Picture: Farm buildings near St. Johnston that benefited under the Heritage Council’s Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme.
Funds are available for the conservation of County Donegal’s traditional farm buildings and other related structures from The Heritage Council in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme.
About €1.25 million in funding is available countrywide for farmers under the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) to help ensure that traditional farm buildings and other structures, that contribute to the character of the landscape and which are of significant heritage value, are conserved for agricultural use. The closing date for receipt of online applications to the grant scheme is Easter Monday, April 5 at 5 p.m.
“A variety of farm buildings can be found on County Donegal’s farmsteads and most of them are eligible under the Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme” explained Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer. “Several farm buildings in County Donegal have benefitted under the scheme in recent years. The scheme reinforces the role that farmers play as custodians of the rural landscape. As well as achieving the aims of GLAS, the Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme allows traditional farm buildings to retain their relevance to agricultural activities, helps to maintain aspects of our rural built heritage which are important to regional landscape character, and conveys rural ways-of-life and local history to visitors and locals alike. The scheme strongly encourages and supports farmers to carry out at least some of the repairs themselves. It also provides a means of employment in rural areas for local contractors and encourages local craftsmen to learn and apply best conservation practice.”
The aim of the Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme is to ensure that traditional farm buildings that contribute to landscape character and are of heritage value are conserved for agricultural use. The grant is available for the conservation of traditional farm buildings including roofs, walls, structural repairs, windows and doors. Grants will also be available for other related structures such as historic yard surfaces and landscape features around the farmyard such as walls and wrought-iron farm gates. To be eligible for the scheme, buildings and other related structures must have architectural or vernacular heritage character and make a contribution to their setting.
Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive of The Heritage Council highlighted the importance of the need to support traditional building skills in order to support this work. “The continued existence of this rural built landscape is dependent on there being enough people with traditional building skills to maintain, conserve and repair this finite resource” she said. “These buildings are of immense social and environmental value as well as serving as a very useful resource on farms. However, for these buildings to survive they need the skills that went into making them to remain living traditions. This funding invests in those craftspeople skilled in traditional repair techniques as well as the heritage expertise needed and will be particularly welcome by those sectors who have been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“The greenest building is the one that already exists, embodying carbon and offsetting the need for expensive new buildings as long they are well used” said Charlie McConalogue T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. “The benefits of the scheme go beyond retaining the structures for future generations because it can also have significant biodiversity benefits. Even the smallest building can provide roosting sites for bats and nesting sites for birds. Many can support a great diversity of wildlife, including species of conservation concern and this scheme works with farmers to support, enhance and safeguard the wildlife inhabiting these buildings.”
The Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme is open to farmers who (i) have a GLAS contract with the Department of Agriculture and who are approved for participation in the GLAS scheme and (ii) are the owner of the building/other related structure for which funding is being sought or are acting with the permission of the owner. The grant will cover up to 75% of the cost of the works. The minimum grant offered will be €4,000 and the maximum amount will be €25,000.
The Heritage Council estimates that 50-70 projects will be supported countrywide in 2021. Completed applications to the Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme must be made on-line to The Heritage Council in Kilkenny by Easter Monday, April 5 at 5 p.m. Further details and application forms are available from The Heritage Council website at: www.heritagecouncil.ie and on (086) 025 9202. Advice to applicants is also available from the County Donegal Heritage Office, Donegal County Council on (074) 917 2576.