Raising the roof on thatched cottage
Sir, – Back in the 1980s, my wife and I purchased a mud-walled thatched cottage with a view to holiday-homing in it, restoring it, and preserving a truly beautiful part of our heritage for future generations to appreciate. Ours was an urgent purchase because the cottage urgently needed a new thatch. Rainwater was seeping through the roof around the chimney and it was clear that unless we bought it quickly and put a new roof on it immediately, those wonderful centuries old mud walls would wash away and this small, but valuable, part of our heritage would disappear forever.
We saved the cottage, and over the years we have fully rethatched it at some considerable expense no less than three times. We are proud of our single-handed heritage protection achievement. You can imagine our feelings when recently an envelope containing a preservation order popped through the letterbox of the cottage.
We were officially informed that our cottage was an important piece of our protected heritage that we could not change a single part of its structure without first obtaining permission from the appropriate authorities.
While it’s nice to know that the authorities are at last appreciating Ireland’s wonderful thatched heritage, I suppose it would be too much to expect the State to pop an envelope through the letterboxes of all owners of our centuries old thatch cottages to say: “You’re no longer on your own . . . we’re now prepared to realistically help you preserve our centuries old world famous thatched cottage heritage.” – Yours, etc,