A program of essential conservation repairs to the medieval monastic site on Devenish Island has now been completed, at a cost of £122,000.
The essential repairs were undertaken by the Department for Communities (DfC), which looks after more than 180 historic monuments across Northern Ireland.
During repairs, some locals were surprised to see a helicopter ferrying a utility vehicle to the island, with some wondering why it hadn’t been transported by boat.
“During mobilization, water levels on the Lough were too low to facilitate the transport by boat of all the necessary materials and equipment to the island, without extensive ground protection measures and additional machinery,” explained one. DfC spokesperson, noting that using a helicopter for this purpose proved “more cost effective, faster and less risky of disturbing underground archaeological remains, as materials and equipment could be dropped in the exact working areas”.
‘The hire of the helicopter for mobilization and demobilization cost £12,000, and this figure is included in the total cost of conservation repairs,’ the DfC spokesman added.
The repairs, which were undertaken primarily to consolidate high-level masonry in specific areas of the island’s standing ruins, took place largely out of season, when visitor numbers were low.
The DfC spokesperson said: “During the conservation works, access to the island was not restricted, but areas of the site were cordoned off before and during the works.
“The conservation work has taken place during the quieter months of the year when visitor numbers are low, so there has been very little disturbance.”
Speaking of the importance of conservation repairs, the DfC spokesperson added: “The Department has a duty to protect and conserve these monuments for future generations.
“It also has a legal obligation to provide safe public access, where possible. The medieval monastic remains on Devenish Island are one of our most important sites and a hugely important tourist attraction for the county. »