An Architects View on Irish Cottages

The following is a guest post from Mayo RIAI (Conservation Grade III) Architect – Mark Stephens. Mark also publishes the daily newsletter ‘The Architect Mark Daily‘  I am delighted to get an Architects advice and opinions on renovating Irish Cottages and I hope you enjoy the article.  Take it away Mark:   My starting point for any project is always, “If this was my house, and taking the clients brief into account, what would be the best possible thing I can do?” As an architect I’m aware at all stages of creating an elegant, sustainable solution that the planners are going to like but also that the premise of “the best solution for the property” is one that holds well.  If I don’t like what I’ve designed then how can I expect the clients to. The premise of this post therefore is – if I were given a traditional Irish cottage then what would I do with it? We’ll need firstly to have a look at the design of these now neglected Irish cottages and how they fit into 21st century living. The Traditional Irish Cottage The vast majority of what you see as ‘The Traditional Irish Cottage’ fall into a similar design; usually two bedrooms with a central living and cooking space. This central living space was the heart of the house which had an open fire for cooking and heating and frequently had a small ‘outshot’ which would house a small purpose built bed for Granny or Granddad to sleep in. The cottage would have been built with whatever materials were to hand; stones for the walls,...

Traditional Wexford Cottages

Reams could be written about the architecture of Wexford from the stunning period houses to the lighthouse and Norman walls of Wexford town but it is the ordinary common place vernacular Cottages that I have most interest in and Wexford provides a wealth of well preserved examples. The name Wexford takes its meaning from the Viking – Weissfiord or bay of the mudflats and it is in this tradition that much of Wexfords’ vernacular architecture was built.  Initial settlers lived in huts constructed of wattle and daub, interlaced saplings plastered with a mixture of mud, clay and straw and then thatched with straw.  As they became more prosperous they formed Ringforts to protect their most valuable assets – cattle.  The ringfort would contain the huts of the extended family who farmed together and lived in close quarters and various members would take watch for possible cattle raids.  This type of settlement was common around 1,500 to 1000 years ago and is somewhat similar to the later Clachán style settlements though without the defensive element. I am not entirely sure how dwellings changed from rounded wattle and daub huts to rectangular and linear cottage style dwellings.  Perhaps it was the influence of invaders and settlers bringing their architectural skills to Ireland and being copied on a smaller scale.  However, evolve they did – starting with one roomed effective rectangular huts and eventually spreading linearly to form multi roomed long houses. Features of Wexford Cottages Mud Wall Construction One of the most important features of vernacular architecture is that it evolves from the common, ordinary people, from local materials and skills. ...

Old Mill & Cottage renovation opportunity in Swords

I had to point out this little gem – no doubt that this will be a huge renovation project for whoever takes it over but it could be simply amazing. It is a prime example though of how pointless having a structure protected is in Ireland – all it seems to mean is that the structure is so wrapped up in red tape that it becomes difficult to renovate so it just gets left into a state of complete ruin – Grants are a pittance and in no way encourage renovation – levelling to the ground and rebuilding is a more attractive option. We have a lot to learn from our neighbours when it comes to protecting our heritage and buildings. **Mini rant over** Just imagine the potential in this property! If any of you do buy it – make sure to let me know – I’ll be aching to see future plans for such a unique project! 3 Bed Cottage & Mill – Asking €200,000 (From www.myhome.ie) For Sale by Private Treaty -Zoned Conservation Area -The Old Corn Mill Complex, Rolestown, Swords, Co Dublin This is a unique opportunity to acquire a piece of local history. Dating from the 1800’s this is a two storey thatched cottage, a two storey mill and a stone stable block all standing on a c.0.651 hectare site along the Broadmeadow River, in the center of Rolestown Village. Drive along the hedge lined roads on the Meath / Dublin border to the small country village of Rolestown. Here you are located in a wonderful, quiet rural setting, with easy access to the towns...

Irish Property Buyers Handbook 2011

The Essential Guide to Buying Property in a Changing Market If you are considering buying a cottage in Ireland I would highly recommend you check out the Irish Property Buyers Handbook 2011 by my good friend Carol Tallon. I have worked with Carol for over 6 years with Buyers Broker and I can honestly say that she is one of the most knowledgable and genuine people I have had the pleasure of working with. She has poured all of her years of experience into this book so if you are looking for an insiders guide on how the Irish property market works – this is it! You will not find a more comprehensive guide to the market with indepth chapters on areas such as Auctions, NAMA, taxation issues, issues for Foreign buyers, Negotiations, sourcing off-market property and legal issues to name a few. This book will save you time, stress and expense if you are considering buying property in Ireland. Not only that but it will give you the tools to level out the playing field and give you confidence to take that giant step twards your dream of owning your own Irish Cottage. You can buy the book online from the Liffey Press website or in all leading bookstores. Back Cover: This book deals with buying property at an uncertain time, navigating the current economic fallout and understanding the new opportunities in a dramatically changed marketplace. In this comprehensive guide, prospective property buyers will be introduced to new strategies to help source their ideal property at prices well below market value. Property negotiations are covered in three chapters,...