Tragedy struck the renovations at Ss Peter and Pauls church on the west bank of Athlone yesterday (October 8 ) with the sudden death of one of the workmen on the site.
It is believed that at a little before noon, a 56-year-old steeplejack collapsed on the scaffolding surrounding the riverside tower but died despite over an hour’s attempts at resuscitation between colleagues and paramedics.
“He had been complaining of chest pains earlier in the morning but refused to come down,” a stunned colleague said.
The name of the deceased is not being released until next-of-kin are informed.
The descent from the 38m (126 ft ) tower was aided by a mobile crane which had only arrived on site that morning to assist with the ongoing €500,000 renovations at the 60-year-old church.
The towers have been clad in scaffolding for over eight months since the church authorities decided the twin campinili had become unsafe after some masonry fell into the church yard and an area had to be sectioned off.
On inspection by specialist steeplejack firm, Rainey Church and Masonry Restoration, the damage to the upper reaches was deemed greater than first thought and the year-long €0.5m project was embarked upon.
Work at the site was stopped yesterday as a mark of respect for the deceased.