€5million fund for conservation and repair work

A renovated thatched home on Inis Mór in the Aran Islands
A renovated thatched home on Inis Mór in the Aran Islands

It is not known how many thatched houses remain in the country except that there are thousands of them in various states of repair.

As set out in the Planning and Development Act 2000, the maintenance of a Record of Protected Structures is the responsibility of each planning authority, which also decides if a structure should be included on the Record.

If a structure is listed, certain obligations lie with its owner to ensure that any element of it that contributes to its special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest is not endangered.

There are schemes administered under the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to fund thatched structures, as well as a scheme administered by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

However, qualification for a grant depends on the structure being prioritised by the relevant local authority and within the context of the resources available.

In 2014, a fund of €5 million was made available under the Built Heritage and Jobs Leverage Scheme for the repair and conservation of protected structures under the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2012.

This scheme, which was operated and administered by the local authorities, supported works to over 50 thatched structures nationally.

A new scheme, the Built Heritage Investment Scheme, was recently announced for 2016. Its aims are broadly similar to the 2014 scheme and should provide funding for thatched structures, if such structures are recommended by local authorities.

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Under the Structures at Risk Fund, which is administered by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, via the local authorities, total funding of €75,000 was allocated for four thatched projects in 2015.

The Heritage Council administers a heritage management community grants scheme but applications have now closed for their 2015 scheme.

It offered a total of €32,000 to eight thatched projects in 2015.

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