A Co. Clare woman recently completed a second project under the GLAS traditional farm buildings scheme, having battled bad weather to get it over the line.
Veronica McKenna farms 112ac at Mountshannon and has a suckler enterprise of spring-calving Limousin-cross cows.
Her second heritage project was to repair an old stone building with an adjacent, small, walled yard.
“The building, which is over 200 years old, was in very bad condition as some of the rear wall had slipped out of shape,” she said.
“When initially viewed by the conservation architect, the question was raised if it needed to be taken down stone-by-stone and rebuilt.”
The decision was made to construct a support structure to the rear of the building and brace the building from front to back with chain ratchets at three locations.
“This created a safer working environment and allowed for the erection of scaffolding and to commence the detailed assessment of the wall,” the Mountshannon woman said.
From this, a plan was developed to structurally secure the wall and adhere to all restoration recommendations.
“The slates were removed and this exposed all the timbers and because of the level of wet rot in the wall plates, rafters and slatting lats, everything had to be replaced,” Veronica added.
“The slates that were in good condition were saved and stored for re-use. The rest of the slates required were sourced locally to match the existing original ones.
“The more the building was inspected, and particularly the stone work, it was evident that the mortar consisted of a clay-like mixture and had an almost brown clay-type texture.”
Because the back wall of the building had slipped over time, the upper layers of stone on the wall were numbered and carefully removed until a more stable section of the wall was reached, Veronica explained.
“The stonemason then carefully filled the cavities with lime mortar and over a period of many days rebuilt as per original,” she said.
“The wall had separated from the sides at the corner/gable ends.”
With help from a stonemason, they manoeuvred the large, displaced corner stones one by one, slowly back into a more secure position with a substantial amount of lime mortar, allowing to set for a few days to strengthen the structure.
“This tied the walls back together as it was originally to give it the strength to withstand the elements for years to come,” Veronica said.
“An adjacent small structure was very dilapidated and overgrown with vegetation. All the large overgrowth was removed and cleaned away from surface of the walled yard where the roots had anchored and grown.
“This exposed, to our surprise, an old cobble type stone surface which would have been common for the period age of the building,” Veronica said.
When the walls were restored and stabilised, the roofing started and was challenging in many ways, Veronica said. The building was still out of shape she explained, making for extra work on the roofing.
“Old slates were used on the roof and the chimney stones repaired with lime mortar,” she said.
“The chimney was sealed to the slates with lime mortar and also the wall plates were bedded into position. Prior to installation, the timbers were treated with bitumen as recommended for environmental impact.
“They are not harmful to the eco system, in particular to bats or birds which would be the common inhabitants of old building in this area.”
Cast iron gutters sourced in a salvage yard were fitted along with newly restored iron gates.
“These were the final features to restore this building to its former glory,” Veronica added.
“All this work wouldn’t have been possible without the support and funding from the Heritage CounciI, which in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, manages the grant scheme,” said Veronica, as she expressed thanks to all the professionals involved in the project.