The cottage restoration

Originally built around two hundred years ago

There appears to be a building at this location on the first OS maps from the 1830s. There’s no reason to believe that this isn’t the same one!

It’s certainly marked on the 1902 map. So we think that the cottage is probably a couple of hundred years old – or even older.

Derelict Irish cottage before restoration

Ready to stand for another two hundred years

The original stonework is really impressive. Well-built, thick walls glued together with lime mortar. There was originally a thatched roof (long since removed before our time).

The wet Donegal weather had got the better of part of the roof and the lime mortar was crumbling. Water was trapped in the walls by a layer of cement render that was added in the last fifty years, but it was cracked and was falling off in places.

Inishowen Artists' Retreat & Studio in July 2022

Back to bare bones

We started restoration in 2009. We started slowly, peeling back the layers to reveal the old stonework for sensitive repair, replacing rotten timbers and introducing some more modern elements like insulation where it was appropriate.

It was important to us that the building was allowed to ‘breathe’ again – by using lime mortar, render and plaster – but also that it was as energy efficient as possible, whilst still maintaining the integrity of a traditional Irish cottage.

Inside an Irish cottage undergoing restoration

Keeping a part of history alive

In many ways, it would have been easier to knock the cottage down and start again. But that was never in our minds. The building is a part of the local landscape and history.

Rebuilding the walls became a labour of love, using the same stone that the local stonemasons used all those years earlier.

Local people tell us of their experience of the cottage over their lifetime. This all helps to paint a picture of life in rural Donegal.

A rusty corrugated cottage roof

The finishing touches

The whole project has taken us twelve years to complete. We opened in July 2022.

With simple furnishings, we think we have created a unique experience for you to stay in, develop your creativity and as a base for enjoying everything that Inishowen, County Donegal can offer you.

Cottage with scaffolding