An architect and a structural engineer from my Department inspected this site in early September, at the request of Kerry County Council. Prior to the inspection, the county council had erected scaffolding to facilitate examination of the lightning damage. The damage is more extensive than had been thought previously and the structure is in a dangerous condition.
Repair of the lightning damage would require substantial works involving erecting suitable scaffolding, detailed recording of the damaged section followed by careful removal and reconstruction of the damaged sections of stonework.
The costs involved in the repair work are likely to be significant but would need to be estimated beforehand by a competent quantity surveyor. My officials are prepared to offer advice to Kerry County Council in drawing up a cost plan and are maintaining contact with them in this regard. Pending clarification of the costs involved it is not possible to say what repair works can be carried out.
Finally, public safety remains a primary concern. Additional barriers and warning signs need to be erected by the county council as well as a lightning conductor to prevent any further damage by lightning strikes.
Ownership of the property had been unclear but I understand that Kerry County Council is, in fact, the owner. As such, the cost of repairs would have to be borne by the council. As I stated previously in my reply to the Deputy's Question No. 317 of 30 Bealtaine 2000, it would be possible to have the structure listed in the Heritage Council's buildings at risk register which could lead to grant assistance from that body. The Heritage Council is an independent body in this regard.