Winter Break from Building

  With winter galloping closer, time to put building work to bed under tarpaulin and focus on warmth giving pursuits; delicious seafood is plentiful and so is the rain. It’s a race against the season to complete the west gable with storms brewing overhead.

We discover that our lintels fall short of the full width of the wall. Originally they were compensated by timber. Very handily, our friendly  neighbourhood quarryman, Kerrigan, dropped off a new lintel ready dressed. We deduced that our original lintels, (and probably the majority of this byre’s stone), had been recycled from a nearby ruined cottage –  ‘Shane’s’ cottage (below) named so because of the resident on the Tithe Applotment Books (1823-38) & Griffith Valuation; Shane Hegarty.

http://www.nli.ie/en/griffiths-valuation.aspx

Shane’s was once a fine long cottage, given the quality and quantity of flagstone we uncovered under a carpet of rushes. With only a single wall surviving, the surrounding yard area is beautifully cobbled and includes a stone drain as well as very large sandstone flags, many of which remain intact  despite generations of remodeling for farm purposes.

Meanwhile having deconstructed some blatantly unstable walls of the thresher byre, it becomes clear that the east gable (left) will need to be taken down also, if it is to eventually support the chimney brace and roof properly.  This particular style of fireplace is unique to the Mountcharles area. Although the original lime mortar endures in part on surfaces here, the interior of the wall has been mortared with turf, hay, sheep dung & blue till, a sticky pale clay (below). Cheaper & readily available these mortars have eroded, leaving large voids in the middle of the wall, despite its robust appearance.  A further cause of instability are plant roots, nettles, ferns and briars that have worked themselves deeply into the walls. Having learned how difficult & time-consuming it is to squeeze mortar into the collapsed heart of the wall, it makes better sense to rebuild it.   Carefull records are made – then down it comes.

3 thoughts on “Winter Break from Building

  1. It is sad to see such an old, and apparently unique, hearth & gable demolished but, considering how you’ve rebuilt the other walls, one must assume that the new East gable which arises will be equally well formed & impressive.
    The ancient flags in the ruins of Shane’s cottage look as intact as if they were strewn with peat ash and scrubbed yesterday. It seems to have been a north/south alignment which is surely unusual for the region – I can’t think of any old house, though many byres, so positioned.
    Of course, the modern ‘ticky-tacky’ bungalows that sprang up throughout the county, like toxic toadstools during the Boom, bear no relationship to any cardinal points, or any other sane or relevant placement.

    1. East gable mark II shall be much stronger than previously – remember it must tie into a room on both sides as well as support the chimney slabs, which have been numbered in order to return them to rightful locations.

      On the blood-pressure-altering ‘ticky-tacky’ bungalow theme; they bear no relation to the landscape other than to command a view, which serves to wreck the very aspect they are built to capture.

  2. Great to read your posts and how beautifull the walls look. Do I understand it well, that you rebuild the standing wall in this last photo? I love it, it looks so perfect.
    Good night to you
    Carmen

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