Thatched Cottage Ireland

a lovingly restored cottage in the West of Ireland

We are selling the cottage

The time has come to pass this beautiful place on to someone else – our cottage is for sale.

It’s been an utter joy renovating it, experiencing rural life, the quietness, the sunsets, the history, walks to the lake, the stove in winter, late nights in the garden in summer and spending time here with friends and family.

But we live in London and can’t spend as much time here as hoped. It’s also time for us to move on to our next renovation project whatever that might be…

Cottage drone video

Thanks to our good friend Achim for this fantastic video of the cottage.


Galway sun, a whitewashed wall and thatch. Love this photo.

Summer holidays at the cottage

This summer we are spending a full month at the cottage, which will be our longest stay yet.

We’ve been here a week now and are enjoying the space, the outdoors, walks to the lake and the amazing sunsets…


A tour of the cottage

Let’s take you on a walk through the main rooms of the cottage. These photos are all post-refurbishment.

When you walk through the front door of the cottage, you are in the living room. There is another door directly opposite leading to the rear, a huge fireplace to the right and a staircase to the left.

From my research of thatched cottages, I now know this is called a ‘direct-entry’ house, and the door used was dependent on the direction the wind was blowing on a given day.

Both front and rear doors are ‘half-doors’ which would have allowed air in without cattle being able to cross the threshold.

Traditionally this main room in a thatched cottage would have been a kitchen and living room all in one and in some cases with a double bed in the corner!

One of the big attractions of our cottage was that it has a separate kitchen off the living room.

The room on the other side of the living room is a bedroom – big enough for a double bed.

This room has a nice view out into the garden and we love the traditional deep window recesses.

Behind this is a bathroom, which we have completely refitted with a new shower, WC and wash hand basin.

The staircase is beside the bathroom and leads to a mezzanine floor.

To the right is another bedroom where we have two single beds.

On the main mezzanine area we have a sofa bed, handy for guests to sleep and also as a kids ‘den’ for TV watching/playing games on rainy days!



It’s been 18 months since we set about renovating our thatched cottage in Headford, Co. Galway which we have now completed.

On this site we will be writing about our experiences setting out on the project, the renovation process and our experiences owning a thatched cottage. We look forward to hearing your comments and all about your own renovation experiences.

Audrey and Philip


Hidden beneath the ivy

There were various ruins of old buildings around the cottage, all covered in thick ivy. We didn’t think much of this particular structure which we presumed was just a dilapidated old shed covered in ivy:

However once ivy removal started this beautiful structure started to emerge:

It turned out the stonework is in great condition with a limestone lintel over a wide opening (seen here below the apex):

We don’t have any information about the history of this structure, but one theory that this is where the family would have kept their horse and cart. The opening where the door once was leads straight onto the lane so presumably it was built in this orientation for easy access. For this reason we’ve started to call it the carriage house, a delightful surprise indeed hiding beneath the ivy!


Is a thatched roof asking for trouble?


As we have learned most people think owning a thatched property is a really bad idea!

A picture on a postcard? – adorable, but owning one conjures nightmares of fire, expense and collecting rain in saucepans.

In fact, the thatch has been one of the easier parts of this project. Firstly, we managed to find an expert skilled thatcher early on to guide us. This put our mind at ease on the quality of the roof, which fortunately was reasonably good and just in need of some maintenance. Secondly, we realised that the longer term economics of owning a thatch roof once understood were not that bad.

We’ve come to realise that although the thatch requires yearly maintenance and will eventually need to be replaced, this expense is nothing compared to the maintenance required on a larger property. When we were looking at houses on the Irish market we could have picked up a large 4/5 bedroomed house in the countryside for the same price. But that’s 4/5 bedrooms with each room having at least one window, door, carpet, interiors and furnishings to maintain. Then theres painting, inside and out – more surface area. More bathrooms, more fittings. More plumbing, more electrical work. Houses have roofs too – big ones! Our maths told us that longer term a thatched cottage would be cheaper to maintain simply because its smaller than most houses.

But don’t you have to replace the thatch eventually? Yes but a good thatch can last 20 or more years. You can also extend the life of your thatch by 5 to 8 years by spending about €150 a year on maintenance.

On the subject of fire, if you do the research you’ll find that most fires on thatched properties are not due to sparks landing on the thatch as you might expect. They are from badly constructed and badly insulated chimneys that allow the heat from the fire to heat the thatch causing fire. You cannot get insurance unless you can prove you have put in the correct insulation to prevent this. So in practice if you follow the guidelines the risk of fire is minimal.

So the verdict on thatch? We love it!

New sewer pipe

It had not been mentioned in our survey that sewage waste from the cottage was being processed via a macerator.

A macerator takes sewage waste and disintegrates it so it can be pumped away via a small pipe. We had seen a skinny pipe outside the back wall but assumed it was a water pipe leading to the bathroom. In fact this was the macerator pipe but we were still a bit confused why the sewage didn’t just flow directly to the septic tank without this pumping mechanism.

It soon became apparent that the cottage is in fact built on a large slab of limestone rock. The macerator approach avoided having to dig into the rock and lay sewage piping.

Discussing it with our builders we decided that having a macerator wouldn’t be the best plan longer term. Macerators can be prone to failure, need an electrical supply and the exposed pipe protruding from the back of the cottage was both unappealing and at risk of freezing in a particularly cold winter.

Tom and Laurik decided to dig out a trench for sewage piping that would provide a direct route using gravity to the septic tank. This required digging through solid rock and care needed to be taken to avoid vibration damage to the cottage.

They eventually came up with a technique whereby they used circular saws to partition sections of rock and a jack hammer mounted on a digger to dig it out. They used lasers to ensure they were getting the correct angle such that gravity could do it’s job.

A big job but well worth it, and aesthetically the back of the cottage looks much better as a result.



Building work starts

At Christmas our builder Tom called around to chat about the project. Sitting at the kitchen table he surprised us by saying ‘Christy and the digger are free tomorrow, how about we start on site? It would be great to get a few days in while you are here.’ And so we were off!

Our Christmas trip to the cottage was the one time we thought it would be difficult to make much progress with the project, but before we knew it Christy had arrived and started clearing us a driveway as we almost had the car stuck in mud the day before.


Then digging moved to the back, clearing away the overgrowth and we were finally able to get a sense of how big the gardens would be. This had been difficult to judge before as they were inaccessible.


Top of the list was to finally assess the septic tank and the pipework so the guys traced the pipework and started to dig it out.


It had been a a struggle to walk around the land at the rear of the cottage, it had been so overgrown and full of rocks.


It was great to finally get started and see more of the surrounding landscape emerge.

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