While too many of our lovely vernacular houses fast disappear into ruin, there are a few happy exceptions. This is the story of a typical traditional farmhouse in Donegal – last modified in the 1990s with concrete chimneys and cement render.
The restoration was undertaken by Sean Brogan and his team at Tir Chonaill Conservation
It soon became clear the building had been weakened by the weight of oversized chimneys and other terrible ‘repair’ choices, such as block surrounds on windows which were not tied in.
Originally built in the early 1900s from what was available: volcanic rock taken from the nearby shore. Hard and slippery, this isn’t ideal stuff. A hot lime mortar mix was made with earthy gravel. The gable shows itself to have cracked masonry.
Brick chimneys of appropriate size and weight were built. Then a new roof of reclaimed slate, with lime barges and attic windows.
To prevent walls from bowing, the structure needed to be tied from front to back with steel-tie bars, which is an traditional method of strengthening buildings. Helical bar stitches were applied to the gable..
No Atlantic gales will disturb the warmth of this houseUpstairs you can see wall-plate tie-down straps, their swallow tails tucked into joints. These were individually crafted by blacksmith Michael Connolly in Kinlough, along with other works brackets.
Note the cast iron anchor plates where the building is tied through with steel bars.
A credit to Tir Chonaill Conservation – and equally to the owners, who made a choice to properly protect this farmhouse for future generations.
We wish them many years of happiness beneath it’s roof.