Bungalows and thatched cottages


Sir, – In the article “A history of Ireland in 13 houses” (Property, March 14th), the author writes: “Not everyone appreciated the quaint Irish cottage of old, particularly not architect and Fianna Fáil member Jack Fitzsimons, who published the blueprints for a new kind of home in the form of a 1971 book called Bungalow Bliss.”

While Jack Fitzsimons was critical of deplorable housing conditions in rural Ireland, of which he had first-hand experience, he had great appreciation for the Irish thatched cottage. He recognised the thatched cottage as a valuable part of our heritage.

Indeed, he published a book on the topic in 1990 titled Thatched Houses in County Meath, in which he documented the disappearing thatched houses in his home county. In the preface to that book he wrote that “thatched houses constitute something very special which should be jealously guarded”. He made the case for State assistance, by way of special grants, to help preserve this part of our heritage. He also recognised that some old cottages, particularly those in poor repair, were not suitable or practical for modern requirements. He noted at that time that “the majority of people who admire these buildings and encourage their retention would very likely be unwilling to live in them”. – Yours, etc,