The Sacred Heart Church in Limerick City was re-opened in recent years and is now run by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Through the hard work of the clergy and congregation members and Canon Wulfran Lebocq the church and adjoining house are once again in use as they were originally intended after being vacant for a number of years. Canon Lebocq has overseen a great amount of work in restoring the church to its former glory as much of the building and adjoining house had been stripped out by the previous owners.
After gaining permission from the owners, Canon Lebocq asked us to oversee the removal of a marble pulpit and two angel statues from the former Franciscans Church and their relocation and installation in the Sacred Heart Church. The project itself was very interesting as both buildings are protected structures which meant that two separate planning applications had to be filed – one for the removal of the items from the Franciscans and the other for the installation in the Sacred Heart Church. This ensured that all works to both structures were carried out and recorded in accordance with best practice.
After a successful tender process, Frank McCormack of Irish Natural Stone was nominated to undertake the works. Irish Natural Stone, based in the Burren, Co. Clare, have extensive experience in traditional and specialist masonry work all over the country.
Removal Of Items
The removal of the pulpit was a very specialist job as it was to be dismantled by hand and securely stored for transport to the Sacred Heart Church. The two marble angel statues had to be carefully removed from their pedestals and securely stored prior to transporting. The pulpit is made up of many small pieces of marble which are connected using dowels and plaster of paris. The pulpit was thoroughly surveyed and all elements identified prior to dismantling. The separate pieces were placed in custom made timber crates and packed with straw for safe and secure transport. Both angels were sitting on marble pedestals which would remain in place. The angels were carefully lifted from the pedestals with the use of a mobile lift/winch and placed into crates for transport.
Transport & Re-installation
After all the items were safely crated they were loaded onto a truck for the very short trip to their new home. This was done at the break of dawn to avoid problems with traffic as the truck would have to be unloaded very carefully on a very busy part of the street. The new location of the pulpit had been chosen and minor ground works were carried out to carry the load of the pulpit. Two new pedestals were created in marble by Irish Natural Stone based on the style of the existing altar to carry the angel statues and were placed at either side of the main altar. The pulpit was reassembled in its new location carefully by hand with the use of dowels and fine lime putty.
Architectural salvage of various elements of protected structures is a huge problem today in Ireland. The undocumented removal of architectural features and elements has very negative effects on the character and history of a building. However, this is a good example of where the change in use through closure of one protected structure (former Franciscans Church) can have a positive effect on the reopening of another (Sacred Heart Church) through the controlled reuse of certain architectural elements which no longer have a functioning roll to play in their existing environment.