Hi Conor here. I'm running 144km on behalf of my local church to raise some money for an historic thatched cottage in the village I grew up in.
We're trying to open the door to a thatched building's future. Can you help us?
What's the problem and why, Conor, are you running 144km?
Thatched cottages were once a common site in Northern Ireland, in 1950 about 30,000 were thought to survive, but today only around 144 of those historic homes remain. That's a remarkable loss of our heritage and in living memory too. I want to do something to highlight that loss and try to find a solution for this thatched building in particular - The Kilmore Cottage - which has great potential and stands at the heart of the place I grew up in.
Can you see the handmade straw ropes which they used to tie the thatch down?
The Kilmore Cottage is one of those historic thatched survivors and has stood since at least the early 18th century, appearing on a map of Kilmore dated 1707. It was gentrified by the addition of a fanlight doorcase in about 1820 and still retains historic thatch and significant roof timbers under a later tin roof. The building is protected through statutory listing in recognition of its special architectural and historic significance, but as a result of a lack of the funding needed and a significant conservation deficit - being the difference between restoring the property and its end economic value - it has stood vacant since the 1980s.
The cottage is owned by the adjacent Kilmore Parish Church who have been trying to find a long term solution. However, despite the cottage being valued locally as an historic building with great potential to regenerate the core, community and character of a small rural village, the likely costs involved in restoring the building to the conservation standards which would be required are substantial, particularly in relation to its likely end economic value. Despite this deficit lots of different possible uses have been suggested locally, from tourist accommodation and a coffee shop, to just restoring it as a dwelling. However, we need support to undertake a viability study to identify which use will attract the funding necessary to make it happen, in order to have both the output and outcomes which we hope to achieve for both the cottage and Kilmore village generally.
Kilmore Cottage today:
A view from the church tower - Kilmore Cottage stands at the centre of the village and has great potential for heritage-led regeneration of the heart of a small rural village
The photo below shows the cottage when it was last occupied in the 1980s, along with the tin roof which still protects the significant historic thatch underneath. Can you spot the 'jostle stones' originally installed to protect the cottage from encroaching cartwheels?
What are we raising the funds for?
1. To help with some of the initial costs which we hope will unlock the door to further funding and ultimately a viable future for the Kilmore Cottage.
Can you help please? :-)
Kilmore Cottage is owned by Kilmore Parish Church (NI registered charity number: 104084) and donations will go to them towards the Kilmore Cottage in the hope that this will unlock further funding to help secure its future.