Andrew and Brian Rooney are stone masons who run the business established by their father, Thomas Rooney & Sons, based near Slieve Binnian. They were employed to repair identified collapses along the extent of the iconic 22 mile Mourne Wall, a task which they completed within two years using traditional methods and skills.
The team of masons led by Andrew & Brian endured the same extremes of weather and the same long walk to commence their day’s work as their grandfather would have done when he worked on the original construction; with the team carrying their tools and supplies for up to 6km before starting a day’s physical labour. Much of the stone required to make the repairs was lying adjacent to the wall, including over 3,000 capping stones. Each stone weighed between 80 and 120kg and each was manually rolled up planks and into place. Additional capping stones to finish the repairs were helicoptered in from local quarries, and sized on site using the plug and feather method of splitting.
To reconstruct the wall required a huge amount of knowledge, skill and ability to ‘read the stone’ in order to work it and fit it together. The stonemasons were also conscious that they wished to minimise any impact on the European designated habitat surrounding the wall and helped to develop holistic solutions to problems faced in dealing with erosion.
The brothers and their team not only completed the repairs well under their allocated time of four years, but did so with passion, commitment and skill conserving both traditional methods, and the wall, for future generations.