05 Oct 2022

'Rolls Royce' of new roofs goes on historic thatched Offaly pub

Mallet Tavern thatch

Thatcher Kyran O'Grady at work at the Mallet Tavern in Tullamore (picture Ger Rogers)

THE roof on one of Tullamore's most historic old buildings is being rethatched.

The Mallet Tavern, a public house on Kilbride Street which has not been trading for a number of years, is being reroofed by master thatcher Kyran O'Grady.

Mr O'Grady said this week that he had previously thatched the same roof about 30 years ago and installing the new reed will take about a month.

Because of a shortage of reed in Ireland, much of what is going on top of the Tullamore pub is sourced from Romania.

In all, 1,000 square feet of thatch is being laid and because of the labour and time involved, it is a costly project for the property owner.

A State grant scheme is in place to help and in March the Mallet was awarded €6,000.

The thatcher declined to say how much he was charging but commented: “It's the Rolls Royce of roofs. Loads of people would like to have it but it's only those who really want it [get it].”

He added: “The likes of this roof would be tiled in three or four days but this is going to take me probably five weeks.”

The Mallet (formerly E Molloy's) is the last thatched building in Tullamore town and the only two-storey thatched building in Offaly. It fronts onto Kilbride Street and its rear faces the Grand Canal.

It is said to have been saved in the great Tullamore fire of 1785 because of its popularity with soldiers barracked nearby.

The fire was caused by a hot air balloon and the blaze destroyed most of the buildings in the vicinity of the Mallet.

Thanks to the current roofing project, the pub's roof now has what Mr O'Grady says is the “highest possible” fire safety specification, with a foil fire barrier, a fireboard underneath and fire prevention spray.

With good maintenance, especially the removal of moss growth, repairs to holes dug by birds and re-riding every eight to 10 years, he says the roof should last another 25 to 30 years.

Kyran O'Grady (62) is a native of Howth who lives in Co Wicklow. There was no family background in thatching.

“I had a dream of buying old houses and doing them up so I thought it would be nice to know how to thatch. And when I went to the trouble of learning it one thing led to another.”

The Mallet is owned by local businessman and property developer Seamus Kane.

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