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GLAS Funding allows Restoration of Clare Farm Outbuildings

Co. Clare suckler farmer Denis Clair, a GLAS participant was eligible to apply to the Heritage Council for the DAFM-funded Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme, to restore & repair a number of historic outbuildings on his farm as Michael Dillon, Teagasc Advisor Kilrush and Helen Devitt outline

Denis, who farms at Ardnaculla South, outside Ennistymon, applied for the scheme in April 2021, with restoration works starting on site in late August of this year and completed in mid-October. Therefore, it is advisable that any interested applicants allow sufficient time to fully complete the required approvals and works within the short timeframe of the grant scheme.

The Traditional Farm Buildings Scheme (TFBS)

The Traditional Farm Buildings Scheme (TFBS) has a principal objective to ensure that traditional farm buildings and other related structures that contribute to the character of the landscape and are of significant heritage value, are conserved for active agricultural use.

Once grant approval was secured, a required bat and bird survey was completed by Minogue & Associates Environmental Consultancy Ltd to comply with the Wildlife Acts, 1979 to 2018.  No bats were present in these buildings but works to the rear calving house were excluded until the end of the bird nesting season due to nesting swallows. Local Conservation Architect, Helen Devitt MRIAI, was engaged to plan and oversee the works, which were completed on site by local builders, Clair Wood Products.

Role of Heritage Conservation Specialists

Denis employed the services of Helen Devitt Architects , a local practice, specialising in Conservation works based in nearby Moy, Co. Clare to supervise the project from start to finish. This role entailed planning, supervising & reporting throughout the course of the project.

The 1800's original farmhouse house

Two of the farm outbuildings being repaired under this grant scheme, currently in use as a hen house and dog kennel, formed part of the original O’Brien farmhouse, which date from the late 1800’s and which are evident in the 25” historical ordnance maps. The O’Brien farmstead is the original birth place of the applicant’s mother Mrs. Rita Clair (nee O’Brien) and her family ancestors. This historic farmhouse now stands mostly in ruins, with the exception of the two western bedrooms, which were converted into agricultural use in the 1950’s.  The front and back walls were raised with salvaged stone from the original farm dwelling and a lean-to corrugated iron roof and timber roof structure was introduced and secured with traditional cast in-situ concrete barges.  The stonework to the eaves line of the original dwelling house and an original window openings is still evident, defined by a stone sill and lintel which has been protected over the years. Mrs. Rita Clair recalls the layout of the O’Brien family farmhouse having ‘two small bedrooms to the west, a central kitchen with a north and south door, a parlour, which was the ‘good room’, off which there were two more small bedrooms to the east’.

An 1800's original cow house

The third outbuilding, immediately adjacent to these structures, is an original cow house which formed part of the historic outbuildings associated with the O’Brien farmstead during the 1800’s and is still in use today as a calving house. The main body of work required to these buildings was repairs to the roof due to the extensive corrosion which was evident in the existing corrugated iron sheeting and a new galvanised corrugated iron roof was introduced along with new cast in-situ concrete cappings. The existing roof timbers were retained and some essential minimal repairs were undertaken which were limited to the splicing of two decayed purlin ends with like-for-like material. The repairs to the existing timber doors and windows which were also approached to ensure the minimal amount of repair works and removal of original fabric. A wrought iron strap and wheel mechanism to the rolling door of the calving house was retained and refurbished in-situ. Traditional lime white wash was used externally on exposed stonework and internally to consolidate the plaster which included remnants of the historic lime plaster. The Moher flagstone threshold detail to the outbuildings was repaired and made good and these flag stones were salvaged from the original O’Brien farm house kitchen floor.

The works completed by Denis Clair under the GLAS and TFBS scheme has ensured the retention and consolidation of remaining enclosing walls of this mid-19th century vernacular dwelling and adjacent cow house. The consolidation of these historic structures has preserved part of our cultural and architectural heritage for future generations to appreciate.

Teagasc Advisors are regular contributors of articles here on Teagasc Daily. Find your local Teagasc office here 

If you liked this article you might also like to read GLAS Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme Farmer Focus - Siobhan Madden  More on the GLAS Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme can be found here