties being brought back into use,” he added.

Among the topics being discussed at the conference will be ‘Understanding Carbon in the Built Environment’ by Peter Cox (FRSA) of Carrig Conservation; ‘Craftsmanship in Stone – CRAFTVALUE – IRC Advanced Laureate Project, by TCD’s Professor Christine Casey, Dr Andrew Tierney and Dr Melanie Hayes; ‘STONEBUILT IRELAND Research Project, by TCD’s Professor Patrick Wyse Jackson & Dr Louise Caulfield; ‘The ethics and ethos of Architectural Sculpture Conservation’ by leading restorative carver, Alan Micklethwaite; ‘FABTRADS – Moisture and Thermal Properties of a Range of Irish Stones and In-Situ U-Values of Stone walls’ by UCD’s Dr Rosanne Walker; ‘National Vernacular Strategy’ by Barry O’Reilly of the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage; ‘All-Ireland Heritage Skills Programme’ by Hugh Kavanagh of The Princes Foundation; and ‘Preservation of the Historical and Heritage Value of our Historical Burial Grounds and Graveyards’ by Dr John Treacy of Clare County Council’s Burial Grounds Division.

Other speakers include INStone’s Jamie Forde, MCIOB Building Surveyor, and also INStone’s Colin Grehan, Lead Sculptor who will provide a special presentation on ‘The Intricate Hand-Carving of the Replacement Four Courts Capitals’. An open questions and answers session will be chaired by Dr Brendan Dunford of Burrenbeo Trust at the close of the conference.

Visit www.irishnaturalstone.com for more on the first National INStone Symposium on Wednesday September 6th.


Tipperary Population Growth According To Census 2022 Summary Results.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) at the end of May this year, 2023, published their Census 2022 Summary Results, which details the population changes at a national level since April 2016.
They have also broken down the results on a county by county level, highlighting some of the main changes, and a full list of all county press releases are available, including county Tipperary, HERE.

Summary Results for Co. Tipperary.
Census 2022 shows that the population of Tipperary grew by 5% to 167,895, which concludes that the number of people in the county rose by 8,342 between April 2016 and April 2022. Over the same period, Ireland’s population grew by 8% from 4,761,865 to 5,149,139.

Tipperary Population – Males and Females.
Of Tipperary’s population, 84,256 were female and 83,639 were male, which means there were 99 males for every 100 females. In Ireland, overall, there were 2,604,590 females and 2,544,549 males or 98 males for every 100 females.

Population by Age.
The average age of Tipperary’s population in April 2022 was 40.3 years, compared with 38.6 years in April 2016. Nationally, the average age of the population was 38.8, up from 37.4 in April 2016.

The number of people aged 65 and over continues to grow. This age group increased by 20% to 29,356 in Tipperary, and by 22% to 776,315 at a national level since 2016.

Dual Irish Citizens.
In Tipperary, the number of dual Irish citizens increased from 2,329 to 3,904, while non-Irish citizens accounted for 9% of the county’s population. Nationally, dual Irish citizenship increased by 63% from 104,784 to 170,597 people and non-Irish citizens made up 12% of the population.

Divorce and Separations
The proportion of separated and divorced people in Tipperary remained steady at 7% of the population (aged 15 and over), compared to 6% in 2016. The national comparison was 6% in both 2022 and 2016.

In 2022, 83% of people in Tipperary stated that their health was good or very good, compared with 87% in 2016. This is a similar trend to the national figures, which also showed a 4% decrease in the good/very good categories, from 87% to 83%.

Irish Speakers.
The number of people (aged three and over) who stated that they could speak Irish in Tipperary was 66,003 compared with 65,391 in 2016. Within this figure 1,258 said they spoke Irish daily while 3,540 spoke Irish weekly.
Nationally, 1,873,997 people stated they were able to speak Irish, with 71,968 speaking Irish daily and 115,065 speaking it weekly.

There were 73,207 people (aged 15 and over) at work in Tipperary, an increase of 9,735 people (+15%) between 2016 and 2022. Nationally, there were 313,656 additional people (+16%) at work.

Working From Home.
In Tipperary, 17,665 people (aged 15 and over) worked from home at least one day a week in 2022. This represented 24% of the workforce. The national figure was 32%.

This was a new question for Census 2022. There were 33,286 children aged 15 and under in Tipperary in April 2022. Of these, 12,173 (37%) were in childcare, compared with 33% nationally.

In 2022, in Tipperary 69% of households owned their own home, with a further 24% renting. This compared with 66% of households owning their home nationally and 28% renting.

Housing Stock.

Between April 2016 and April 2022, housing stock in the county grew by 2% from 69,106 to 70,608. The number of vacant dwellings decreased by 15% from 7,493 to 6,344 and the number of holiday homes rose by 8% from 1,009 to 1,093. Nationally, the housing stock grew by more than 5% from 2,003,645 to 2,112,121. The number of vacant dwellings fell by almost 20,000 (-11%) to 163,433 and the number of holiday homes rose by 8% from 62,148 to 66,956.

It is important to note that a dwelling classified as vacant for census purposes does not necessarily imply that it is available for re-use. Census vacancy is essentially a point in time measure which may be different to other reported measures of vacancy which may focus more on longer term vacancy. For more information on the census definition of vacancy, please see Editor’s Notes below.

Housing Tenure (Owners and Renters).
In April 2022, 43,024 of homes were owner-occupied in Tipperary, compared with 42,030 in April 2016. The number of homes owned with a mortgage or loan fell by 8% from 17,616 to 16,256 since Census 2016 while the number of homes owned outright (without a loan or mortgage) increased by 10%, from 24,414 to 26,768. Homes rented from private landlords showed a 6% increase from 7,894 to 8,336. Nationally, 66% of homes were owner occupied. Some 531,207 homes were owned with a mortgage or loan, while almost 680,000 homes were owned without a mortgage or loan, which was up 11% from 2016. More than 330,000 homes were rented from a private landlord, an increase of 7% since 2016.

There was a significant increase of 83% (up to almost 17,000 households) in the number of over 65s renting from a private landlord in the State. In Tipperary, the number of homes rented in the 65 and over age group was 502 (which was a 92% increase). In the 60 to 64 age group, it was up 83% compared with 69% nationally.

Census 2022 shows that by the age of 36, more than half of householders in Tipperary owned their own home (with or without a mortgage or loan). Nationally this age was 36. This age, which marks the changeover between home ownership and renting, has been increasing over time, up from 26 years in 1991, 27 years in 2002, 28 years in 2006, 32 years in 2011, and 35 years in 2016.
Rent Increases

Renters have continued to face large increases in the amount of rent they pay. Between the 2016 and 2022 censuses, the average weekly rent paid to a private landlord in Tipperary in April 2022 was €161, which was a 30% increase on 2016. The average weekly rent paid to a private landlord (at national level) rose to €273, up €73 (37%). This was more than double the rate of increase (17%) between 2011 and 2016.

Many properties classed as vacant in the census may only be vacant for a short period of time and for a wide variety of reasons including homes for sale, rent, new build or renovation, owner in a nursing home, etc. However, there were more than 2,242 dwellings classed as vacant both in the 2016 and 2022 censuses in Tipperary, which could be an indication of a longer-term vacancy status. Nationally the figure was just under 48,000.

The Census definition of a vacant dwelling is a point in time indicator taken on Census night which in these cases means that the dwellings were vacant on the census nights for both 2016 and 2022. (For more information on the census definition of vacancy, please see the Editors notes below).
Data from New Household Questions

Census 2022 included new household questions on the number of working smoke alarms and how we use renewable energy sources in our homes. Tipperary had 3,145 homes with no smoke alarms. Homes with solar panels amounted to 4,220 which was 7% of occupied dwellings in the county. Nationally, almost 72,000 homes had no smoke alarms and 119,300 or 6% of occupied homes had solar panels fitted.


Recruitment Campaign For Irish Prison Officers Due To Commence.

The Irish Prison Service are inviting applications from suitably qualified persons, who wish to be considered for inclusion on a panel from which vacancies for Recruit Prison Officer may be filled.

The Irish Prison Service is responsible for the provision of safe, secure and humane custody for those people committed to prison by the Courts.

