Pay it forward...

Remember meitheal?

I’ve been looking after Cottageology for two years and Orla Fitzmaurice did it before me for twelve years, all unpaid! I don’t mind donating time, but there are costs, not huge ones, involved in keeping it going. Cottageology is a sort of digital meitheal community, where we learn from, and help each other – it works both ways.

In my view, the Department of Housing should be running a “Guardians” scheme similar to the Maisons Paysannes de France, which provides advice and some help for the costs of keeping traditionally constructed buildings lived-in. But it takes time for public sector bodies to catch up with the new normal of instant, informal 24×7 support. They are doing a great job within their constraints.

In the meantime, might you consider a bit of meitheal, in terms of paying it forward, by making a donation towards the cost of getting something going that, perhaps in future, another more formal body could take on and fund?

I’m aiming to try to get 200-400 subscribing members to begin with.
So far 76 people have donated, which has allowed me to add a Knowledgebase that you can log in to and search through – this is open to donating members. I need more donations of €10-€50 to cover costs of online talks and more local information resources. If you can offer more, then great, it will all happen faster!

NB Yes, I am pursuing grants too, but anyone who has ever done this can tell you if you account for the time spent applying, most grants are “zero sum”.

  • All income and expenses is viewable at the Knowledgebase. You do need to provide your email for a login link. The free facebook group will continue – this is not “commercialisation”.
  • We won’t be trying to duplicate activities like good resources, or professional directories or existing training, or groups that focus on property sales or the Croi Cónaithe vacant property grants scheme.
  • The philosophy of the advice provided will remain that used by the SPAB, but recognising the very difficult situation in Ireland regarding costs, skills, resources and availability of all property can result in informal approaches. Use of professionals with the right skills is always advised!
  • We will be trying to leverage personal recommendations and work with bodies like the Department, those offering training, and Common Knowledge, and County Council conservation, heritage and arts officers to continue the learning.

Go on, go on, go on… just a few euros and let’s see what more we can do?

Thank you.

Imogen Bertin

*If you’re not Irish, this is a good explanation of the term meitheal from no less a person that former President Mary Robinson.

** We do have excellent volunteer help too (you know who you are!)

Photograph of Christian Helling of Gebel & Helling conservation giving a workshop "Taking on a Traditional Farmhouse" organised by the Irish Department of Housing

“Taking on a traditional farmhouse” workshop, organised by Sarah Jane Halpin, for the Department of Housing, and given by Christian Helling in October 2023