€1m scheme to restore farm buildings


TRADITIONAL FARM buildings are to be rescued from demolition by a new EU-funded grant scheme. The Heritage Council, which has expressed concern many buildings are “being lost through neglect”, is to administer the scheme and provide cash to owners of the endangered buildings to enable conservation.

Anna Meenan, the project manager, said “distinctively Irish” old farm buildings are “what make our countryside so interesting and distinguish it from the rest of Europe”.

She said that since Ireland had joined the EU, farmers had adopted a “tidy farmyard policy”, which resulted in many outbuildings being demolished and replaced by modern buildings.

The council wants to conserve this aspect of the “vernacular” architectural heritage because the buildings provide an invaluable insight into “how our ancestors farmed and lived, thought and built”. Ms Meenan said many of the beautiful, mainly stone, buildings were “made of local materials selected by farmers themselves and can never be replicated”.

Eligible projects could include the restoration of pigsties and henhouses from the 1950s. The council has a budget for the scheme for 2010 of €1 million and hopes to fund “about 50” projects.

Grants are available for buildings constructed “before 1960”.

“Farmhouses, residential or domestic buildings” are not eligible, nor are “corrugated hay barns – even those from the 1920s and 1930s”.

Grant awards will vary between €5,000 and €25,000. Applications must be received by the Heritage Council by 5pm on March 26th. For more information, see www.heritagecouncil.ie.