MJ Clarke




– MJ Clarke completes refurbishment works at Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital

MJ Clarke & Sons’ refurbishment works at the Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital were completed under strict Covid-19 guidelines, but also at a time when building materials costs were increasing at an unprecedented rate.

In January 2021, MJ Clarke & Sons was contracted for the reconfiguration, refurbishment and modernisation of the Emergency Department and adjoining Radiology Department at the Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital, Adelaide Road, Dublin.

The brief

The brief comprised the improvement of the entrance area to these two departments, provision of a new reception and waiting area for both departments, new triage, secure drugs room, treatment rooms, ENT treatment rooms and telehealth room.

In addition, the contract also covered the provision of a new coffee dock, nurses’ station, and office area.

The works

All mechanical and electrical services were replaced and upgraded, a new services and communications room provided, and the existing services room refurbished and upgraded. Roof upgrade works consisted of the installation of a new fall arrest system, access ladder, and associated roof works to facilitate a new mechanical ventilation and heat recovery plant at roof level.

The contract also covered enabling works, demolitions, floor works, wall works and ceiling works.

Project challenges

MJ Clarke had to adhere to strict delivery dates on the programme and brought in a large team of specialist subcontractors and suppliers.

By the time the team was on site, there was already a strict Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedure in place that all of Clarke’s teams were operating under. But there was also the additional challenges of local labour shortages, a worldwide shortage of materials and massive hikes in materials prices.

MJ Clarke project manager Mattie Nelson explains how the team addressed these challenges: “Once the site opened, every person was fully aware of what was required of them under the Covid-19 guidelines. As much of the sector was shut down in early 2021, all of our teams were delighted to be on site and stuck rigidly to the rules. Our site guidelines included social distancing, mask-wearing, standard work protocols and dividing up the project into safe working areas.”

The biggest challenge was keeping personnel and hospital staff safe during various stages of the work. To do this, Clarkes adhered to all H&S guidelines and were able to keep to project deadlines.

“Although we were given the existing A&E section as our separate site,” Nelson continues, “We had to work within a shared environment with both hospital staff and members of the public/ patients. As we were working in a live hospital environment, we also had to be highly aware of the risk of contracting Aspergillus (A bacterial disease that affects persons with poor immune systems). We managed this through inductions, including the CIF Covid-19 online induction programme, monitoring staff and having sanitising stations and signage erected throughout the site.

“We also continually liaised with hospital management to ensure that we did not encroach on hospital activities.”

MJ Clarke project director John Clarke explains that in addition to operating under a Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedure, the project also suffered substantial delays with the delivery of materials due to Covid-19 and Brexit impacts.

“This made it extremely difficult to maintain the programme,” explains Clarke. “However, the design team and client understood the difficulties, and the on-site team were exceptional in how they dealt with all that was thrown at them.” John Clarke says that everyone is very proud of how the project went. “Despite all that happened, we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. The construction team were great and made a very good impression on the design team and client.” “Any refurbishment and upgrading are challenging at the best of times, but the added pressure of working in a live hospital environment with Covid-19 restrictions made this project much more complex.

MJ Clarke
Caroline Delahunty, Acting COO, Royal Victoria Ear & Ear Hospital

Client response

Commentating on the project, Caroline Delahunty, Acting Chief Operations Officer, Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital, says that she was acutely aware of the tight timeframe for completion and that there was no potential to extend the end date for the programme. “The contractors and their subcontractors worked in tandem to ensure that the programme ran smoothly, and the identified potential problems in advance to avoid any delays in completion,” Caroline Delahunty comments. “The project manager Mattie Nelson was a pleasure to work with at all times. I was particularly impressed with the team at large with their professionalism, quality of work, and consistent communication throughout the programme.”

MJ Clarke current works

MJ Clarke & Sons Ltd is currently pricing several significant projects, including medical facilities and hospitals. John Clarke concludes by saying: “Our work on the Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital showed our construction and management capabilities in the healthcare environment, and the success of the project has enabled us to make further substantial inroads into the medical facilities sector.”

The Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital

The Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital on Adelaide Road, Dublin, was established in 1895 following the amalgamation of the National Eye Hospital (founded in 1814 by Isaac Ryall) and St Mark’s Ophthalmic Hospital for Diseases of the Eye and Ear (founded by Sir William Wilde [Oscar Wilde’s father] in 1844). It is the only stand-alone hospital in ophthalmology and otolaryngology in Ireland and is a member of the World Association of Eye Hospitals (WAEH). The hospital was designed by architects Carroll & Batchelor, and the symmetrical building features Queen Anne style architecture.

Doctor Kathleen Lynn became the first female doctor to work in the hospital when she was appointed in 1910. She became an activist and politician noted for her involvement in the 1916 Easter Rising

Project summary

Project: Works to Emergency and Radiology Departments at Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital

Location: Adelaide Road, Dublin 2

Sector: Medical

Budget: €1.4m

Start Date: April 2021

Completion Date: August 2021

Health & Safety Record: Accident-free

Project team


Main Contractor: MJ Clarke & Sons Ltd

Quantity Surveyor: Michael Nolan

Project Director: John Clarke

Project Manager (MJ Clarke): Mattie Nelson

Architect: Reddy Architecture + Urbanism

Project Manager: Interactive Project Managers Limited

Fire Consultant: McCartney Smyth

C&S Engineer: O’Connor Sutton Cronin

M&E Engineer: JV Tierney

Quantity Surveyor: Deasy Walley Partnership

Health & Safety: DCON Safety Consultants

Subcontractors: L Redmond Electrical, PJ Duff y Mechanical, Boyne Park Interiors, John Lynch Flooring, KCC Doors, Winco, Breffni Mechanical, Jade Metal, Groundform, Skyway, Flamestop, Martin Tucker Decorators.

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