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Old skills to help 18th century Ardress House look like new

By Joanne Sweeney

Published 18/07/2015

Ardress House today
Ardress House today
An exhibit in the agricultural museum getting a coat of paint in 1978
A handsome mantelpiece
Outside of the house in the late 1950s

An 18th century National Trust farmhouse in Co Armagh is to get a £120,000 facelift using traditional lime plaster.

It will take a year to complete the lime re-rendering of the outside of Ardress House in Annaghmore to restore the building to its original glory.

The project will be carried out by local craftspeople and will help to keep traditional building skills alive, said the National Trust.

Lime renders were traditionally applied to give protection to walls built of poor-quality rubble stone or porous brick, or to walls in exposed locations or facing driving winds.

It is slightly porous and works to absorb rainfall before it evaporates, rather than repelling it.

Edward Mason, general manager for National Trust Mid Ulster properties, explained: "When Dublin architect George Ensor built Ardress House in the 1700s, building techniques and materials were very different from those used in the past 50 years.

"The original facade was made of weatherproof materials to protect the walls. However, in the 1960s a cement-based render was applied to Ardress.

"This left the building susceptible to problems with damp, cracking render and flaking paint, caused by trapped moisture."

More than 8,000 people visit the house and working traditional farmyard and orchard each year.

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