With winter galloping closer, time to put building work to bed under tarpaulin and focus on warmth giving pursuits; delicious seafood is plentiful and so is the rain. It’s a race against the season to complete the west gable with storms brewing overhead.
We discover that our lintels fall short of the full width of the wall. Originally they were compensated by timber. Very handily, our friendly neighbourhood quarryman, Kerrigan, dropped off a new lintel ready dressed. We deduced that our original lintels, (and probably the majority of this byre’s stone), had been recycled from a nearby ruined cottage – ‘Shane’s’ cottage (below) named so because of the resident on the Tithe Applotment Books (1823-38) & Griffith Valuation; Shane Hegarty.
Shane’s was once a fine long cottage, given the quality and quantity of flagstone we uncovered under a carpet of rushes. With only a single wall surviving, the surrounding yard area is beautifully cobbled and includes a stone drain as well as very large sandstone flags, many of which remain intact despite generations of remodeling for farm purposes.
Meanwhile having deconstructed some blatantly unstable walls of the thresher byre, it becomes clear that the east gable (left) will need to be taken down also, if it is to eventually support the chimney brace and roof properly. This particular style of fireplace is unique to the Mountcharles area. Although the original lime mortar endures in part on surfaces here, the interior of the wall has been mortared with turf, hay, sheep dung & blue till, a sticky pale clay (below). Cheaper & readily available these mortars have eroded, leaving large voids in the middle of the wall, despite its robust appearance. A further cause of instability are plant roots, nettles, ferns and briars that have worked themselves deeply into the walls. Having learned how difficult & time-consuming it is to squeeze mortar into the collapsed heart of the wall, it makes better sense to rebuild it. Carefull records are made – then down it comes.