Work is under way to restore around 180,000 ornate floor tiles to their former glory at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.

A shellac finish was applied to the tiles as a protective layer several years ago.

However, the finish has not stood the test of the time and many of the tiles have become discoloured. It means the shellac now needs to be scraped away by hand.

"It's a 5,000-square-foot floor. It takes two to three minutes to scrape each tile, depending on its size," said materials specialist Carl Sands.

"There are two types of tiles on the cathedral floor - the original 13th century tiles and reproductions made in the 19th century."

"This building is a piece of art and so is the floor. The tiles are something visitors notice as they are very special," said Rev Abigail Sines.

The cathedral has appealed for volunteers to help with the tile restoration, saying "willing hands" should contact tiles@christchurch.ie.