Donegal County Council’s award-winning Thatch Repair Grant Scheme has opened for applications.
Now in its sixth year, the scheme assists the owners and occupiers of thatched dwellings and businesses with their maintenance and repair.
The scheme allows for small-scale thatch repairs from €500 up to €3,000. The Thatch Repair Grant Scheme is open for applications (www.donegalcoco.ie/heritage) until 12 noon on Friday, March 8 and is funded by Donegal County Council and The Heritage Council.
“Over the past five years, Donegal County Council’s Thatch Repair Grant Scheme has supported over a hundred thatch repair projects throughout the county” said Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer. “Based on the recent National Thatch Audit commissioned by the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage, it is estimated that there are over 300 known thatched buildings in County Donegal. An updated audit of the condition of known thatch buildings on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage in the Inishowen Municipal District highlighted the continued rate of loss.
“Preliminary results show that 27% of the historic thatch properties in the Inishowen Municipal District have been lost in the past 15 years and a further 10% of them are in a poor or very poor conditions. A particular cause of concern is the replacement of historic thatch by some homeowners with slate when only repairs are required to save and conserve the historic thatch. Homeowners are reminded that permission is required from Donegal County Council to replace an historic thatched roof as it constitutes a material alteration to the structure.”
Mr Gallagher said an increasing number of supports are being put in place to support thatch homeowners.
He added “The perceived obstacles to the conservation of historic thatch that once existed are being addressed by the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage. A new annual grant scheme under the Built Heritage Investment Scheme was introduced for the first time last year and this has the potential to allow for six full rethatch projects in County Donegal every year.
“The Department is also in discussions with insurance companies to improve the availability of, and reduce the cost of, thatch insurance. It has also issued a free booklet on ‘Fire Safety in Thatched Properties’ that provides advice to homeowners on reducing the fire risk in their properties and has just started to offer a free one-to-one on-site visit with an engineer on how to apply the published guidance to your property. Employment, training and apprenticeship opportunities in the thatching industry are also being explored in order to encourage more people to become thatchers.”
“The Narin Portnoo Rosbeg Community Co-operative Society Ltd. is in the process of completing the construction of a thatching school at the Dolmen Centre in Portnoo” said Collette Beattie, Conservation Officer with Donegal County Council. “There are on-going discussions with training agencies and educational establishments to provide accreditation for a thatch course at the thatching school. Thatching is a skilled trade and it takes approximately four years to train in this area so there is a real urgency in Donegal for the syllabus to be drawn up and for an accredited course developed in the immediate future.”
“Donegal County Council considers that the conservation of our traditional buildings constitutes appropriate, sustainable and responsible development. At present, there are over 20 thatched buildings on the Record of Protected Structures for County Donegal and many more are eligible for inclusion. The Thatch Repair Grant Scheme addresses several Donegal County Council plans and strategies including the new County Donegal Heritage Plan to “continue to conserve and promote our vernacular built heritage and associated traditional building skills” as well as several policies in the Donegal County Development Plan to protect and conserve our traditional buildings.
“Types of small-scale thatch repairs that might be eligible to Donegal County Council’s Thatch Repair Grant Scheme include repairs to the eaves, the ridge, flashings around the chimney, holes, furrows, fixings, ropes, wire netting, the gable and the roof timbers or carpentry. All types of historic thatched properties are eligible under our Thatch Repair Grant Scheme whether they are in residential use, in use as commercial premises or holiday homes and even if they are vacant.”
Copies of the ‘Fire Safety in Thatched Properties’ booklet is available free-of-charge from the County Donegal Heritage Office.
Applications forms for the Thatch Repair Grant Scheme are available on-line from the Donegal County Council website (www.donegalcoco.ie/heritage) or by contacting Joseph Gallagher, Heritage Officer or Collette Beattie, Conservation Officer at (074) 915 3900 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Thatch Repair Grant Scheme is funded by Donegal County Council and The Heritage Council as part of the implementation of the County Donegal Heritage Plan.