The Public Appointments Service, on behalf of the Irish Prison Service, intends to recruit up to 250 Prison Officers in 2023, with an additional 300 in 2024.

The last recruitment competition was held in 2022 and was very successful with over 2,000 persons making applications.

Note: The 2023 ‘Recruit Prison Officer Competition’ closes at 3:00pm, on Thursday 28th September 2023.

Information can be found on the Public Service Appointments website HERE.


Tipperary & Waterford Retained Firefighters Began Two Day Strike Action Today.

Retained firefighters in counties Tipperary and Waterford Began Two Days Of Strike Action Today

Unite union members, working as retained firefighters in Co. Tipperary and Co. Waterford, began a further two days strike action today Thursday August 3rd, and will continue their action tomorrow Friday August 4th.

These two days of strike action represent a further escalation of an industrial dispute which has arisen due to the continued refusal of the Local Government Management Association (LGMA), representing local authorities, to engage with the Unite union over workforce concerns.

Retained firefighters, who form the backbone of Ireland’s firefighting service, have seen retainers and call-out fees frozen for years, while the location requirements make it difficult or impossible for workers to supplement their low earnings with other employment.
Retained firefighters are also seeking structured and predictable ‘off-call’ times, rather than as is currently the reality operating on a 24/7 basis.


Tim Lucey Appointed CEO Of Rásaíocht Con Éireann.

Rásaíocht Con Éireann CEO Mr Tim Lucey.

The Board of Rásaíocht Con Éireann (RCÉ) / Greyhound Racing Ireland (GRI) has announced the appointment of Mr Tim Lucey as the organisation’s new CEO.

Mr. Lucey has been Chief Executive of Cork County Council since 2014. During his expansive career in Local Government, he also has served as Manager of Cork City Council (2010-2014).

Tim Lucey is an experienced Chief Executive, having served the last 9 years as Chief Executive of Cork County Council, after progressing from a 4-year period in the same role at Cork City Council. He previously held the position of assistant County Manager (for North Cork) and Head Of Corporate Affairs for Cork County Council.

The native of Bandon in County Cork, who will assume his new CEO role in November 2023, has led transformational change in the Local Government sector with a focus on investment in corporate development, commercial thinking and supporting the importance of rural, community, and cultural aspects of Ireland’s fabric, while at the same time securing significant investment in infrastructure, urban and business growth.

He is a member of the Institute of Directors and a member of the Board of the Institute of Public Administration (IPA), the Local Government Management Agency and Promoting Cork Ltd, and has extensive qualifications in accountancy, company direction and business.

“I am honoured to accept the position of CEO and I am very much looking forward to working with the Board of Directors and staff of RCÉ and the vibrant greyhound community across Ireland,” commented Mr. Lucey.

Mr. Lucey continued, “I am committed to using my extensive experience in corporate leadership and management, crisis management, communications and stakeholder engagement in complex multi-sectoral environments to further develop a commercial greyhound racing industry built on a high-quality entertainment, consumer-focused product, which meets the highest international regulatory and welfare standards.”

Frank Nyhan, Chairperson of the Board of RCÉ, said, “On behalf of the staff and Board, I am pleased to announce that Tim Lucey has, following an extensive recruitment process, accepted the position as our new CEO. Tim is a tremendously experienced leader, and we are delighted to announce that he will be joining our organisation. Mr John Tuohey will remain as interim CEO until Tim takes up his new position and RCÉ would like to acknowledge and thank John for his contribution during this transition,” added Mr. Nyhan.

According to Mr John Tuohey, (Interim CEO of RCÉ), “RCÉ will greatly benefit from Tim’s wealth of experience in corporate and financial governance and his management of Ireland’s largest local authority by area. On behalf of staff, I want to congratulate Tim and I look forward to him taking up his new position this November.”

RCÉ is a commercial semi-state body responsible for the control and development of the greyhound industry in the Republic of Ireland.  GRI has licensed a total of 14 tracks in the Republic, of which nine are owned and controlled by the organisation. The remainder are owned and operated by private enterprise. There are also a further two privately owned stadia in Northern Ireland.

Visit www.grireland.ie for more.