We are delighted to announce the conclusion of major conservation work on the ornamental Pigsties, which are part of a Model Farmyard built by the Cosby family at Stradbally Hall in the late 19th century to demonstrate and research improvements in agricultural techniques, efficiency, and building layout. Thanks to a generous grant awarded by the Heritage Council under the GLÁS Traditional Farm Buildings Scheme, the Pigsties were preserved and returned to a useable state by Damien Condon and his team from Calx Restoration, overseen by Southgate Associates. We would also like to acknowledge the invaluable input and assistance of both Anna Meenan of the Heritage Council and the Department Agriculture, who administered the scheme.
Located to the east of Stradbally Hall, the Pigsties date from the 1860s and remained in use until the 1960s. They comprise five separate berths with cut stone capping and an inspection passage to the rear that also forms part of the garden walk. Being part of the Model Farmyard, the Pigsties demonstrate a high standard of traditional craftsmanship in their construction, but had unfortunately become derelict over the years as small-scale pig production became unsustainable.
The main repairs required were to the roof. Fortunately, most of the original slates were in good condition, and so were simply stripped and reset, with salvaged slates sourced to match any missing.
The damaged/damp roof timbers were expertly splice-repaired where necessary and, in some cases, replaced. Interestingly, saw marks from the original building’s construction were discovered during the conservation process, which gave the Calx team a helpful insight into how the original roof was built. Unusually, the Pigsties also have cast iron skylights, and these too required conservation and repair. The original gable doorway was also unblocked, providing the building with a useable entrance once again. Another unusual feature is the masonry pigpens at the rear of the building which were consolidated and repaired – even missing capping stones were located and re-set using
lime mortar, an important traditional building material.
Throughout the project, CALX used traditional materials and methods on a like-for-like basis and, in keeping with conservation best practice, carried out repairs on a minimum intervention programme. Consequently, as much historic fabric as possible of the Pigsties was preserved and only repairs required to consolidate and preserve the building were made. The Pigsties are now not only a superb demonstration of traditional vernacular architecture and building skills, but also an engaging addition to the new programme of tours being developed for Stradbally Hall in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. From 2021, these new tours will take in not only the Hall itself but also its extensive pleasure gardens and the aforementioned Model Farmyard, providing a fascinating insight into the progressive approach to farming taken by the Cosby family during the late 19th century.