Restoration and remodelling jobs on listed buildings can be intimidating. Every authentic aspect of the building must be retained and respected by all of the contractors on the site. So, when the building is also a high profile and prestigious destination hotel such as the Adare Manor Hotel and Estate in County Limerick, the stakes are very high indeed.

Historical refurbishment with sate of the art Fire Safety Duct
Photo credit: AdareManor.com

The stakeholders include not just the owners, but also the customers – locals who visit often and those who travel huge distances to enjoy the venue’s period charm. Installing Thor Duct ® fire duct into Adare Manor was smooth sailing, and now this much loved iconic building is protected by the best fire rated duct work available.

John Sisk was the builder, and the Kirby Group provided the mechanical services and coordinated the different contractors.

It was a massive undertaking, involving 670 construction workers toiling over two years under the supervision of a RIRA Grade 1 conservation architect. The project involved restoring the original building and constructing a new extension that blended in and reflected the property.

“The value of the project was more than the price,” said Michael Renaghan, Technical Lead at Air Force H&V Ltd. “ A building and facility of such outstanding beauty is of national importance, and maintaining the legacy for the future meant that every fixing, every joint, every seal had to be carefully completed, knowing the importance of the structure we had to work within. The project was completed in stages, as we co-ordinated with all the services on site to ensure minimum snagging, and allow restoration work to continue unhindered by modern services.”

Thor Duct’s Brief for Adare Manor

Food is a central part of the Adare Manor experience. The Oak Room restaurant recently earned a Michelin Star, and the award-winning afternoon tea is to die for! With weddings and business events playing a crucial role in the hotel, the ability to serve up magnificent cuisine is vital to the business. With so much activity in the kitchens, it makes sense to have the safest and most efficient fire rated duct work available installed.

Thor Duct ® won the contract to install extract venting in the hotel’s three kitchens. Over a period of six months, between two and four Thor Duct ® staffers were on site installing 1,000 square metres of ducting, mostly up risers. While working on a listed building is always a delicate business, in this instance the work was uncomplicated. The extract duct work did not have to run through any historic parts of the building as it was entirely inside existing risers. Ducting was also installed into the ballroom, which is in the new part of the building.

“It was a straightforward job for us,” said Tom Fynes, Business Development Manager at H&V Airforce Limited, creators of Thor Duct ®. “We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Adare Manor had its challenges like any job, but it was a typical install and an absolute pleasure to work on.”

While Adare Manor’s listed status and historic splendour were not obstacles for the Thor Duct ® crews on site, there was a lot at stake. Kitchens are a potentially dangerous location in any venue, even a private home. When you combine the cooking equipment and activities with a large number of staff under constant pressure to meet the demands of customers, the potential for accidents is significant. Therefore, fire rated extraction ducting has a key role. It is more likely to be tested here than in many other settings. Beyond the risk of fire, the extracts must pull a considerable volume of smoke and steam out of the air to maintain the kitchen’s efficiency and the quality of the foods prepared. The job demanded required detailed planning and methodical installation by the Thor Duct ® crew.

The Dining Room at Adare Manor
The Oak Room - Photo credit: AdareManor.com

Using Thor Duct ® in Historic Buildings

Not all ducting projects in historic buildings are as simple and straightforward as this one. But the appeal of premium fire rated duct work in such buildings is obvious. When a building is a noteworthy example of a particular era, it is irreplaceable. And older buildings are made of older materials – which lack the fire resistance of modern materials. This means that the owners of such buildings are aware of the critical importance of taking all steps possible to mitigate the risk of fire or smoke damage.

Ideally, ductwork can be installed in existing ceiling spaces, risers and the like to keep it concealed so it does not detract from the building’s character. In this project, the crew was able to locate the cleaning doors so they were co-ordinated with other services to minimise disruption during future cleaning operations. Coordination between all contractors is important on every job, but for a historic building it is vital because some of the work is so delicate. Having a qualified conservation architect on site to supervise also ensured that none of the work inadvertently undermined the period features of the building.

“The challenge of working in a listed building required our most experienced employees being allocated to the job, together with detailed work plans and oversight during the install,” said Michael Renaghan. “Snag as you go was the order of the day. We needed to provide adequate time for site preparation, and having a close working relationship on site was paramount in delivering for Adare Manor.”

Installing any type of duct work in a historic building poses challenges. Those challenges are not any greater working with Thor Duct ®, yet the benefits are significantly higher. The protection offered by superior, fire rated duct work brings value that competitors can’t match, giving Thor Duct ® Licensed Manufacturers a real edge when competing for this type of project.

All About Adare Manor

The masterpiece that is Adare Manor began as a project to stave off boredom when the property owner became ill. In 1832, the Second Earl of Dunraven developed a painful case of gout, which kept him from his favourite pursuits. His wife, Lady Caroline, encouraged him to devote himself to their plans to transform their Georgian mansion into the Neo-Gothic home of their dreams. The earl travelled widely around Europe, seeking out architectural inspiration. His vision became clear, and he began hiring the area’s best craftspeople and builders. The timing meant that Adare Manor became a source of employment and survival for many locals during the great famine of the 1840s.

The design of the new house was quite clever. Described as a calendar house, it has 356 leaded windows, 52 ornate chimneys, seven stone pillars and four towers representing the days, weeks and seasons. The structure reflects the jubilant flair for style that was the family’s hallmark. The rooms are on a grand scale for lavish parties. Gargoyles and other mythical beasts appear throughout along with heraldry, giving it a lively and personal feel despite the large scale. The estate comprises 840 acres laid out in formal gardens and woodlands and includes a collection of ancient Ogham stones brought from Co. Kerry by the third Earl of Dunraven.

Visiting such a spectacular property is a treat, and working on its restoration is an honour and a delight.

“It was a successful project for us,” Fynes said. “ It is always good to work on these marquee buildings. If it’s good enough for Adare Manor, it’s good enough.”

Historical refurbishment with sate of the art Fire Safety Duct
The Great Hall in the Spectacular Adare Manor - Photo Credit: AdareManor.com