|TRAMORE COASTGUARD STATION |
|Officers house and 6 cottages erected by the Crown in 1875.|
Site for boat-house and rocket cart-house. Lease 1882
Drill hall, Silent battery and firing battery erected by the Board of Works 1891.
Cost Ј2,438 including gun fittings. Lease 1892.(Office of Public Works)
FRIDAY 04 JUNE 2004
Restored Coastguard Station a beacon above Tramore Bay
Report by Jamie O'Keeffe
The beautifully restored Coast Guard Station on the Doneraile in Tramore was officially reopened last Friday by Minister Martin Cullen.
Originally erected by the Office of Public Works in 1874, the landmark building - which was devastated by fire in October 2000 - has been completely refurbished, modified and extended by the OPW at a cost of Ђ3.5m.
Being returned to community use by the Irish Coast Guard - who will occupy the three-storey former officer's residence and two of the original cottages on the site, having been last based there in 1922 - the station, with a modern foyer, lifts and offices, and some 4,500 sq ft of contemporary, open plan space, has obvious potential as a museum and exhibition centre.
Listed as a protected structure, the brief combined the sensitive restoration of the existing station and associated accommodation. The project team painstakingly ensured that all the wooden fittings, windows, doors, architraves and stairs have been restored to match the originals, and the ornate plasterwork has been reinstated based on just a few fragments which survived the fire. The environs of the building, perched majestically above Lady Doneraile's Cove, have also been landscaped.
Minister Cullen recalled that one of the first items, which arrived on his desk when appointed Minister of State at the OPW in 1997 was the proposed sale of the Tramore Coast Guard Station. "Thankfully I thought better of it and it's been a project close to my heart," he said, adding that his successor, Minister Tom Parlon, had been only too happy to follow it through.
Tramore, Mr. Cullen added, was lucky in that the OPW team responsible for the works included top people like project manager Johnny McMahon, who's among the very best in the country, and Ciaran O'Connor, "one of the foremost conservation architects in the world today."
In a few short years they - in conjunction with the main building contactor Robert Quinn - had brought the building from a terrible state of repair to what it is now, "a far more magnificent building," he suggested, "than it was in Victorian times"; but with still "such a sense of history attached to it".
He also paid tribute to his personal assistant Martin O'Gorman and Tramore area councillor Pat Daly for keeping the development on the agenda, in liaison with the OPW and Co. Council, who, in turn, were "extremely helpful" from a planning point of view.
Waterford County Manager Donal Connolly, commending the "magnificent feat of architectural restoration", reserved special praise for the Council's Director of Services, Peter Carey, who'd taken a personal interest in the project. County Mayor Kieran O'Ryan said it was yet another fantastic amenity in a town which has come on in leaps and bounds in recent times.
Chairperson of Tramore Tourism Noreen O'Shea, delighted to see the transformation of the "eyesore" that was the old Garda Barracks (it was home to the force until the early '90s), urged that other derelict properties in the town be similarly refurbished. She also hoped that a permanent maritime museum can be established to help improve the product available to tourists.
An ecumenical blessing was performed by Monsignor Michael Olden and Rev. Michael Johnson, Tramore, while an Irish Coast Guard helicopter and crew carried out a series of special manoeuvres to mark the occasion, which was also attended by Ger Butler, Irish Coast Guard Area Officer, his deputy PJ McCarthy and their 20-strong team.
Many Thanks to Francis Comerford for the article and photos
The full size versions of these photos will soon be available at the TramoreCoast Guard site, which is currently under construction