DONEGAL County Council’s Thatch Repair Grant Scheme won the Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Award in the ‘Heritage & Built Environment’ category at the on-line awards ceremony on Thursday.
The award recognises the best local authority initiative to promote public interest in, and knowledge, appreciation and protection of local heritage.
Donegal County Council will receive a specially-commissioned crystal award designed by Waterford Crystal that will be presented to the council when COVID-19 restrictions allow.
The Thatch Repair Grant Scheme was supported by funding from Donegal County Council, The Heritage Council and Creative Ireland as part of the implementation of the County Donegal Heritage Plan.
“Our thatched buildings are very important to our culture, economy and tourism so it’s great that Chambers Ireland has recognised the Thatch Repair Grant Scheme with this award,” said Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer.
“The award also recognises the contribution that the owners, occupiers and craftsmen of these structures make as guardians of this aspect of our vernacular built heritage. The Thatch Repair Grant Scheme provides advice to owners on the conservation of thatched roofs and allocates funding for small-scale thatch 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.”
The Thatch Repair Grant Scheme supported 26 thatch repair projects across County Donegal in 2020 and Dr. Fidelma Mullane provided specialist advice on the conservation of thatch.
“The best way to conserve a thatched structure is to keep it in use,” said Collette Beattie, Conservation Officer, Donegal County Council.
“The Thatch Repair Grant Scheme is a co-designed, cross‐directorate initiative between the County Donegal Heritage Office and the Conservation Office of Donegal County Council. This award reflects the growing public interest in the conservation of thatch and the need to support people to maintain and adapt these buildings to serve as comfortable family homes and business premises while retaining their heritage value.
“The scheme has also underlined the connection that people in County Donegal have with these thatched buildings and homeowners and thatchers have provided us with important information on thatching materials, thatching methods and thatch insurance.”
The Chambers Ireland event hosted by Mary Kennedy (formerly of RTÉ Nationwide) can be viewed:
“Local Authorities have achieved the highest standards of performance, despite this year of great uncertainty. These standards are evident in all of the applications that were both entered and featured as the category prize winners in these awards” said Darragh O’Brien T.D., Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
“Having local government structures working to such a high level has helped to maintain an important sense of community in these difficult times.
“I express my gratitude to the local authorities themselves for the vital contribution they make in communities across the country.”
Applications to Donegal County Council’s award-winning Thatch Repair Grant Scheme will open again in the New Year.