The Shell Cottage, located in the small seaside village of Cullenstown, Co. Wexford is one of Ireland’s most unusual and artistic thatched cottages, forming a part of our national heritage that is sadly declining. Unfortunately, due to extensive storm damage and weathering, the cottage now needs your help to ensure that it does not deteriorate beyond the point of saving.
About the Shell Cottage –
Dating back to the 1700’s, the Shell Cottage bears the life’s work of my grandfather Kevin. L. Ffrench who spent over 30 years painstakingly decorating the external surfaces of his home in seashells from local beaches, creating a series of intricate murals and designs.
Apart from it’s unique shell work, the cottage is immersed in history, with it’s roof timbers originating from local shipwrecks and it’s links to the tragic Fethard Lifeboat disaster of 1914, when following the sinking of both the Norwegian schooner ‘Mexico‘ and the Helen Blake lifeboat, crew members from the Mexico were sheltered and given refreshments in the cottage.
As well as being a popular local landmark, the cottage is known both nationally and worldwide with people from all over the globe visiting throughout the years and whether they knew Kevin, spent summer holidays in the area as children or simply took a quick photo while passing through, it seems that many people have a fond memory or story to share.
Why we are fundraising –
Following Kevin’s passing in 2003, the cottage and its surrounds have been cared for by his daughter and current owner Catherine, who most recently restored it in 2006. However, as the years have progressed, the thatched roof has deteriorated, reaching crisis point in 2017 when Storm Ophelia battered Ireland and caused severe damage.
As a result, huge sections of the thatched roof were destroyed, causing water damage to the interior lime plastered walls and the electrics and sadly destroying some of the beautiful shell work – mainly a dolphin mural, which was the last piece that Kevin worked on before his death.
Although we have continued to undertake smaller cosmetic works, a lack of funds and continued weathering has now left the cottage in critical need of essential restoration works so that this iconic piece of heritage is not lost.
How You Can Help –
While we have always tried to maintain the cottage using our own resources, a recent evaluation of the growing scale and cost of work needed, has resulted in our decision to launch this GoFundMe in an attempt to ensure the long-term survival of the cottage.
We have thankfully secured some assistance through the Built Heritage Investment Scheme 2021 from Wexford County Council and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, with grants which will help to cover half of the thatching portion of our overall costs.
All funds raised shall be used towards the following essential works:
- Re-thatching of cottage roof
- Lime rendering of interior walls
- Repair of water damaged electrics
- Chimney repair and flashing
- Replacement of damaged windows
- Repairs to damaged shell work
- Ongoing maintenance
We greatly appreciate any and all contributions towards helping us to restore the Shell Cottage to its former glory and preserving my grandfathers work. Thank you in advance for your support and to stay updated on works as they happen, you can follow our Facebook or Instagram pages - @shellcottagewexford
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