Mourne Wall Wins Top Conservation Award

Stonemasons Complete Repair Of Mourne wall

The Project of the Year award-winning team behind the Mourne Wall restoration from Geda Construction, NI Water, RPS, Mourne Heritage Trust, Geda Construction, and Thomas Rooney and Sons.

Local Mourne stonemasons from Ballymartin were part of a project team that enjoyed a major success in winning a top conservation gong at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors annual awards evening.

Martin Carey, Chief Executive of the Mourne Heritage Trust who was part of the project team said: “We are absolutely delighted with the achievement. The Mourne wall was there for around 100 years but it was suffering from collapses and bulges. It is classed as a listed monument in Northern Ireland.

“A survey was completed in 2014 and this led to an investment being made of £1.6million to complete the works. Stonemasons Thomas Rooney and Sons from Ballymartin completed the work and had a team of around six working on the wall. The project group consisted of NI Water, Geda Construction, RPS, Jet PR, and the Mourne Heritage Trust.

Splitting stone on the Mourne Wall.

“It really was a great collective effort by all in the team and there were old and new skills shared. The stone masons actually used the traditional plug and feather technique in splitting the stones that were rolled manually up onto the walls using planks. And where necessary a helicopter was used to lift the bigger stones up to the difficult less accessible areas.

“Technologies such as GPS were used to manage the project. It was a mixture of the traditional with the innovative. Amazingly the work was completed in half of the time,” said Mr Carey.

McGrath Praises Mourne Wall Project Team

SDLP MLA for South Down Colin McGrath has congratulated the stonemasons who were awarded the ‘project of the year’ prize at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for their work on restoring the famous Mourne wall which involved 600 repairs along the 22-mile (35km) structure.

Mr McGrath said: “This restoration project has been admired locally, and as of last night regionally. I am delighted this project has the potential to be recognised nationally as the team go forward to the UK wide competition.

“The team of stonemasons have outdone themselves on this project and are a real credit to their trade. As we enter the summer months, I would encourage as many people as to explore this area of outstanding natural beauty on our doorstep.”

The Mourne Wall Is NI Water’s Very Own Wonderwall

A helicopter helps lift up some of the heavy stones on the Mourne Wall.

Congratulations to the NI Water team who picked up prestigious awards for Building Conservation and Project of the Year at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Awards last night.

The Mourne Wall Restoration Project saw over 600 repairs undertaken along the 22 mile-long granite structure – including a 27m collapse on Slieve Bernagh – as well as extensive path works. The project, which was originally estimated to take four years, was completed in less than two. Geda Construction was the contractor on this major project working in partnership with local stonemasons and RPS.

Hand built by the Belfast Water Commissioners between 1904 and 1922 to mark and protect the 9,000-acre water catchment, which feeds the Silent Valley and Ben Crom Reservoirs, the historic wall, has been a listed building since 1996 and today is in the ownership of NI Water.

Working through all types of weather, the team hiked up to 6km a day to carry out the repairs. Missing capping stones – weighing up to 120kg each – were sourced from local quarries and donated by the National Trust, transported to site by helicopter and rolled into place using age-old methods.

In addition to the wall repairs, an extensive length of path works were undertaken in conjunction with Mourne Heritage Trust (MHT) to future-proof the restoration work and protect the integrity of the wall.

Michael Donnelly, NI Water’s Senior Project Manager said:NI Water is delighted to receive these prestigious awards from the RICS. The Mourne Wall Restoration Project has seen the integration of sympathetic traditional construction techniques and modern innovative surveying methods to complete a challenging programme of 600 repairs over 12 mountains.

“To have these prestigious awards bestowed on the team is recognition of the dedication and collaborative working instilled by stakeholders from the outset. I would like to thank Mourne Heritage Trust, NIEA, National Trust and Trustees of Mourne for their guidance and assistance throughout this initial phase of repairs and pay tribute to the strenuous efforts exerted by GEDA Construction, local stonemasons from Thomas Rooney & Sons and the team from RPS.”

The project will now go on to compete against other regional winners at the final on Friday 4th October at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London, for the chance to be crowned overall UK winner!