Tradition and culture the hallmarks of every StoneCon project

12 Apr , 2024  

Operating out of Belmullet in County Mayo, StoneCon Ltd. is firmly established as Ireland’s premier stonemasonry contractor, bringing a wealth of expertise and experience to a vast range of projects island-wide. Building Ireland touched base with director and founder Kay Walsh to find out more about this industry-leading company, which has been shortlisted for a 2023 Irish Construction Industry Award.

From humble beginnings in the west of Ireland in 2005, StoneCon has developed into Ireland’s leading stonemasonry contractor, marrying exceptional natural products with excellent craftsmanship to consistently deliver breath-taking projects nationwide.

Covering everything from residential projects, commercial stonework, roadworks and bridges to marine and coastal stonework, conservation, restoration and repointing using various lime mixes, StoneCon sets the standard when it comes to stonemasonry, invariably delivering every project on time, within budget and to exceed client expectations.

Unerring attention to detail, quality, care and immaculate workmanship shine through on every StoneCon project. The company’s track record for excellence is unrivalled and their portfolio of completed projects the length and breadth of Ireland stands as a lasting testament to their capabilities.

Suffice to say that each project is a monument to a remarkable revival in traditional stonecraft, which – through the skilled and specialist use of natural products – is instrumental in preserving our natural identity and culture in buildings and structures, something director Kay Walsh (who established StoneCon 18 years ago) is understandably immensely proud of:

“Stone is a natural product and it is an inherent part of our culture, heritage and national identity. It is extremely important that we preserve that,” the Mayo woman comments. “This is our culture, particularly here in the west of Ireland, where we are known for our stone walls and where stone has always been an inherent part of the landscape. It’s part of who we are.”

StoneCon possesses an uncanny ability to blend new products into an existing landscape traditionally known for stone walls and buildings and cobblestone streets and pavings, forming an unbreakable bond between past, present and future. “Stone is also low maintenance, looks great and doesn’t discolour,” Kay continues. “As a traditional building material, it allows us to exhibit who and what we are. The natural qualities of stone building are endless – it offers aesthetics, culture, soul and performance.”

At the heart of StoneCon is a highly-skilled team of master craftsmen, painstakingly assembled over the years, nay decades. Combining proven expertise, clear vision, tireless leadership and excellent products, Kay and her business partner Caroline Dixon have hit upon a winning formula that has seen them work on an array of civil, infrastructure and construction projects alongside a who’s who of Tier One main contractors including Coffey Construction, Will Bros, BAM, JJ Rhatigan and Ward & Burke, to mention just a handful.

StoneCon’s reputation for excellence precedes them industry-wide now and they have been shortlisted in the prestigious Subcontractor of the Year category at this year’s Irish Construction Industry (ICI) awards.

“I established the business in 2005 and started out with three stonemasons,” Kay reflects. “Construction was swinging at the time and stonework had started to come back. We started off on residential projects – doing stonework on the facades in estates of 20+ houses – and very quickly grew and multiplied on the crest of the boom. Due to strong demand, the business has changed and evolved over the years and we now offer all kinds of stonemasonry work.

“From the beginning, I used Slovakian stonemasons and they have been instrumental in the success of the business. Today, we have a team of 40 and 35 of those are Slovakian stonemasons. Slovakia is built on very good natural quarry stone and they produce highly-skilled, qualified craftsmen. We brought them in and made that connection and maintained it. We hit a vein and held onto it.”

No matter how advanced construction becomes and how much the industry strives to change and reinvent itself, there will always be a place for traditional stone in beautiful buildings and structures. “Things were highly concentrated on housing estates for the first couple of years and then we hit the recession,” Kay recalls. “Stone then became hugely popular again in structural projects and we found that local authorities preferred to use stone walling over block walls. While the housing estates were parked, we did accommodation for roadworks and anything from a pillar cap to a doorstep. We had enough work to get us comfortably through the recession.

“One of the main reasons for our company being so successful today, in a climate where labour is so difficult to source, is that we have tapped into that vein of qualified stonemasons from Slovakia and I have prioritised maximising my contacts out there so that we can source further skilled craftsmen when we need them.”

As the managing director of StoneCon, Kay’s primary objective is to ensure the steady and balanced flow of three things: work, men and money. “One follows on from the other and I am constantly looking at the order books and asking ‘have I enough work?’, ‘do I have enough men to carry out that work?’ and ‘have I money to pay them?’ You have to be able to gauge the market, know the business inside-out and know how much to charge. It takes a lot of time but you have to keep on top of it and give customers the quality products and workmanship they deserve.”

From accommodation / boundary works on roads to facades on multinational retail outlets such as Lidl and Aldi, bridge rehabilitations, contemporary self-builds, conservation / restoration works, primary care centres, schools and much, much more besides, StoneCon – who are currently working on NRA bypasses in Listowel, County Kerry and Moycullen, County Galway – always go above and beyond to tie every project in seamlessly with its natural, local surroundings.

“If, for example, we are doing flood defences in Cork, we will source the stone locally,” Kay explains. “Each region in Ireland has its own inherent stone type and we use the building stone that matches that, be that limestone, sandstone, granite, slate or quartz.

“It’s mainly limestone in the west, but if we are in Wicklow, we will use Wicklow granite. If we are pricing a job in Dublin, the first thing we’ll ask is whether the work is being done in North Dublin or South Dublin – North Dublin is limestone and South Dublin is granite. That’s all down to the natural stone under the ground. Galway is limestone but Mayo is sandstone, as is Cork. Kerry and Clare are slate, Donegal is quartz and Leitrim is sandstone.”

One thing that shines through when speaking with Kay is her boundless energy and the deep passion she has for stone, which is channelled into the day-to-day running of StoneCon. “It’s a difficult task but I do enjoy what I’m doing,” she concludes. “We pride ourselves on being a very professional outfit with a clean-cut image and a strong brand. Our stonemasons wear well-labelled uniforms and our vans also display our professional approach.

“We are very transparent and answer the phone all the time to talk to customers and help them out with any queries they might have. My sons work here and Caroline, who is manager, helps me run the business. She does all the pricing. We have different strengths but are compatible and work very well together.”

StoneCon Ltd.,

Tallagh Road,


County Mayo.

Tel: 086 8240665

Email: [email protected]

Web: stonecon.ie

This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, April 2024, Vol 10 No 4