Killua Castle, Co Westmeath

  • Client: Mr and Mrs Allen Krause
  • Architect: Healy & Partners Conservation
  • Completion date: 2009

Although working within established best practice, there was, on site, a heightened awareness of the risks involved and thus a greater than normal burden of responsibility. This was an example of engineering by PUNCH Conservation that enabled the architects and contractors to proceed safely with a restoration that could have been diagnosed as impossibly dangerous.  An early problem was the request by the architects to retain the original fabric of the extremely fragile and dangerous three-storey Georgian entrance bay without dismantling it. The conventional solution of erecting scaffolding on both sides of the wall was ruled out because of the equally dangerous condition of the brick vaults inside the building. PUNCH Conservation designed a steel frame that was erected on the outside of the wall. It supported, through the window openings, cantilevered platforms for access to the inside and was robust enough to protect men who were working on the piecemeal repairs.

Killua Castle is a seven-bay Georgian house built in 1784 that had been extended progressively from 1814 to 1858 in a Gothic Revival style of castellations and towers.  It had subsequently become a ruin until works commenced to restore this castle to its original form.

Engagement with the ruin of a building constructed over several generations of ownership was key to the realization of an authentic conservation of Killua Castle.  The experience of PUNCH Conservation allowed a deep understanding of the 19th century structural interventions, their limitations and ultimate negative impact on the masonry elements. This understanding was realised over time, as the castle was gradually rendered safely accessible for forensic structural inspection and examination.

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