Stone Cottages and Lime in Ireland

“Why Lime?

Lime mortar, traditionally used by our ancestors to bind stone to stone in the building of bridges, lighthouses, homes and monasteries, was suddenly displaced by the arrival of cement in the early 1900’s.

   On the face of it, cement had much to offer with its quickly hardening properties. Lime was cast aside.

   Seventy years later and with the benefit of hindsight we see what a mistake this was, with the demise of our vernacular architecture speeded not least by the unsuitability of cement to our stone buildings.

   Stone needs to move and settle within a structure. Cement once dried is too brittle to allow movement; hence cracks appear to accommodate expansion. Once cracked, moisture gets trapped within the wall and even within the stone.…”

6 Responses to Stone Cottages and Lime in Ireland

  1. limewindow says:

    Lloyd – many folk think we are crazy using lime and stone (which is now twice as expensive as cement and blocks).
    Less than a century ago there was a working Lime Kiln in every town land in Ireland but Portland cement blew that away. Even yet people tend to associate stone cottages with poverty and hardship of the past, but they ‘ain’t seen nothin’ yet’. The current recession simply refuses to go away and neither do those mortgages on ten bed roomed mansions pay themselves.
    We want to spread the notion that everything we need is here in our landscape, heritage and skills – for people to take heart and awaken to that.
    Thanks for this mention from myself and from all the guys in Donegal!
    Louise Price

  2. Lloyd Kahn says:

    Louise – Wonderful!

  3. jparkes says:

    I love those stone cottages…always think of Ireland and turf fires when i see one. They will last centuries so the cost and work are well repaid. The only downside really is plumbing and electrical not being in the walls…but hey, we can overcome those minor issues.

  4. limewindow says:

    jparkes –
    Yes Lime is a massively under rated and misunderstood material,not only strong but ecological, both in its production and recycling value. It is permeable and hydroscopic therefore creates a healthier living environment. It is self healing & can close narrow gaps within itself. It is very beautiful too!
    Plumbing & wiring issues shall be overcome – by buckets of sweet rain water (we got plenty) and a tilly lamp.

  5. ROSEN says:

    The cement hardens within 28 days. As far as I know in reinforced concrete continues this process 150 years max… Then what? – collapse and end.Mortar – lime, sand and water – solidification up to 1500 years – history.

  6. limewindow says:

    Rosen – Certainly it has been discovered by archeologists looking at castles and forts , some of which have stone walls of three or four yards deep, that lime mortar has taken centuries to full ‘go off’ or harden in the heart of the wall!

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