Restoration

Restoration began on Cashel Palace in 2017, following the purchase of the property by the Magnier Family, and our journey commenced on the passionate restoration of one of Ireland’s most beautiful period properties. Working with a conservation architect and a handpicked team of local craftspeople and contractors, we set about restoring one of Ireland’s most impressive Palladian buildings to its former glory.

Dating back to 1732, Cashel Palace was originally built with the very best materials, which played no small role in helping it stand the test of time. Buildings this old require regular upkeep, and while some parts were in good condition, successive residents hadn’t always lavished Cashel Palace with the attention it deserved. Externally, Cashel Palace’s roof slate had been replaced in the 1990s. None of the original roof slates were left, so the team replaced these with what would have been there before – Bangor Blue slate – a Welsh stone traditionally used to roof many homes around the country. Referencing photographs from the Laurence Collection, taken between 1970 and 1905, the restoration team had great visual records of how Cashel Palace would have looked at that time and of the condition of the building. One notable discovery was the height of the four original chimneys, which had been remarkably tall and a distinctive feature of the house, in keeping with the early 18th century style. Back in 1960, the previous owner of Cashel Palace had had the chimneys knocked and rebuilt, but only to about two-thirds of their original height. And so, when we were reinstating the roof, it was decided to reinstate the chimneys to their former size, enhancing the building while bringing it back to its original design intent.

While working on the roof, the restoration team found a wealth of beautiful old pitch pine timbers which were all kept and can be enjoyed as features in the top floor bedrooms of the main house. Any damage, such as rot, was simply cut out with new timber spliced into the old timber. The dormers were also repaired and reinstated. As is best practice, retention of any original features was an integral part of the planning. With any building of architectural and historical significance, the aim is to try and keep all of the original fabric. A dedication to retaining the historical integrity and listed-nature of the building has been paramount at every step of our journey. That means that something small, such as making a hole for services (for wiring or water, for example) is subject to planning.

Outside of the big cities, brick facades were most unusual for this era, as brick was both costly to buy and transport. This makes Cashel Palace’s dual facade – red brick to the front and limestone to the rear – quite unique. Great care was taken to repair the brickwork and to point it so that it matched the building’s original pointing. The limestone on the other facade was all also carefully pointed and repaired, a fitting tribute to its handsome past.

Internally, Cashel Palace’s basement was in poor condition. Despite the damp, a lovely old flagstone floor was discovered and painstakingly salvaged. Every flagstone was surveyed, numbered and lifted before the damp could be eradicated. A damp proof membrane and underfloor heating were then put down before the flagstones were reinstated in exactly the same positions that they had been laid originally.

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The restoration team found that their biggest challenge was factoring in the services. It was essential that Cashel Palace was upgraded with modern day heating, electricity, plumbing and wifi without changing its look, and without making holes in the walls or damaging the wonderful timber panelling.

Much of the timber panelling was original early-18th century panelling and it was in excellent condition. All we had to do was repair a few large holes which had been made for services in the past. The original panelling can be found in three areas, including Cashel Palace’s new reception area. Panelling had existed elsewhere throughout the house but this had been removed a long time ago, probably the 19th century, when upgrading was carried out on the interiors and panelling was perceived as old fashioned.

We are delighted that the hotel still retains many of the building’s original internal doors as well. Several date from the late-18th century and others from the early-19th century, reflecting the many changes. Where we needed new fire doors, we added them, but these all replaced newer doors that were most likely added in the 1990s. The fireplaces at Cashel Palace are exceptional features and these have been carefully restored by a small team of experts and stone conservationists. They have not just been brought back to life, they have had detailed restoration work done, such as the splicing together of stone and specialist polishing to ensure they look as impressive as when they were first unveiled all those centuries ago. The large fireplace in the main hall contains a backplate that is embellished with the Bishop of Cashel’s coat of arms; this beautiful detail provided us with the inspiration for Cashel Palace’s distinctive logo.
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One of the hotel’s most notable features are the windows, which are certainly over 150-years-old. While it is unlikely that these were the originals, they are believed to be early 19th century. We kept all of the old glass, carefully removing each window by hand so that our experts could repair them. Any missing timber was replaced with new timber, and, while you won’t find double glazing or anything so modern here, you will find wonderful old shutters for extra warmth.

The restoration of Cashel Palace was heavily dependent on the talents of a magnificent team of craftspeople. These experts brought their skills in many areas, working with lead, stone, brick, wood and plaster. All of the building’s ornate plasterwork was restored, with new plaster ceilings put in where they were missing. Everywhere you look, inside and out, you will find the meticulous work of master craftspeople.
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