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Thatch Repair Grant Scheme 02.06.22

APPLICATIONS have opened again for Donegal County Council’s Thatch Repair Grant Scheme that assists the owners and occupiers of thatched dwellings with their maintenance and repair. The grant scheme provides advice to owners on the conservation of thatched roofs, allocates funding for small-scale thatch repairs and helps homeowners carry out necessary repairs under conservation supervision.

This year the scheme has two strands:
• Stream 1 will provide advice and funding for small-scale thatch repairs up to €3,000
• Stream 2 will provide support for one or two large-scale re-thatching projects up to €15,000 where the historic thatch building contributes to landscape character, history, culture or tourism.
Rope-thatched cottage in Ballykeeny, Inishowen was one of the properties that benefited under the Thatch Repair Grant Scheme. The scheme allows for small scale thatch repairs as evidenced by the ‘patch’ repairs shown here.
The Thatch Repair Grant Scheme is open for applications at www.donegalcoco.ie until 12 noon on Friday, June 17.

Joseph Gallagher, Heritage Officer, explains: “The success of Donegal County Council’s Thatch Repair Grant Scheme over the past three years has been considerable with 65 thatch repair projects supported... We cannot get complacent. We must recognise that our efforts at present are just slowing the rate of loss of historic thatch. It is sobering to think that, and difficult to understand why, within the next ten to twenty years few examples of these once ubiquitous thatched buildings will survive if the current rate of loss continues. After all, these buildings help to tell the story of most Donegal families and now lend character to our cultural landscape. Challenges such as the lack of available and affordable insurance for thatched buildings, the limited number of thatchers, especially rope thatchers and the lack of availability of thatching materials continue to pose threats to the future of these iconic buildings that house so many family memories and social history.”

“Through the implementation of the Thatch Repair Grant Scheme, we have learnt more about the state of historic thatch in the county and the challenges it faces. We know that we have a very small number of highly-skilled full-time or part-time thatchers but apprentices and apprenticeships are needed. We know that many people want to maintain their historic thatch but need targeted support. We know that the demand for good-quality thatching materials outstrips current supply but there are opportunities for farmers to diversity and produce these crops on a commercial basis. We know that insurance on thatched buildings could be more competitive and affordable but the insurance industry needs to demonstrate greater understanding of, and be better informed about the risks to, historic thatch. We know that there are local employment opportunities in conserving historic thatch but these have not been recognised.”

Applications forms for the Thatch Repair Grant Scheme are available online at www.donegalcoco.ie/heritage or by contacting Joseph Gallagher, Heritage Officer or Collette Beattie, Conservation Officer on 074 91 53900 or by email at thatch@donegalcoco.ie .
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