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Building of the Month - January 2008

Thatched Farmhouse, BALLINDERRY BIG Td., County Westmeath

Ballinderry Big 01 - Representative View 

Figure 1: A thatched farmhouse representing an excellent example of the lobby entry type.  The roof is thatched using indigenous straw, an increasingly rare thatching material in Ireland due to the availability of cheaper imported Turkish reed

This beautiful thatched farmhouse dates from the eighteenth century and is located in its own farmyard near Kilbeggan, County Westmeath.  In terms of form and materials it conforms to the lowland vernacular tradition: an elongated rectilinear plan form constructed of rubble stone with applications of lime render showing a characteristic limewash finish.

Ballinderry Big 02 - Spy Hole 

Figure 2: A view through the timber boarded half door looking into the lobby with its "spy hole"

The alignment of the door with the chimneystack indicates a lobby entry plan form where a jamb wall, complete with "loggie hole" or "spy hole", is oriented at right angles to the hearth.  This forms a lobby to protect the hearth from draughts outside while allowing the half-door to be kept open for light and air.  The "spy hole" also gives the resident a perfect view of approaching visitors to the house while seated beside the hearth.

The high pitched roof is finished with an indigenous straw thatch, the ridge flush to the roof and showing minimal superfluous ornamentation.

Ballinderry Big 03 - Setting 

Click here to view the range of vernacular buildings recorded by the NIAH in County Westmeath

Sharon Kelly, Architectural Heritage Advisory Unit, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government

All photography by Shannon Images from the NIAH publication An Introduction to the Architectural Heritage of County Westmeath

Ballinderry Big 04 - Introduction 

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