Angela Mannion claims that this remarkable heritage project “started out quite by accident”.
Tracing her ancestry, using the 1911 Census, shed light on what she regards as an “interesting and amazing fact”.
She discovered that traditional farm buildings on her smallholding in north Galway, date back to the late 1800s.
“They are included in the 1911 Census of Ireland and actually named five-in-all, stable; barn, piggery, cow house and fowl house,” she told That’s Farming.
“I also learned that my great-grandparents raised a family of eleven on this holding. They were obviously an industrious people evident from numerous out-offices, beautiful stone walls surrounding the farmyard and the laneway leading to the farm buildings.”
Grants of up to €25,000
An opportunity presented itself to bring the buildings back to their former glory.
As the farm is a GLAS participant, the family were eligible to apply for the Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme.
The scheme funds the restoration and preservation of traditional farm buildings and structures of significant heritage value and which are conserved for agricultural use.
It is jointly funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine under Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.
The financial allocation to the scheme is €6 million and grants available range between €4,000 and €25,000. They can cover up to 75% of the cost of the works.
Angela applied for the scheme and was accepted to undertake the project with her husband and sons, on behalf of her brother, Thomas Hegarty.
They engaged with conservation consultant, Aine Doyle, Westport, “who also worked hard and was on hand to answer all queries”.
“Aine was able to recommend restoration builder, Charles Stewart of Midland Restoration. His work speaks for itself.”
“As we had no experience of restoration work of any kind, it was extremely helpful to have the expertise of Charles.”
“This allowed us to proceed with work and source the materials needed, while reusing as much as possible of the old roof timbers and sheeting.”
Caroline Shiel carried out a bat bird survey and none were found in the farm buildings.
“It has been an interesting and great learning experience. Despite two lockdowns, due to COVID-19, we all forged ahead and managed the various challenges as best we could.
Angela also acknowledged the support, encouragement and enthusiasm from Anna Meenan, project manager, GLAS Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme.
“I wish to acknowledge her immense knowledge and obvious passion for culture and heritage as well as her patience and taking the time to personally visit the almost ruined transitional farm buildings.”
‘Last chance saloon’
“It really was last chance saloon for the buildings. A picture really does speak a thousand words and that is particularly true when you see the before and after pictures.”
“The storms of recent years had really taken their toll. I wish to thank all involved for their input with this project.”
“For obvious reasons, it is close to my heart. It would most certainly not have been possible without this grant,” she concluded.