Portlaoise Main Street was closed to Christmas shoppers and traffic this morning, Thursday December 23, to allow for the emergency removal of a chimney in danger of falling on to the street.
The street was closed from 9am to lunchtime, with the work done during stormy weather.
The chimney was a threat to lives, according to Michael Grogan from Blue Sky Mortgages, occupier of Mercantile House on 52/53 Main Street.
"There was debris threatened and there was a dangerous crack, we had identified it some two months ago but it wasn’t done. There was a storm and heavy winds threatened for tonight, and the danger became critical, in actual fact there would be lives in danger here, if that chimney had a gust of wind and blew down. It weighs at least three quarters of a tonne in weight," Mr Grogan said.
The chimney was unusually constructed he said.
"It’s mass concrete around the flue, normally that would be sand and gravel, it was very well built and more difficult to remove," he said, adding that it would be rebuilt at a later date.
He was notified of the danger on Wednesday said Mr Grogan, who was overseeing the chimney's removal.
"We had a phone call yesterday evening to tell us there was a chimney in danger of falling. We had to come immediately this morning to remove the blockage and make the chimney safe, we needed to have everything right for Santa," he said, adding that "as many as possible" nearby residents were given notice of the works.
"It was an emergency and we have reacted so Santa is good to go tomorrow night," Mr Grogan said.
The street was closed at 9am with the consent of An Garda Siochana and the council, and reopened at lunchtime.