Jack the Soldier Thatching
Thatching is still
one of the great skills preserved in south Kilkenny and has been
handed down from generation to generation.There is a
"Seanfhocal" saying that "Ní hé lá na gaoithe,
lá na scolb", which means that the windy day is not the day
Reeds are grown on
the banks of the River Suir and are harvested in autumn. The
Reeds are cut and tied in bundles called sheaves, like the grain
crops in the olden days.
A sheave of reeds is about 30cms wide.
Thatching is done by a "thatcher", who is usually expert in his skill. A long ladder is needed. Plentiful supplies of reeds, spars, which are long thin pieces of willow cut in two and pointed at both ends.
An experienced thatcher will tie down the thatch with the spars and finish with a good design. A skilled thatcher will always have plenty of work. Thatched houses are cool in summer and very warm in Winter. New houses are still being thatched and a perfect example is "Tipperary Crystal" a few miles outside Carrick-on-Suir.
My father Noel
Kelly,Paddy Walsh,Matty Kelly and I cut reeds to thatch a pub in
We set out on the river Suir with our "Cot" and tools cutting reeds.My father used a special hook to cut the reeds.Each bundle is called a shave.When we had a thousand shaves cut we loaded them onto the lorry.Then we prepared scallops and some stretchers.We set off on our hundred mile journey to Dublin.
Matty my uncle is a master thatcher.To start the thatching we put up a bundle of reeds which are held up with a scallop and a stretcher.Next the bundle of reeds are tightend with a wooden mallet.You make your way up in sections and then trim it.If there is any old thatch that is in bad condition it has to be removed.Some thatchers make some lovely designs on the tops of roofs.Its a tradition in Ireland for many years.
Tools of the trade