Conservation of Sligo’s Metal Man Begins

Conservation of Sligo’s Metal Man Begins The Metal Man, Rosses Point, Co. Sligo. Courtesy of the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Conservation works have started on Sligo’s Metal Man, a 19th century navigation beacon which is located mid channel between Rosses Point and Oyster Island in Co. Sligo.

The Metal Man has marked the safe approach for shipping and marine craft to Sligo Harbour since 1821.  The works will see the conservation of the Metal Man, which stands arm outstretched, atop a limestone plinth.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage 2020 allocated a grant of €25,000 under the Historic Structures Fund 2020 to Sligo County Council for works to conserve the Metal Man.  Match funding is also being provided by Sligo County Council.

Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council, Councillor Dara Mulvey said:

‘I am delighted to welcome this funding under the Historic Structure Fund for the conservation of the Metal Man, which is such an important feature of the coastal heritage of Rosses Point and which is held dear by many’.

Chair of Sligo Heritage Forum, Councillor Donal Gilroy added:

‘If we as a community value our heritage, then we must also take steps to care for and invest in it for the benefit of all.  The Departments support for the Metal Man project is very welcome and I very much look forward to seeing the successful conclusion of the project’.

The project is being undertaken as a joint effort between the Infrastructure Directorate and the Heritage Office of Sligo County Council.  The project is complex and has been extremely challenging to bring on site due to its location mid channel, the extent of the conservation works required, as well as the health and safety and environmental requirements that need to be met.

Key Local Authority personnel involved in the delivery of the heritage project include; Tom Kilfeather Director of Service, Brian Flynn Senior Resident Engineer, Declan Noone Acting Senior Executive Engineer and Siobhán Ryan Heritage Officer with Sligo County Council.

The conservation, cleaning and painting of the Metal man will be undertaken by Maintenance Painting Systems Ltd on behalf of Sligo County Council.   Conservation oversight is being provided by Duncan McLaren of Dedalus Architecture, while the role of Project Supervisor Design Process will be undertaken by RPS on behalf of Sligo County Council.

Attendance to and from the Metal Man is being provided by Daryl Ewing of Ewing’s Sea Angling & Boat Charters, while scaffold has been carefully erected by John Griffin and his team at Sligo Scaffold Hire.  Albany Decorplan Sligo together with Bradite Industrial Coatings have generously sponsored the materials which will see the Metal Man celebrating his 200th birthday in style next year.

The duration of the project is expected to be two weeks, but this will be subject to weather conditions.

The Metal Man has been a source of inspiration to many, including Jack B. Yeats who depicted the structure in his painting ‘Memory Harbour”.  More recently the ‘Save the Metal Man’ campaign highlighted the deteriorating condition of the beacon and lobbied for its conservation. 

The beacon is a protected structure and is included in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as being a feature of regional importance.

The Metal Man was previously maintained by the Commissioners of Irish Lights, but when Sligo Harbour came under the jurisdiction of Sligo County Council, the maintenance of the Metal Man was also transferred to the Local Authority.

The Metal Man, who is an identical twin to the Metal Man at Tramore, Co. Waterford, was established on Perch Rock in 1821.  The beacon has a range of 7 miles and a character of Fl (3) W 6.1 seconds that is synchronised with Oyster Island.  Since 2003, the light is exhibited in hours of darkness only.