To celebrate National Heritage Week in Ireland, the Irish branch of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) is hosting hands-on conservation workshops, talks and demonstrations 23-25 August at the farm buildings of Woodfield, Birr, Co Offaly.
This is Irish SPAB's third annual Summer Working Party. It builds on successful SPAB Ireland Working Parties in Derry-Donegal in 2017 and at An Cabhail Mhór, Co Clare, in 2018.
Volunteers from all walks of life can take part to gain hands-on experience of conservation while carrying out essential consolidation and repairs. This year you will be helping to renovate the impressive collection of 18th century farm buildings at Woodfield in Birr, in the centre of Ireland.
The farm buildings are of different ages with many interventions carried out over the years. It is a fascinating site, with evidence of many vernacular building styles.
Most of the farm buildings are in a poor state but are slowly being repaired. The farm buildings are part of the curtilage of the former Woodfield House, which was replaced by Tullynisk House, an 19th century Protected Structure in private ownership and part of the Birr Castle Estate. The estate is keen to see the historic buildings protected for future generations and has been actively engaged with the heritage sector for a number of years to try to conserve the site and use its buildings for educational and artistic purposes.
SPAB Ireland is delighted that this wonderful collection of buildings, along with its beautiful walled garden, has been entrusted to them for the Heritage Week event, with generous funding from the Built Heritage Investment Scheme and Creative Ireland.
The workshops will include hands-on skills such as lime kiln building and lime burning, hot mixed lime preparation and usage for re-pointing and structural repairs, all to be carried out under the watchful eye of experienced SPAB conservation professionals. There will be further workshops in timber formwork, joinery repairs, sketching, surveying and maintenance techniques involving repairs to historic ironwork and metalwork. This is an opportunity to work alongside fellow built heritage enthusiasts, professionals and building craftspeople.
Optional evening social activities will include a tour of other historic sites in the area, including Birr Castle itself. There will be a BBQ, music and story-telling.
You can choose to participate for one day (price €17.18) or for the whole weekend (price €48.83). Free camping will be available on site in the walled garden from Thursday 22 August.
On Sunday 25 August there will be a free, family-friendly public open day with demonstrations from traditional craftspeople between 10am and 1pm.
The event is payable through eventbrite and there are reduced rates for SPAB members, students and the unwaged.
Reserve a place through Eventbrite at bit.ly/2NXcpXB. There are reduces rates for SPAB members, students, and the unwaged.
Tríona Byrne, Chair of SPAB Ireland, says: "We are thrilled to be able to bring our annual Working Party event to Co Offaly this summer. We look forward to carrying out essential repairs to the collection of beautiful farm buildings at Woodfield as well as meeting people interested in learning more about building conservation and spreading the philosophy of the SPAB."