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16/05/19 Thatch Repair Grant Scheme Announced

Thatch 1

Francis Cannon and his son Kevin rope thatching a cottage in Straboy, Glencolmcille.  West and north Donegal is one of the few areas where rope thatching is still practiced in Ireland. 

 

Have you got a thatched roof in need of repair?  Donegal County Council has announced a new Thatch Repair Grant Scheme to assist the owners and occupiers of thatched dwellings with their continued maintenance and use.  The grant scheme will provide specialist advice to owners on the conservation of thatched roofs, allocate funding for small-scale thatch repairs and help homeowners carry out necessary repairs under conservation supervision.  Applications are open until 12 noon on Friday, May 31.

 

“County Donegal is home to one of the largest surviving concentrations of thatch structures in Ireland,” said Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer.  “Our thatched buildings are one of the most iconic and enduring images of County Donegal.  They lend character to our cultural landscapes; they are indicative of our sense of place, our traditional skills and our resourcefulness; they can be sensitively adapted to meet modern family demands; they invoke our diaspora and support our tourism industry.  Despite their importance and potential, the loss of our thatched buildings, especially in recent years, has been considerable.  Donegal County Council recognises the contribution that thatched dwellings and outbuildings make to our cultural landscape, employment, economy and tourism.  This pilot grant scheme is a recognition of their importance.”  The Thatch Repair Grants Scheme is funded by Donegal County Council and the Creative Ireland programme as part of the implementation of the County Donegal Heritage Plan.

 

“Donegal County Council considers that the conservation of our traditional buildings constitutes appropriate, sustainable and responsible development,” said Collette Beattie, Conservation Officer, Donegal County Council.  “At present, there are over 20 thatched buildings on the Record of Protected Structures for County Donegal and many more are eligible for inclusion.  The Thatch Repair Grant Scheme addresses several Donegal County Council plans and strategies including the County Donegal Heritage Plan to “Encourage the conservation of thatch and thatching skills and materials in County Donegal as a distinctive aspect of the county’s heritage” and the Culture & Creativity Strategy for County Donegal to “Establish an incentive scheme for the conservation of vernacular buildings” as well as several policies in the Donegal County Development Plan to protect and conserve our traditional buildings.  Types of small-scale thatch repairs that might be eligible to Donegal County Council’s Thatch Repair Grants Scheme include repairs to the eaves, the ridge, flashings around the chimney, holes, furrows, fixings, ropes, wire netting, the gable and the roof timbers or carpentry.   

 

Thatch 2

This chimney detail near Milford demonstrates the care that was taken to direct water away from vulnerable points of entry into the vernacular cottage.  The thatch is firmly secured to the gable and chimney with ropes.  Part of the chimney to the projecting stone course is thatched to throw the water off the roof and the boundary between the thatch and the gable is rounded making it more aerodynamic and encouraging water to drop onto the adjoining corrugated iron roof below.

 

Traditionally rope thatching was the dominant thatching method in County Donegal although scollop thatching could be found in parts of east Donegal.  Historic thatch materials varied considerably depending on the local vegetation cover and farming practices.  Thatching materials used included wheat straw, oat straw, rye straw, flax, marram grass, water reed and even rushes. 

 

While the Donegal County Council’s Thatch Repair Grants Scheme focuses on small-scale repairs, there are other grant schemes that allow for the thatching and re-thatching of roofs.  These include the Grant for the Renewal or Repair of Thatch Roofs of Houses administered by the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government; the Thatch Conservation Grant Scheme administered by The Heritage Council; the Built Heritage Investment Scheme for Protected Structures by the Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht and even the Irish Georgian Society’s Conservation Grants.  Assistance for the repair of thatched outbuildings is also available under the GLAS Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme administered by The Heritage Council. 

 

 

Advice on all of these grants schemes is available from the County Donegal Heritage Office and the Conservation Office of Donegal County Council and online.

 

Applications forms for the Thatch Repair Grants Scheme are available online  or by contacting Joseph Gallagher, Heritage Officer or Collette Beattie, Conservation Officer at (074) 915 3900 or by e-mail at thatch@donegalcoco.ie

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