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Teagasc Promote the Built Heritage on Irish Farms

As part of National Heritage Week, Teagasc in conjunction with The Heritage Council held a number of Countryside Management Events on the topic of Traditional Farm Buildings and their maintenance. This year, National Heritage Week focused on Built Heritage. The agricultural landscape is rich in built heritage from archaeological sites to traditional farm buildings.

At an event in Galway, Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist stressed the importance of traditional farm buildings as landscape features, habitats for bats and birds such as owls, swallows and swifts and an important part of the history of the farm, linking farmers to past generations.

Tom Walsh, Teagasc adviser who organised the Galway event said there was great interest from local farmers who take pride in the traditional farm buildings on their own farms and are keen to learn more about their maintenance. This was evident from the large turn-out on the farm of David and Violet Satchwell, Mountmary, Creggs, Co Galway.

A grant scheme available to farmers in REPS 4 encourages the conservation and repair of the exterior of these buildings. The grant scheme is administered by The Heritage Council and funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Approximately 40-50 grants of between €5,000 and up to €20,000 at a rate of 75% are available each year to carry out conservation and repair works. Application forms are expected soon for this year. This scheme benefits craftspeople with traditional skills such as blacksmiths and others involved in lime renders, wood conservation and slates.

Ireland’s landscape is enriched by its heritage of farmhouses and outbuildings. In the past people made clever use of materials available locally and traditions followed were based on experience of the local climate. Thus these buildings appear very much in harmony with their local setting. Regional differences in walling or roofing material used in buildings are echoed in features of the farmed land.

The materials and craftsmanship displayed in the buildings, gates and walls are a testament to the ingenuity of our forebears in making the most of the resources available to them. A people without a past, is like a man without a memory. In order to plan the future it is vital to understand the past.