Water damage and falling plaster in Leinster House raises fears for famous paintings

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Water damage and falling plaster in Leinster House raises fears for famous paintings

THE Office of Public Works is keeping a close eye on a famous painting of the first Dáil Éireann and valuable portraits of Ireland’s ex-taoisigh amid concerns over damp, water damage, and falling plaster in Leinster House.

A small portion of the ceiling at the top of a staircase leading to the Dáil Chamber fell late last summer with internal emails saying there appeared to be “a lot of water damage”.

The email also warned of peeling paint and plaster and asked for an urgent inspection to take place.

The message from the Superintendent’s Section of Leinster House said: “Another concern I would have is the potential for damage to the portraits on the Taoiseach’s landing and in particular the portrait of the First Dáil Éireann above the entrance door to the chamber which [is] in the area worst affected.” In correspondence with the Office of Public Works, Leinster House officials said they had been able to seal the area off temporarily.

A small portion of the ceiling at the top of a staircase leading to the Dáil Chamber fell late last summer from what appeared to be water damage. Picture: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

“Obviously, we cannot keep it this way for long,” said an email. “Can I ask that you come on-site and assess the damage? You may also wish to assess the potential for damage to the portraits in the vicinity of the leak.” The Office of Public Works said their architects would be in “asap” to assess the extent of the damage and that the art department would carry out an assessment of potential for damage to the paintings.

They said that works to replace the roof in the “area of ​​concern” were planned as part of the next phase of works for the multi-million restoration and refurbishment of Leinster House.

No damage yet

Internal emails from OPW said an inspection had taken place and there had been no apparent damage to the paintings.

Art adviser, Jacquie Moore wrote: “I do recommend that the portraits are moved if it is likely in the short term that another similar issue could occur as several of them are directly located under areas where roof issues have occurred.” She also said while the historic painting of the ‘First Dáil’ had not been impacted; an assessment would be needed if construction works were to take place anywhere near it.

“We would need to assess whether to remove or temporarily cover it. Scaffolding will be required to remove it due to its scale.”

A statement from the OPW said: “The paintings in question are those of the former Taoisigh and are regularly monitored by Art Management. These paintings would be removed prior to any works commencing.” An Oireachtas spokeswoman said they were optimistic the issue had been mostly caused by the peeling of paint rather than damage to the ceiling or roof.

“The outcome was not as severe as the initial report might have suggested,” she said.