Thatched buildings, once typical in Ireland are now a rare sight. “Up until the 17th Century, thatch was the main type of roofing in Ireland but over the years other roofing materials became available and fashionable and now there are only a few thatched buildings in the country”, says Heritage Officer Melanie McQuade.
A survey of the thatched buildings in Westmeath is commencing in June. “The aim of this project is to create an up-to-date record of all the thatched buildings in the county. The last survey of thatched buildings in Westmeath was carried out for the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) in 2004. It included 28 thatched buildings in Westmeath, but there are several others that, for various reasons, were not recorded by the NIAH. We want to ensure that they are included in this survey”.
“We are delighted to be working with Conservation Consultant, Bronagh Lanigan of AR&R (http://arr.ie) on this project, which is as an action of the Westmeath Heritage Plan, funded by The Heritage Council with support from Westmeath County Council. Bronagh has worked on many building surveys, including surveys of thatched houses in Tipperary and Laois, and she will be travelling to each of the thatched houses in Westmeath”.
“As well as recording the building details and history, we are looking forward to talking to the owners and getting their views on the conservation needs of these thatched buildings and on the future use of thatch”, says Melanie. She goes on to explain that the survey results will help to inform conservation priorities, including grant assisted works, for original thatched properties in Westmeath.
“I am thrilled to be involved with this project and am looking forward to getting out and about in County Westmeath to visit thatched buildings and meeting owners. I’m looking forward to learning more about the history of these thatched houses, the families who lived in them, who built the houses and who the local thatchers were.” says Bronagh.
Bronagh is looking for the public’s help in finding the remaining thatched houses in the county and any information on the history of thatch in Westmeath. “If people have old photographs of thatched buildings, have thatching tools in a shed that haven’t been used or looked at in a while or any information about thatching in the county I’d love to hear from them.”
If you are the owner of a thatched building or if you know of a thatched building in your locality, that may not have been included on the NIAH (https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/) then the Heritage Office would like to hear from you; contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Melanie McQuade on 087 607 4496.
Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 31/05/2021