Farm buildings, located at Srahan, Camross, Co. Laois, that had been slowly to rapidly deteriorating over the last 30 years, have been rescued from dereliction under the GLAS traditional farm buildings grant scheme. 

“Both buildings are stone. One was originally a stable and loft and the other was used for a number of things over the years including storing horse tackle and cart and as a cattle and sheep shed in later years,” said part-time sheep farmer, Ray Cuddy.

“They had reached the stage where they were no longer of any practical use and were heading towards complete dereliction.

“The buildings are located across from the ruins of Srahan castle which was a tower house built in the 1600s. It is highly visible on the ascent to both Arderin and the local Fraochán Sunday site,” he said.

“Part of the roof on the slated building had collapsed in on itself and destroyed the loft below. As a result, only a small amount of timbers could be re-used. We were, however, able to salvage a good portion of slates for re-use.

“The wall of the other building needed to come down for structural and safety reasons. It was, however, re-erected using the exact same stone and a natural hydraulic lime mortar.

“We left the corrugated sheets on the roof of this building and repaired the timbers underneath. This is in line with the ethos of the Heritage Council; renew and repair rather than replace,” he said.

Camross buildings

As part of the scheme, a bat and bird survey was required.

“This was carried out by Gerry Tobin and as a result, the presence of wrens were detected in one building and bats in the second building,” Ray continued.

“This habitat for bats has now hopefully been improved by the works, and certainly bats and other birds/wildlife are welcome to the repaired structures.

“The louvred window opening will allow for this while ensuring ventilation as well.”

The project was supervised by Fintan Dunne as conservation consultant and local stonemasons and carpenters were employed to complete the restoration.

Time was the biggest obstacle, according to Ray.

“Work could not commence on the building that housed bats until after November 1, and given the time of the year, the weather and the deterioration of the buildings, it was a struggle to get it completed within the short timeframe,” he recalled.

Camross buildings

“With the buildings now restored, I will be in a position to use them for the coming lambing season,” said Ray.

“My ewes naturally tend to lamb in the sheltered area of the trees around the old farmyard. Now I can bring them into these houses as they lamb to get them over the first few crucial days.

“The loft will also be very suitable for storing feeds,” he said.

None of this repair work, Ray acknowledged, would be possible without the support and funding from the Heritage Council and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

He said he was delighted that the buildings were saved from dereliction.

“On a personal note, these buildings are of great sentimental value to me as I farmed here as a child with my father and I am very grateful to the Heritage Council for giving me the opportunity to restore them,” he concluded.