Cottage, castle, mill or church? How to own & fix, Portumna Castle this weekend

Every year the Irish Georgian Society runs a wonderful weekend on Traditional building crafts, skills and materials called the Heritage Buildings Show. It takes place in a different location each year, and with the venue itself always a place of great beauty and historic interest.

This year’s edition is no exception, taking place next weekend at the particularly wow location of Portumna Castle (above and below) in County Galway. Given the topics covered, you never know who you might run into.  Highlights of previous years include a talk by actor Jeremy Irons, on how to restore a castle! *

The event is free entry.  Serious would-be owners or prospective builders, or romantic dreamers alike, can see and talk to lime mortar plasterers, traditional stone masons, and endless other crafts people and suppliers, as they ply their trade, provide demonstrations and offer advice. Other guests may prefer to wander around and enjoy the ambience of the castle and its parkland, or have a coffee, with the distant ringing of a traditional blacksmith hammering iron on the anvil.  Either way, this is a lovely day out, not to be missed.

The festival takes place takes place in marquees in the Outer Courtyard of Portumna Castle and in Portumna Castle’s audio-visual room, this weekend, Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th May. All demonstrations and talks are free of charge and no booking is required. For the full programme of events visit or

Speakers and topics being discussed include: Gerry McManus, Conservation Architect (Aspects of Conservation Work in the West of Ireland – characteristics, problems and rewards); Dr Fidelma Mullane, The Heritage Council (Galway’s Thatched Buildings); Jacqui Donnelly, Architectural Conservation Advisor, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (My House is a Protected Structure: what does this mean?); Sarah Jane Halpin, co-author of Clare Coastal Architectural Heritage Survey (Coastal Architectural Heritage: from Aughinish (Galway Bay) to Kilrush); Myles McKenna, architectural historian and OPW (Georgian Architecture: a talk for Leaving Certificate Art students on how to answer the ‘Georgian Architecture’ question); Úna Ní Mhearáin, Building Limes Forum Ireland (The Importance of Using Lime in Traditional Buildings); Aighleann O’Shaughnessy, retired Senior Architect, OPW National Monuments (Approaches to the Conservation of Ruins); Máirín Doddy, Architectural Conservation Officer Galway County Council, Ursula Marmion, Former Executive Director Irish Workhouse Centre, Portumna and Councillor Thomas Welby, Oughterard Courthouse Conservation and Heritage Co Ltd (Funding your Built Heritage Community Conservation Project); Colm Murray, Architecture Officer, The Heritage Council (Conservation Planning for the House – setting up repairs and improvements); Dr Nessa Roche, Architectural Conservation Advisor, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Historic Windows: their history, significance and conservation); Henry O’D. Thompson, The Old Builders Company (The Joint is not the Point: lime pointing in rubble stone walls, the importance of correct preparation and application); Willie Cumming, Director, NIAH, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage and the Galway County Survey); Deirdre McDermott, President of ICOMOS Ireland and member of ICOMOS NSC Energy & Sustainability (Energy Efficiency in Traditional Buildings); Laura Bowen, RIAI Conservation Architect and co-author of DAHG Advice Series, A Guide to the Repair of Historic Roofs (The Conservation and Repair of Historic Roofs).

All demonstrations and talks are free of charge and no booking is required. For the full programme of events visit or

About the Irish Georgian Society:  the Irish Georgian Society works to promote and protect Ireland’s built heritage, designed landscapes and decorative arts. It is a charitable organisation founded in 1958 with 2,000 members. Everyone is welcome to join,  and by doing so you support its important education and conservation work.


  • (Mr Irons and his wife use their castle almost entirely for charitable work I understand)
  • If you can possibly get to County Galway this weekend don’t miss this wonderful free and potentially transformation event.  Ireland and Europe are full of gorgeous historic buildings that need saving.  Time to get dreaming.  Or even doing.

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