Project Updates

Welcome to the first edition of the Roche Ireland Ltd Clarecastle Project Updates.

The purpose of these Updates is to keep you informed of the work involved in demolition and remediation of the Roche site at Clarehill, Clarecastle, Co Clare. Each edition will outline the work underway at that specific point and also give you insights into the technical elements of the project.

We will also introduce you to the people who are working diligently to ensure that the project is completed to the highest standards.

As an introduction, my name is Joe Murphy. I am the current project owner on the Clarecastle site having recently taken over from Gerry Cahill, who was the Managing Director and project owner.

A qualified industrial chemist, I started my career with Roche (originally Syntex) in the 1980s and enjoyed working at the Clarecastle site in various roles covering safety/environment, quality and logistics until I left Roche in 2016 to work for Avara Pharmaceutical Ltd in Shannon. I was offered the opportunity to succeed Gerry in April 2021 and am delighted to take on the role.
Roche is committed to keeping the local community informed about the progress of the decommissioning project. Should you have any queries about the project, please contact us at:
The Clarecastle Site
Roche Ireland Ltd Clarecastle has had a long and proud history of achievements and was lucky to attract many highly skilled and motivated employees who succeeded in every challenge that faced the site for over 45 years of its existance.
Like all businesses, the site had to adapt to the changing environment in which it operated. All the infrastructure and manufacturing equipment on-site was designed to manufacture medicinal products for our patients using chemical processes. However, as products for the future are now produced using primarly biological process-driven technology, it was not possible to retrofit the site in Clarecastle to utilise this technology. Despite the best efforts over the past number of years, a viable future for the site was not possible and the inevitable decision was taken to cease all operations at the site.
Roche Corporate Values
In line with its corporate values, Roche has always demonstrated its commitment to respect employees, the community, and the environment. In this context, even though the site is closing, Roche is committed to leaving a positive legacy in Clarecastle through returning a site to the region with no environmental risks remaining, once all the remediation activities have been completed.
These commitments go beyond just legal requirements but are the values that Roche is committed to. The Company, through, the demolition and remediation plan for the site, is now delivering on these values in a real and tangible manner.
The Decommissioning Project
The demolition and remediation of the Clarecastle site will be undertaken over a number of years. The initial phases have started and following the successful securing of Planning for the project, we will proceed with the demolition of all on-site buildings before remediating areas of the site where there are risks of soil contamination.
While this is a very significant project and will cause some level of disruption during execution (up to end 2024), Roche is committed to having a site that can be returned to the region, so that another industry or commercial venture can provide a sustainable future to the area.
Project Phases / The Project in Pictures

Note: Project timelines are indicative only and subject to change based on regulatory requirements or Covid-19 restrictions/requirements.


1.      Clean to Shell 
2.      Demolition 
3.      Remediation      

All phases of the project are managed by a Roche project team, led by the Project Manager; this team is supported by external contractors. All operations are being carried out to the highest safety and environmental standards.

Phase 1 - Clean to Shell

The first phase of the project, ‘Clean to Shell’ involved:

  1. Cleaning any residual contamination from the equipment, either in place or by removing it to a dedicated area for treatment;
  2. Removing the equipment and piping from the buildings using specialised mechanised equipment to ensure that the process was carried out in the safest possible manner as possible; and
  3. Sorting this material into various categories, for example, metal, timber etc., before transporting it off-site for recycling or disposal.

This phase was completed in June 2021.


Aerial views of the Tank Farm and Contractors' Compound before and after demolition.


Machinery used during the 'Clean to Shell' and 'Demolition' phases - Brokk demolition robot used to remove equipment from buildings (left) and high-reach machine being used during demolition (right).

Phase 2 – Demolition
With the equipment removed from the buildings and the external piping disconnected and taken away, the second phase, ‘Demolition’, commenced in June 2021, This phase involves the demolition of all structures across the site to ground level. Specialised demolition equipment will be used to ensure that the process is carried out in the safest possible manner. These materials will then be sorted and transported off-site, similar to the ‘Clean to Shell’ phase. It is expected that approximately 30,000 tonnes/3,000 truckloads of material will be transported off site arising from this work.

The demolition phase is scheduled to be completed by March 2022.

Phase 3 - Remediation   
This phase, which will commence in the first or second quarter of 2022, will involve the removal of soil from those areas of the site where there are risks of contamination. Detailed planning for this phase is currently in progress and we are working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to secure the necessary environmental licenses for this activity. More details to follow in subsequent Project Updates.
A Changing Skyline

While the 'Clean to Shell' phase has not had any visual impact, the next phase, the 'Demolition' phase, will have a big impact, as the skyline that we have all been so familiar with over the past 45 years will change.

The photos below provide an example of the changes that can be expected once the 'Demolition' phase is completed towards the end of the year. The photos on the right show how the skyline view from the R458 will change.

Roche May 2021 - before Pic-1
Roche May 2021 - after Pic-1
Roche May 2021 - before Pic-5
Roche May 2021 - after Pic-5
Facilitating Clare Fire and Rescue Service Training

It was very fitting, given Roche Clarecastle’s long association with Clare Fire and Rescue Service, that we were able to respond to a request from Chief Fire Officer, Denis O’Connell, to facilitate a breathing apparatus (BA) training exercise in the now-empty Research & Administration (R&A) building on site. The unusual layout of the building was perfect for this type of training and marked the final use of the building.

A Commitment to the Community
Since its arrival in Clarecastle, Roche has always been proud to be associated with the site and the community. We value the support that has been given to Roche by the local community – the Community Liaison Group (CLG) provides an excellent link with the community. Roche has also been supported by Clare County Council as well as other key regulatory bodies such as the EPA and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and we commit to engaging with these groups and organisations as well as all other stakeholders during the execution of this project.