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We are restoring a small 10acre holding which has been abandoned for 42yrs.

It consists of a six roomed cottage which was built about 1950. The old pre-famine house is in ruins, as is a cart house and some outhouses. The house has never had power or water, except for a concrete tank on the roof of the back porch which doubled as a bathroom/scullery, the toilet could be flushed when there was rainfall.

It is our intention to generate power and collect water to meet our needs. This is a sizeable undertaking.There are two entrances to the property, one from a narrow lane used only by a couple of farmers who have cattle on their land. The other one is from a top road and is secured by the springs of a bed. Both would have been used only to accommodate a horse and cart and have not been used for half a century.

The pages are in four parts the first being


EARTH  dealing with the garden and fields etc.  AIR  a section on wind power electrical generation FIRE deals with the installation of the various solid fuel fires and WATER with the rainwater collection and storage There is a small piece on this page about each subject.




 It is a very peaceful place ,even the old road inseen here on the very right is overgrown



But it's not long before the first smoke for forty years is flowing


There is  stream which will be useful if we get very dry summers, On the right a view up towards Ben Bulben



Heres the front gate it used to be a bed, one of the first jobs is to get a shed roofed for to hold the tools and bits and pieces.



It is over forty years since anyone lived here, and we will need some help to get tools and equipment up to the house. Two old Land Rovers have been lying in wait for just this moment. They too are hoping for a face lift or some botox, but that is for another day. 




The old landrovers are really handy for bringing materials to the old house, as you see the old road is completely rushes and grass after many years of neglect



The reliable red tractor with it's transport box/buckrake which we lovingly prepared for this and other tasks last year on our return from Scandinavia is rearing to go.







2nd September 2006

Where to start ?

We ordered windows and doors for the house in May and are due to arrive any day now, so in d'oul mean time we set to work on the outhouses as storage space is urgent. The first shed has a roof, so that's a good start. The floor like all the others has a foot in depth of composted soil, which will be good for the, time to dig in. With an extra foot in height we decide to keep the door opening the the original size. Jimmy used old floor boards and timber to make the door and window. Recycle is our first choice, only purchasing what we absolutely have to. A few replacement nails and a fresh coat of paint for the roof, doesn't it look cute !


Measuring up for a new window and on the right the old bog oak lintel.. Also we make a door , and not a very high one either to keep thing as they were




And so to the next one.

This one has ash trees for the roof and blackberry bushes a plenty. Digging out this floor reveals a lot of shoes. Did a cobbler live here? Liam a friend and neighbour, whose father was an uncle of the family that lived here, told of six christenings that he attended in our house. Each child was born in the house, a rare hooley was had for each one of them. No wonder that there was so many pairs of footwear left behind when they departed for England in April '64. We have also uncovered a beautiful slab floor which was a cow shed, with drainage in the center. The tops of the walls need some work before putting on the roof. Jimmy is happiest when working with stone and I, being a willing apprentice am quickly learning that there is the right stone for a particular place. Once we get the timbers on, Dave a "one off" ever ready friend, lends a hand with the felt and tin. Jimmy and Dave resized old windows to keep out the winter winds.







Yes its a daunting task but better not to think about it, The first ridge board being positioned afte rbeen treated with preservative




It is time to seal up the house. After cleaning out 42yrs. of swallow poo and covering the windows with plastic to let the swallows know that we are here to stay, the windows are finally ready and are dropped off at Liam's house. They are beautiful, just what we wanted, we are a bit disappointed as we have been let down with the doors and have to look else where, winter is fast approaching. Liam to the rescue this time, we carefully transport them down the lane where the land rover takes over to bring them the rest of the way. Rain is pouring down, but by the end of the day they are all



A good neighbour is a great gift and here we have one of the best,

























We take the opportunityb to remove the dado rails , on inspection they are found to be in good shape so  they are stored away for to be cleaned up and painted at a later date.













The little Cart House




Liam told us that a cart and mowing machine were housed within. It is our intention to restore it to house a small grey 50yr. old tractor. We will use this tractor to attach a large cement mixer. Jimmy and Dave used them to mix clay and peat when they had a garden center, back in another life. It will be invaluable to us when mixing floors and putting on barges. The tractor deserves it and the cart house does too ! We can do it...........


















