With winter approaching, and rising energy prices, now is certainly the right time to get a new layer of thatch on the roof.
Thanks to Jerry Carr for wonderfully capturing this age-old Donegal tradition during the week at Kelly’s Cottage in Kerrykeel.
The man hard at work on the roof is none other than master thatcher, Brian Lafferty, from Redcastle, Inishowen.
His little helper just happens to be James Farrell, who lives in the cosy cottage underneath.
We believe Brian is working with flax, the preferred type of thatch in the north and east of the county.
When the flax industry was thriving in those parts, leftovers were used to thatch the houses and that became part of our tradition.
While, in west Donegal, rye and mountain grass were the main crops used to supply thatch.
Indeed, Inishowen is said to have the highest concentration of surviving thatched cottages in Ireland.
Each part of the county has its own style of thatching, depending on the weather.
In Inishowen, and other coastal areas, the thatch is more shallow and is applied more frequently using a ‘laying on’ style and covered by wire mesh.
While in eastern and central Donegal, the thatch is applied to the roof in greater depth and scollops (made from sally rods) are used as pegs to hold it in place.
Also in coastal areas, the roofs are more barrel shaped to deflect the high winds and, inland, you’ll notice more apex thatched roofs.
The type of thatching depends on the local climate and can last from between 12 and 18 years before it needs replacing.
Anyone interested in having their house thatched can avail of Thatch Repair Grant Scheme which is administered by Donegal County Council.
The scheme provides advice to owners on the conservation of thatched roofs, allocates funding for small-scale thatch repairs and helps homeowners carry out necessary repairs under conservation supervision.
Advice on all of these grant schemes is available from the County Donegal Heritage Office and the Conservation Office of the council and on-line at www.donegalcoco.ie/heritage
Applications forms for the scheme are available on-line from the council website or by contacting Joseph Gallagher, Heritage Officer or Collette Beattie, Conservation Officer at (074) 915 3900 or by e-mail at email@example.comTags: