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10/11/2020 - Award nomination for Thatch Repair Grant Scheme

Donegal County Council’s Thatch Repair Grant Scheme has been shortlisted for a Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Award in the ‘Heritage & Built Environment’ category.  The award recognises the best local authority initiatives to promote public interest in, and knowledge, appreciation and protection of local heritage.  The awards event will be hosted by Mary Kennedy (formerly of RTÉ Nationwide) and will take place on-line on Thursday, November 26. 


Rope thatching a cottage in Straboy, Glencolmcille / Gleann Cholm Cille with support from the Thatch Repair Grant Scheme.  West and north Donegal is one of the few areas where rope thatching is still practiced in Ireland.



“We’re delighted that the Thatch Repair Grant Scheme has been recognised by Chambers Ireland in this way” said Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer.  “The Thatch Repair Grant Scheme is the only one of its kind in Ireland.  The grant scheme provides advice to owners on the conservation of thatched roofs, allocates funding for small-scale thatch repairs and helps homeowners carry out necessary repairs under conservation supervision.  As well as conserving an overlooked aspect of our built heritage, the Thatch Repair Grant Scheme supports the employment of local thatchers, the growing of thatch materials and the retention of an important tourism asset and iconic image of County Donegal.  Furthermore, the scheme allows people to continue to live, work and stay in thatched buildings across the county.” 



Rope-thatched cottage in Ballykeeny along the Wild Atlantic Way in Inishowen was one of the properties that benefitted under the Thatch Repair Grant Scheme in 2019.  The scheme allows for small-scale thatch repairs as evidenced by the ‘patch’ repairs shown.



The Thatch Repair Grant Scheme is a cross‐directorate initiative between the County Donegal Heritage Office, Housing, Corporate & Cultural Services Directorate and the Conservation Office, Community Development & Planning Services Directorate of Donegal County Council.  “The public response to the scheme has been overwhelming again this year and the Thatch Repair Grant Scheme is supporting 26 thatch repair projects in County Donegal in 2020” explained Collette Beattie, Conservation Officer.  



The Thatch Repair Grant Scheme has created an increased demand for thatch materials thus supporting farmers and growers of thatch materials in the county.  The stooks of rye straw shown here in Drumbarnett near Manorcunningham in east Donegal are grown to support the thatch industry in the county.



Collette Beattie, Conservation Officer said “The owners of these thatched structures are justifiably proud of their built heritage. "These traditional buildings and their craftsmanship have stood the test of time and can be maintained and adapted to serve as comfortable family homes and business premises while retaining their heritage value.  As well as identifying and conserving historic thatch, the scheme is yielding important information on thatching materials, thatching methods, local thatchers and the challenges facing thatch homeowners.”



The Thatch Repair Grant Scheme allows for essential repairs to thatched roofs in order to allow people to continue to live under thatch such as this example of an extended farmstead from Drimgorman in south Donegal. 



The Thatch Repair Grant Scheme was supported by funding from Donegal County Council, Creative Ireland and The Heritage Council again this year as part of the implementation of the County Donegal Heritage Plan.  Dr. Fidelma Mullane provided specialist thatch advice on the scheme.  Applications to the Thatch Repair Grant Scheme will open again in the New Year.



This scollop-thatched, direct-entry cottage in Ballindrait supported under the Thatch Repair Grant Scheme displays clear evidence of the existence of the half-loft by the two small windows in the gable on either side of the hearth.  The raised ‘barges’ on the gable provide protection for the thatch from winds. 



Other projects nominated in the Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Award in the ‘Heritage & Built Environment’ category are: Clare County Council for its restoration and refurbishment of the Turret Lodge, Cork County Council for its West Cork Graveyards Project, Fingal County Council for the Casino Model Railway Museum, and Wicklow County Council for its ‘Our Wicklow Heritage – A Living Archive of Wicklow Communities’ project.  Further details are available here



Businesses are accommodated under thatch too and Dorrian’s thatched pub on Bishop Street in Ballyshannon is popular with residents and tourists alike.  It was supported under the Thatch Repair Grant Scheme in 2020 for repairs to its scollop thatch.



For further information, please contact:


Joseph Gallagher, Heritage Officer, County Donegal Heritage Office, Donegal County Council, Station Island, Lifford, County Donegal.

Telephone:  (074) 917 2576

E-mail:  [email protected]


Collette Beattie, Conservation Officer, Donegal County Council, County House, Lifford, County Donegal.

Telephone:  (074) 917 2464

E-mail:  [email protected]


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