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Voices from the Traditional Houses of County Laois

written by Mary Ann Williams
original research by Sinéad Hughes and Bronagh Lanigan


"A century after the 1911 Census, a thatched house in Laois is as rare as the corncrake. In 1911, more than half of the county’s houses were thatched; today only 34 of these historic thatched roofs remain, although, in some places, the old thatched roofs still survive under sheets of corrugated iron.

Some families have cherished and maintained their thatched houses for generations. Others associate the old thatched houses with harder times and a way of life that, mercifully, has passed.

Today, the challenge is to conserve the best aspects of the old thatched houses—such as their thick walls and insulating, locally sourced roofs—while helping them become vital, functioning houses for 21st century families.
Like any task worth doing, it is not easy. And in difficult economic times, the fate of the thatched houses of Laois appears even more uncertain. But one thing is clear: once the historic thatched houses go, an important part of what makes Laois itself will also be gone."

—excerpt from Thatch: Voices from the Traditional Houses of County Laois



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