It took a lot of stone work, we uncovered buried stone from within and without. We used clay to bed in the new stones. With each stone uncovered there is a strong feeling of identifying with the ones who first put up these stone houses. The hardship of clearing the land, carrying these same stones (some huge)across the fields to position them onto just the right place. We have both had several experiences of a strong presence in the last few weeks, it feels good to be working the way the old people once did. Again Dave helped out with the roof, it was all hands on deck as the wind was rising when the felt was going on.




Nearing completion the little grey thing takes shelter from the elements.There are a few touches to make to her too, a new coat and eyes to see with, soon my dear........



Tree surgeon

Jimmy is never happy to cut down a tree, even when it it growing indoors. To retrieve and restore the original house they have to go. The roofed room to the right seems to have been built on at a later stage. The stone between the two rooms is not joined, nor is the hag ( a sleeping place beside the fireplace ) which has been cemented over and is cracked down the front as a result of tree rooting, it will have to come down as there is nothing holding it there. The back wall has a curve, the chimney is collapsed behind the trees. There is a lot of work to be undertaken here. The tree rooting makes it almost impossible to dig out the floor, the roots will needs to be winched which will add to the security of the already unsound walls.

The twin chimney pots seem to be buckets with the ends removed or may have been worn out, very inventive. There is a small dividing wall at the back, maybe it was a bedroom.The stone lintel lies in wait and there seems to be a solid floor about 18" below the surface.













The Courtyard




The yard is starting to take on an appearance now, we are uncovering flagstones outside all of the outhouses. It is back breaking shoveling work but rewarding. Molly is seldom out of the picture, after all she "is" the guard dog !!







It is getting harder and harder to leave at the end of every day, it feels like home. We now know what it's like for the swallows each year






It is our intention to put a bed in as soon as we get some doors. Doors ! well is is proving more difficult than we imagined. We have sent measurements off by email to several joiners but as yet we have not had any response. While it is almost half a century since anybody has lived here it is in a really good state of repair. The walls which are a double row of 9" solids with cavity are sound and the floors are very dry and include a dpc . For the moment we will continue to work outside, it is beautiful work. It is 17th October and the weather is mighty.








So its christmas eve and the door's have arrived at last . We got them made by a joiner from near Castlebar after the original guy who made the windows let us down. Just as well as it turns out, as 


Firstly we removed the old door which was not too difficult the frame was in good order, but the door had been replaced with an interior one as a temporary measure and it was quiet rotten.




Note the window in the back of the hall. The timber in it is sound with about 5 coats of paint, should make a nice feature.

they are fine pieces of work. They are made from cedarwood so they should last awhile.

Next we install the frame it is a tight fit but soon it is in position attached with the metal strapping provided. It is also sealed up with expanding foam for a nice fit. As there is no roadway up to the cottage we used the buckrake to carry up the doors. A few extra hands make for an easier job here.






It is quiet amazing how this house has been idle for over 40 years. I think it is symbolic of how wasteful we have become in Ireland. It would have been quiet easy here to demolish this and replace it with a newer one, most would I think.



Next the door is hung and locks fitted, just in time as it's getting dark It has had many coats of preservative applied so I will leave it to weather for the winter. Also I have fitted the door and windows on the outside walls, when the stone work is finished they won't be too deeply recessed, and it leaves a nice deep window sill inside.














While Jimmy and the lads hurry to get the door secured before dark, ' I light the range'. This is a magical moment for me as this is the original Stanley range that was in the kitchen in my mother's house. It was taken out about 45yrs ago and replaced by the then fashionable tiled fireplace. It looks just right here in the kitchen in Deireadh na bhruach. It will be our main source of heat and we intend to cook on it too. We will give it every opportunity to meet our needs.

The next few weeks will be an interesting time for this project as we are moving in to live here without electricity and running water, also we have not cleaned up the lane way to the cottage, which by now is fairly mucky, so each time we visit the house we walk the few hundred yards up, interesting on a cold new moon night after a few tunes in some pub.

So as the project goes on we can evaluate our real needs.





So the weather has changed a bit now, well it is mid January, so it's time to leave the outside work for later and we turn our attention to the interior

so to the... NEXT PHASE


As imbolg approaches

Little Robin

High in the naked Huate

You sing

Patiently waiting for

Return of leaves