Council seeks to restore Kilkenny City's iconic Tholsel clock

The well known clock atop City Hall is deteriorating year on year and requires intervention

Sam Matthews


Sam Matthews



The north face of the clock on top of City Hall. Significant weathering and erosion of paint is visible

Kilkenny’s iconic City Hall clock looks set for a much-needed restoration, following a presentation made to members at Friday’s Municipal District meeting.

The four-faced clock is badly weathered, with the paint eroded on each side, while some of the clock hands have been bent out of shape by high winds and inclement weather over the years. Additionally, the machinery operating the clock and its chimes, in place since restoration following the fire of 1985, is outdated.

At present, there are two control panels — one driving the clock and the other ringing the bells. Senior engineer Simon Walton told members that one system could perform both, while the old weights-based clock movement system could be restored and displayed as an exhibit in the correct setting.

“The Tholsel clock is iconic and has only received routine maintenance or emergency works,” he said.

“It is deteriorating year on year. I’m not saying it’s about to fail, but there is an increasing risk of it becoming non-operational without some sort of [intervention].”

Mr Walton said the project, including the requisite scaffolding, would require a budget of about €25,000 to €30,000.

Mayor of Kilkenny Michael Doyle said the clock was iconic and should be maintained. Cllr Andrew McGuinness said it was a fair amount of money, but given what it meant to the people of Kilkenny, it was worthwhile.

“It’s a big deal for the people of Kilkenny to have this building maintained,” he said.

“I think we would be doing great justice by setting aside a plan of action and following [Mr Walton’s] recommendation, I propose we do that.”

Cllr Malcolm Noonan seconded the proposal.

“It’s something that is vitally important, as is this building,” he said.

“I ask we give consideration to internal restoration of the clock faces — the four faces.

The Green Party councillor said members should also consider a lighting scheme that would illuminate the clock faces across the city.

Mr Walton said he had not looked at internal and external illumination of the clock tower, but it could be considered. He said what was presently being proposed was to restore the clock faces, numbers, and dials to the standard they were when the tower reopened in 1985, and to introduce equipment that is more modern, involving a single operating system as opposed to the two in use.