The continued existence of a built landscape is dependent on there being enough people with traditional building skills to maintain and sensitively modify this finite resource.
The Mayglass Farmstead is an exemplar and rare survivor of a type of two-storied thatched rural dwelling of the Irish vernacular tradition and one of the most significant conservation projects ever carried out by The Heritage Council.
The Heritage Council funded the refurbishment of a thatched house and the conservation of its contents at Mayglass, Co. Wexford during the period 1998 -2000. The house, outbuildings and its contents form what is considered to be one of the most important vernacular farmsteads in the country and this is the only project of its kind in Ireland.
The house was built in a number of phases from the early 1700s to the late1800s, but has remained largely unchanged since then. Lived in by Seamus Kirwan until the mid 1990s, it contains a fascinating collection of Irish country furniture, together with his family's farm and household effects dating from the 18th to the late 20th centuries.
The project has attempted to adhere to the highest standards of conservation, with minimum intervention, repairing rather than replacing, and where interventions were necessary, they are all fully reversible.
Work was carried out in various stages:
- Protection of house
- Conservation of furniture and artefacts
- Wall repairs and re-building
- Thatching of roofs
- Internal repairs and environmental monitoring
Following advice from the National Museum of Ireland, the house interior and contents were catalogued, furniture and artefacts removed, and conservators appointed to repair them. These objects have now been conserved and are in storage. Much of the original wallpaper in the parlour was expertly cleaned, repaired and re-attached where necessary.
Aims and Objectives
The Heritage Council hopes that the project will provide an example for others who wish to undertake work on similar buildings throughout the country.
The aims of the project are:
- To identify and study the appropriate traditional techniques for the repair and maintenance of the mud-walled buildings so typical of this part of Wexford.
- To increase awareness of the qualities of these buildings among the local population.
- To promote an awareness of the importance of these techniques for repair and maintenance among owners and the craft workers who work on the buildings.
- To establish links with other European regions who face similar problems of conserving their stocks of important traditional buildings
The Council has had an ongoing relationship with the current owners, Leo and Eileen Casey. A book entitled ‘A Wexford Farmstead' detailing the experience was published in 2003. In 2005 The Heritage Council also oversaw the documentation and conservation of the furniture and other contents of the house.
The Mayglass 2000 website provides information, including a gallery, on the conservation project. www.mayglass-2000.ie
The building was entered in the Register of Historic Monuments in April 2001, and is included in Wexford County Council’s Record of Protected Structures since 2013.
An annual grants scheme for the conservation and repair of traditional farm buildings and related structures for farmers in the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS)
The programme is run in partnership with the Chester Beatty Library, the National Gallery of Ireland, the National Library of Ireland, The National Archives and Trinity College Dublin.