Thursday 23 May 2019

Open door call out for mud-walled owners

An example of artistry in clay
An example of artistry in clay
Building with earth blocks
Feile Butler

Brendan Keane

Owners of mud-walled homes across County Wexford are being asked to open their doors as part of a unique open house event taking place called Clayfest 2018.

The initiative is a six-day International Festival of Earthen Architecture which this year will take place in Ireland for the first time - from September 24 to 29.

The south east region of Ireland has the highest density of mud-walled houses in the country and the Irish National Heritage Park in Wexford has been chosen as the venue for the festival.

The event is being organised by Earthen Building UK and Ireland and it's expected that over 100 earth building enthusiasts, practitioners, professionals, researchers and product-makers from home and abroad will attend.

There will be hands-on, mud-based workshops under the guidance of local and international trainers and the festival will include a conference on day five.

The cost for attending the conference will be €115 while participation in the various workshops throughout the week will cost €85 per day. They will include topics such as: Artistry in Clay; Clay-Hemp walls; Experiments in Earth block; Reed and Earth plaster; Stone and Earth mortar; Turf walls and roofs; Upcycled cob dome; Wattle and Daub and Mud-wall repair.

There will be a Ceili at the Crannog on Friday, September 28, with tickets priced €35.

A spokesperson for the organisers said the general public are welcome to join in and no previous knowledge of earth building is necessary. After the week of construction and discussions the focus of attention will shift to some of Ireland's best-preserved earthen buildings including site visits.

It will be the 11th open house event organised by Earthen Building UK and Ireland and the call to home-owners in County Wexford includes those living in mud-walled houses, those who own a building with a beaten earth floor, a gable built from turf, or those who have mud-mortar between stone or earth plasters on their walls.

The organisers are also interested in hearing from people who may have undertaken an earth-based eco-build in recent years who are willing to let people visit their home 'for an hour or two' on Saturday, September 29.

Féile Butler, who is a Director with Earthen Building UK and Ireland, said opening the doors of their homes could prove very beneficial to the owners as the people visiting will include leading international experts in the area of mull-walled construction.

That means if the owners themselves have any queries about their homes they will have a very well-informed, captive audience to get information from.

'You may never have thought to much about living within mud walls,' said Ms Butler.

'Be prepared to meet a bunch of curious and appreciative people ready to be inspired by your home.'

Ms Butler went on to comment: 'Most of the population has no idea that earthen buildings exist in Ireland, that they can be comfortable and suitable for modern living, and that they don't actually wash away!'

'At a time when we are looking for solutions to climate change we need to get serious about one of the most sustainable materials out there - earth,' she added.

The open house tour will be a self-drive initiative with the organisers providing an itinerary and directions 24-hours in advance.

There will be a web page dedicated to the tour, similar to the main Clayfest page, with pictures and information about the buildings.

Homeowners who get involved in the tour can expect between 30 and 50 people to visit their property over a couple of hours on the day it takes place.

For people visiting the event there will be a return shuttle service from Ferrybank camp site and Redmond Square to the National Heritage Park between 9 a.m. and 5.15 p.m. throughout the week with the return journey costing €3.80.

Tickets must be booked 48 hours in advance and the organisers say it will not be possible to book a ticket within 48 hours of intended travel.

Anyone interested in putting their mud-walled building forward for consideration on the tour route is asked to contact Féile Butler on 086-8068382; 071-9300488 or at email

Wexford People

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