The scene a short time ago as volunteers clean the ivy off the stone above the clock Picture: Thomas Gallagher
After a five year gap Ballyshannon’s iconic town clock will have two new faces by the end of today (Friday).
In 2014 the south face of the clock was badly damaged by a storm and had to be removed. The boarded up facade was unsightly, but at the time there was no alternative to leaving it safe, if rather ugly looking. The north face remains intact.
But today, on a crisp, bright autumn morning, that’s all about to change and by nightfall the group behind the project hope to have new faces on both sides of the clock.
Built in 1878, the town clock is probably the most photographed and the most instantly recognisable building in the town.
If all goes to plan today the new faces will be in place. However, more work needs to be done in the coming weeks to then get the clock back working. For now the hands on both sides of the clock will be set at 12 o’clock.
The scene earlier this morning as the huge crane moved into position and traffic management kicked in for the duration of today's work to return the clock to its former glory
Early this morning a group of volunteers moved in to organise a stop/go traffic plan to allow the huge crane which will hoist the 7’6” stainless steel faces, to take up position. This stop/go system will continue until circa 5pm.
Two years ago a group of locals got together to see if they could raise money to get the clock repaired and a whole series of fundraising events and donations later, they had amassed just over €14,000 which allowed them to embark on the project to return the clock to its former glory.
Local councillor Barry Sweeny and the Regeneration Group of which he is a founding member, were the driving force behind the fundraising effort, but the purchase of the clock building late last year by local businessman Eamonn McNulty gave the project a whole new impetus.
“When Eamonn bought the building he added a new energy to this effort and like the rest of us, he really wanted to see the clock back working again, he has done huge work already on the internal cogs and workings of the clock and he deserves great credit for helping us push on with this,” said Barry.
He said: “A few people got together and we talked about putting up a wooden face to make it look better. We started then to look at a metal face, and getting the hands back on. We went from that to deciding we may as well do the whole job and restore the clock properly.
“One of the great things about this project is that it is made locally by our talented craftspeople. We have the stainless steel face, the painting. The original clock hands were wooden and we have had new wooden hands made locally too.”
About the clock
The town clock was built in 1878 as the result of an agreement between the planning authorities and Belfast Bank. In return for planning permission, the bank's owners agreed to construct the town clock.
The building was later occupied by the Royal Bank until an amalgamation with the Provincial Bank to form Allied Irish Bank in 1966.
The well-known Gallogley family operated a jewellery and clock business there. In late 2018 Mr McNulty bought the building.