The Department of Heritage is trying to establish an inventory of thatched cottages in Ireland, Minister of State with responsibility for heritage Malcolm Noonan has said.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, he confirmed that the inventory would ideally include thatched cottages that are lived in and that are derelict or abandoned.

A thatch working group has been set up and is chaired by Kilkenny thatcher Jimmy Lenihan.

“That thatch working group is looking at not just insurance issues, but a number of issues, including materials, the growing of indigenous materials, thatching straw and reed in Ireland, and the grant schemes that are in place.

“We hope to be in a position to come forward with some positive proposals to support the dwindling number of thatched properties and the people who own them, because they really are struggling.

“I think we have a lot of really good work ongoing in relation to that. I hope that we can tailor our grant schemes to support the owners of thatched properties to literally keep the roof over their heads,” he said.

Minister Noonan said there are around 2,000 thatched cottages in Ireland, but that there is no full figure available.


While recognising that the thatching industry is hugely challenging, the minister said he would “love to see a time where a property owner might, if there is enough incentive there, opt to put the thatch back on to a house”.

He added that he met with Minister of State at the Department of Finance Seán Fleming on the insurance aspect of thatching last week and that a thatch insurance action group is carrying out work on the issue.