Experts in conservation, restoration and social housing

21 Jan , 2020  

As well as being conservation and restoration experts, Francis Haughey Construction also specialise in social housing schemes and offer keen design-and-build solutions for commercial premises. We had a chat with Pat Haughey to get an update on this exceptional family business.

Established in 1974, Francis Haughey Construction is a leading conservation and restoration company specialising in, but not limited to cathedrals, churches, period buildings, castles and any other buildings that require high levels of expertise and craftsmanship.

A family-run business with a dedicated and skilled workforce, they have successfully delivered projects on schools, new buildings, design & build, civil works, housing and listed buildings – including refurbishment and new build works.

Having developed an unrivalled reputation across the industry, with public and private bodies alike, Francis Haughey Construction boast the expertise and capacity to carry out works island-wide. All works are carried out in a friendly, co-operative and flexible manner, overcoming any potential obstacles along the way to ensure that the finished project meets the requirements of the client – invariably on time and within budget.

The County Armagh headquartered company specialises in lime plastering using traditional methods to repair and restore lath ceilings and walls, bringing them back to what they looked like in years gone by, skilfully recapturing that timeless period. Indeed, using their unique skills, they have created their own interpretation for various projects, seamlessly blending refurbed elements in with the historic, natural fabric of the existing building.

The relationship Francis Haughey Construction has developed with customers, design teams, neighbours and suppliers is instrumental in the success of all their projects, Francis and his 20-strong team working hard to ensure that the business is sustainable not only within itself but also ensuring that wide-ranging positives are also seen in terms of social, economic and environmental benefits for all parties.

The company is adaptable and embraces innovation to move with the times, whilst at its core is the strongly held belief that hard work and open relationships are key to enduring sustainability, viability and longevity as a conservation / restoration / building contractor of choice.

Some of the stunning conservation projects completed in the not-too-distant past by Francis Haughey Construction include Malahide Castle, Church of Ireland Cathedral Armagh and Carrickmacross Courthouse, to mention just a few.

For the former, Fingal County Council entrusted the Armagh-based firm with the task of restoring the famous castle to its former glory and, as per usual, they didn’t disappoint. Their input and expertise to the project was highly valued and, as well as working on the castle and the interpretive centre, they also completed extensive works in the secret garden and the Cambridge greenhouse.

The refurbishment of Malahide Castle was undertaken with strict working guidelines from Fingal Architects and attending archaeologists. This refurbishment included new electricity supplies, new electrical installations to meet current regulations including fire regulations, new tiling, new lighting, new lift installations, new doors and ironmongery, all undertaken to ensure that the fabric of the building was left intact.

Meanwhile, The Red Stables in St. Annes Park, Raheny, Dublin comprised a conversion and extension to existing stables to form individual residential and working artists’ studios, accommodation with public gallery spaces and tea rooms

At Whaleys Buildings, Castle Street, Armagh, work was undertaken for Hearth Housing Association involving the restoration of 14 Georgian buildings. The roofs of many of the houses had collapsed, dragging down upper floors and some had basements of indeterminate depth full of sodden plaster and rotting timbers. The houses dating from 1773 were built from Armagh marble. This scheme was awarded a Diploma of Merit by Europa Nostra in 1995.

Francis Haughey Construction have also undertaken numerous housing projects catering for social housing requirements, new energy efficient requirements and private builds.

One of these was St. Agatha Court, Dublin 1 for the Peter McVerry Trust. This project was completed with 11 new units made available for the PMVT trust to add to their growing portfolio of properties, incorporating ten one-bed apartments and one two-bed townhouse with zinc roofs, PV panels, a platform lift, parking bays, green areas and benches. In keeping with Francis Haughey Construction’s renowned craftsmanship and expert touch, this project design enhances the area and provides top class accommodation.

Elsewhere, in February, 2016, Francis Haughey completed 50 new social housing units – comprising 39 refurbished units and 11 new builds and a social community unit – at Ballygall Road East, Dublin for FOLD Ireland.  This project commenced in November, 2013 with the new builds commencing in April, 2015. All these homes featured external insulation, new electrics and heating systems, new walkways with lifts, Tunstall alert and access systems, new balconies and walkways.

Recently completed projects include a 24-unit social housing scheme in Balbriggan for Fingal County Council and a 17-unit social housing scheme in Ratoath for Meath County Council, which was finished this summer. “We’re doing another one in Inchicore for ALONE Housing, comprising the refurbishment of an existing block of 26 studio apartments into new living spaces to accommodate ten people,” reveals Pat Haughey.

Social housing schemes have become a big part of the weekly workload. “We like to keep the conservation work going as well,” says Pat. “Before the crash, we did private developments on our own sites but now we concentrate on tendering for public works. We’ve been in business since 1974 and we actually started out doing social housing for the old NI Housing Executive, so we have the skillset and experience to deliver social housing schemes to the very highest standard.”

Although based in County Armagh, most of Francis Haughey Construction’s work is carried out south of the border these days. One landmark project this year has been the repair and conservation of The Casino, a famous 19th-century thatched cottage in Malahide, for Fingal County Council. An extension was added to the rear of the building, which will be the new home for the Cyril Fry Model Railway, relocated from Malahide Castle.

The Casino has been refurbished and rethatched and looks fantastic. Traditional lime plastering and stone masonry techniques were deployed, traditional timber windows restored. “Any aspect of the cottage that could be conserved, was conserved,” Pat confirms.

Last year, Francis Haughey Construction refurbished and conserved Newbridge House & Farm, working extensively on the outbuildings, adding a new cafeteria for visitors and new gravel and paving on the grounds.

Carrickmacross Market House and Clones Market House have been refurbished for Monaghan County Council, while Francis Haughey Construction also lent their expertise to University Club, Kildare Street – a listed building where work to preserve the traditional look included internal refurbishment and restoration of bathrooms with lime plastering methods used extensively.

Diligent, skilled and vastly experienced personnel are at the heart of the business. Twenty people are employed directly as present, as well as subcontractors. As a family-run business, Francis Haughey Construction instils the highest standards of workmanship with a keen personal touch.

“Francis is skilled as a bricklayer himself and he works on-site,” Pat points out. “His son Padraig and daughter Geraldine Quinn are also involved in the business. We find that a family member will always take the work and the company very seriously.

“My father Michael was a stonemason and he had all the skills. If you asked him to build a house, he could do everything, including the joinery work. Apart from the wiring and plumbing, he could do everything else. His two nephews – my cousins – also had all the trades.”

Quality service and fostering strong relationships have been central to Francis Haughey Construction’s enduring success down through the decades. “If you do a job right, you’ll get repeats,” Pat concludes. “We work closely with people and build relationships. We have strong relationships with local authorities and other bodies and we intend to maintain them by continuing to deliver high-quality conservation, restoration and social housing work.”

Francis Haughey Construction,

21-23 St Patricks Street,


County Armagh,

BT60 3TQ.

Phone: +44 (0)28 37 531 391

Fax: +44 (0)28 37 538 739

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.francishaughey.com

Taken from Building Ireland Magazine, September, Vol 5 No 9