The real problem behind Ireland's disappearing thatch cottages
By: Robert Hayes-McCoy - owner of a thatch cottage
The stone walled cottages tend to be found in the northern parts of Ireland and along the Wild Atlantic Way, while the mud-walled ones are mainly located in the southern parts of the country where stones are less plentiful.
Interestingly, provided the roofs are well maintained, both types of thatched cottages can, and do, last for centuries. However, if the roofs are neglected, even for a short period of time, water seeps through and the more vulnerable mud-walled constructions can very quickly get washed away. That's why we have so few mud-walled thatch cottages left in Ireland nowadays.
My wife and I are lucky to own a pre-famine mud-walled thatched cottage in Wexford, purchased by us more than 40 years ago..
Over those years we have observed many centuries old mud-walled thatched cottages being abandoned, disintegrating and then disappearing.
The whole cycle from 'dwelling house to dust' can take as little as ten years. And from what I can see, the chronological order of the reasons behind many of these 'disappearances' is:
Right now, Ireland has a serious accommodation shortage and we are looking for a fast, sustainable solution to it.
By my estimates it cost on average €2000 pa to keep the roof of a thatched dwelling in very good order. Surely, this is a combined housing, heritage, tourism and refugee accommodation solution that is well worth investing in.