A journalist from the Irish Times has reported how he climbed one of the tallest cranes in Dublin to get a snapshot of the current construction development and a view of what the city looks like from 262-feet above the ground.
“Climbing a crane gives you a whole new perspective on the risks and dangers of working in construction,” writes Justin Comiskey, who was taken up an 80-meter crane by Eoin Redmond, the site manager for Walls Construction at the Project Wave development in the docklands.
“Climbing the crane involves scaling 13 six-metre sections. Each has a metal ladder, set at about an 80-degree angle, and this is surrounded by a cylindrical skeleton to negate a fall backwards. At the top of each ladder is a platform of thick wire mesh which gives access to the next ladder and so on up. The starting point for each ladder is the center of the mast and you climb out towards the frame,” he writes.
“…We break at the top of the third section. There’s not a breath of wind and the view over docklands is beginning to open up as a giant cruise liner berths in Dublin Port and a Luas tram rumbles along behind us on Mayor Street. What strikes you instantly is the amount of vacant space in this part of docklands between the Convention Centre and the Point Depot. Most of the riverfront plots are now being readied for construction but there is a considerable amount of land ripe for development away from the Liffey.”
When he finally reaches the platform at the top of the crane, he writes “The 360-degree views are sensational and a feeling of elation sets in at having completed the climb. So I chance a look down and what an OMG! moment this is. The workmen below are mere dots and my knees almost buckle at the distance down.”
For the crane operator, 32-year-old Shane Kierans from Bailieborough, Co Cavan, the dizzying height is “no bother, you get used to it.”
“I’m making good money, over a grand a week,” he says. “But there’s other crane operators in this city who’re only earning €16 an hour. That’s not enough for the risks involved and the time spent suspended in mid-air on your own.
“A lot of us in the building game suffered big-time because of the bust – and not just financially, as it’s tough when you’ve four kids and you can’t buy them things they want. A lot of my friends and family in construction emigrated.”
About spending half his day 80 meters over Dublin city, he says: “Although we’re very busy, there’s no one giving yeh guff up here, no hassles. I like the peace and quiet. Watching the sun rise over Dublin Bay is something else, too.”
The Irish Times Crane Survey, showing “a snapshot of surging construction activity in the capital,” began in February, when 34 cranes were counted over Dublin’s skyline from the seventh floor of the newspaper’s headquarters on Tara Street. The survey is conducted monthly to track the city's construction levels. In September, the number of cranes in stood at 46.
Seán Downey, who is the director of specialist contracting at the Construction Industry Federation, said that the industry believes that the number of visible tower cranes “understates the true level of building activity in the city.”
“There are perhaps three mobile cranes operating ‘under the radar’, so to speak, for every large visible tower crane on the Dublin skyline. These mobile cranes are working on other commercial industrial and commercial construction projects,” he said.
“Having anticipated the upturn in the construction activity, Irish crane companies have already procured new cranes and have adequate plant to meet demand forecast. With billion-euro construction projects for companies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Alexion, Facebook and Google coming online, Irish crane companies are reporting more activity and see a pipeline of work in the medium term,” he said.