Seacoast Cottage, located in Magilligan is the birth place and life long home of Edward and Eileen Quigley, an elderly brother and sister, both in their 70s who have lived there all their lives.
The cottage built in the early 1700's is a grade B listed dwelling thatched with marram grass, a pricky grass found growing in the sand dunes of Benone Beach and at Magilligan Point. To this day the cottage stands with no electric, in-house toilet, heating, running water nor modern day applicances that we all take for granted.
Recently featured on BBC Homeground, experts at the University of Galway believe the cottage to be the last remaining marram grass thatched cottage in Northern Ireland and possibly the whole of Ireland, making it of international Historical Interest.
Severely Damaged in the Winter Storms of 2014 when the Roof at the rear collapsed into the Bedrooms
In 2014 the roof of the cottage at the rear collapsed into the bedrooms during a winter storm, causing severe structural damage to the property and making these rooms unsuable. Edward has since had to sleep on the hard damp floor in a neighbouring room, because his bedroom is unreachable.
Many plees have been made to NI Politicans and to the Government Department that listed the cottage but no financial aid has been provided
Since 2014, I Mark Canning the elderly pairs Nephew have constantly lobbyed the NI Executive and the Department of Built Heritage to release emergency funds to save the cottage and the home of the two pensioners. To date this effort has been unsuccessful, and the elderly pair continue to live in squalor.
Minister Paul Givan DUP visited the cottage in late 2016 and it was our understanding that financial aid would be provided to make the emergency repair works possible. Following his visit the fund was capped and a much smaller offer than expected was offered. The limited offer and its timebound nature (6 week window approx.) sadly made the much needed and planned repair works impossible.
Unfortunately listing restricts what can be done, even if it is a case of life and death
To save the home and make it comfortable for Edward and Eileen we had considered putting a tin roof on the cottage, which could be implemented for around £5000. However unfortunately the listing prevents this and the Department responsible wants to see the marram grass roof retained irrespective of the cost. To fix the roof and the back wall (which needs to be rebuilt), both of which were structurly damaged as a result of the incident it will cost approximately £130,000.
Unlike other thatched cottages with Water Reed or Straw thatch that can last up to 15-30 years, this cottage needs to be re-thatched every 3 years, because it uses marram. This again exposes the pensioners to a substantial ongoing liability, all of which is impossible without government support.
So as it stands, I believe the pensioners are forced to live in a squalor by a Government Department who then does nothing to help them.
As a last resort we call on the good nature and generosity of people to help us as it seems unlikely that our government will.
To find out more about this campaign, please visit our dedicated Facebook Page, where we will post regular updates:
Also check out our latest letter to the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, James Brokenshire pleeing for help:
In return for your donations we would like to give something back. Perhaps a personal tour of the cottage if and when the works are complete, or what about an overnight stay? Please send us your thoughts on our Facebook page.
From Mark Canning
on behalf of Edward & Eileen
- Siobhan Osborne
- Lisa Catherwood
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