Big House

Very close to our cottage sits the hulk which is known as ‘Big House’

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Built in 1927 it was a ‘namely’ house in its day.

Indeed there where few people then who could afford such a fine two-story dwelling, with fireplaces both up & down. This one was built with ‘American money’.

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It has not withstood its ‘improvements’ well – being entirely rendered with cement in the 50s – this gable is slowly bursting open.

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I do keep a close eye on the angle of the chimney. One night it shall suddenly fall. It may happen soon with these vicious storms of late.

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Yet it has taken more than cement to wreck this house. We suspect it was badly built to begin with.

The whole structure is severely compromised with walls which bulge out at a ridiculous trajectory.  Perhaps a lack of adequate foundation has led to this splaying?

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Inside you can see where walls have parted company with the front of the house  – tie stones futile.

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In the scullery matters are no better..

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while boulders tumble down into the hearth.

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‘Tis a pity

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when a stone house becomes too ragged to re stitch

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Yet a lock of fine building stone is contained here. Certainly enough for a donkey shed, or prehaps for a shelter wall to enclose an apple orchard.

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4 thoughts on “Big House

  1. Great post. I have always been fascinated by old buildings and what may make them fail. Stewart Brand wrote a book about 20 years ago called How Buildings Learn with a six part BBC series, on this very subject. I had the links on my blog but I now see they do not work as Brand apparently has put them all in icloud and I haven’t figured out how to access that yet. I will have to work on that.
    Anyway I love your blog (particularly as a former dry stack stone wall builder) and learning about traditional building in Ireland. Thanks and keep up the good work.

    1. Hello Ges – thanks for stopping by and for reminding me about the Stewart Brand series on BBC – which I’ve seen parts of. Really good. Neither am I a whizz on icloud – technology seems to be at an ever galloping pace. Which is yet another reason why to put one simple stone next to the other is so, well, enjoyable. I’ve just been across at your blog and really enjoyed your post on Paricutin Volcano. An amazing place altogether.

  2. What a sad old building. I wonder why it was ever rendered. I suppose it was the fashion at the time. What a shame it seems to far gone to be retrieved. I am in Australia and love your blog.

  3. Hello Lindy. When Portland Cement was first imported to Ireland in the 20s – it must have seemed like a superb, robust, quickly drying, convenient and superior new material. Really it was simple ignorance that people did not understand that it was unsuitable for stonework (and these attitudes prevail to this day!) When cement began to be produced in Ireland in 1938 there was no stopping ‘progress’. Australia made its own cement from 1929 although I’d imagine that your old colonial era stone buildings haven’t suffered the consequences to the same degree, because of your warm, dry climate. Although I could be wrong about that? Thanks for your interest and good luck with the heat!

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