Thatching is a traditional way of building a roof using straw, reeds or other similar materials. It is a skill that was passed between generations of craftsmen. Our video shows two generations of the Kilpatrick family re-thatching Curry’s Cottage in 2013, however, this was a job that Mr Curry would have traditionally undertaken himself. Willow and rye were grown within the vicinity of the property and applied to the cottage by Mr Curry using handmade wooden tools. Some of those tools still survive in the house today.
Historically thatching was a widely used and low cost method of roof building, developing distinct regional variations due to the use of local materials and the influence of local weather patterns. With the increased development of railways and canals in the 1800’s, transporting building materials became easier and slate became popular for those who could afford it. The numbers of thatched roof dwellings continues to decline in Northern Ireland. In 1950 there were 50,000 thatched cottages, today that number has sadly decreased to around 150.
Thatch is a naturally insulating material as it traps pockets of air. Its use will keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer.
The use of a thatched roof on a rural property will help it blend into its surroundings and avoid the creation of visual pollution.
Thatch is very environmentally friendly, it can be grown locally and harvested easily, without much machinery. Its production and application provides much needed employment in rural communities.