SPAB Ireland Working Party 2023

SPAB Ireland 2023 Working Party

17/08/2023 - 20/08/2023
General Interest, Leisure Learning
Watermill by Billis Bridge
A82 XWF7, Co. Cavan

Member Ticket: Working Party (Friday - Sunday) €135 (£116 GBP)

Member Ticket: Working Party (Friday - Sunday) + SPAB TShirt €150 (£129 GBP)

Non member Ticket: Working Party (Friday - Sunday) - €150 (£129 GBP)

Non member Ticket: Working Party (Friday - Sunday) + T-Shirt - €165 (£142 GBP)

Event details

This event is fully booked. If you wish to be added to a waitlist, please email

What is the working party? 

Each year SPAB Ireland puts its advice and expertise into practice at the annual summer working party, by carrying out work to a specific building. It gives us  an opportunity to demonstrate our approach to the conservation and care of old buildings. An increasingly popular event, it offers the chance for volunteers, ranging from informed amateurs interested in buildings and history to heritage and architectural professionals, to work alongside some of the country’s best craftspeople. 

 Our working parties are a chance for participants to combine well-proven SPAB principles with practical repair techniques. For this working party, we welcome applications from anyone with some practical conservation experience- from students with an interest in buildings and history, to heritage and architectural professionals. The SPAB Ireland working party is a way to bring a diverse range of people together to share knowledge and to boost the skills which are required when working with historic vernacular buildings such as this.

When will the working party take place? 

This year's Working Party will take place from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th August 2023. Volunteers choosing to camp on site will be allowed to arrive from 6pm on Thursday 17th August.

Where will  the working party take place? 

This year, a SPAB Ireland Working Party will take place at Rothaí Mill, Co. Cavan. The group of structures consist of a mill, millers cottage, and kilns. 

The mill is over 200 years old. It has two water wheels - one for shelling and one for grinding, each powered by a different water source, a completely unique feature in all of Ireland. It was thatched until 1959 and stopped operating over 50 years ago, in 1969. The cottage is believed to be the miller's house that once fronted the main road. In the mid-1800s, a new house was constructed for the miller, and the kilnman and his family moved to the cottage to tend to the newly-built kilns overnight. It once housed a family of 13. Built in the mid-1800s, the two double kiln became a big part of the mill's operations. Even though it collapsed after years of disuse, it remains a beautiful ruin and landscape feature, with two rounded corners a true testament to the craftsmanship of the era. A curved ramp to the drying floor is still legible among the collapsed stonework.

The working party will provide a unique opportunity for building professionals, craftspeople, general builders, students, homeowners, and experienced enthusiasts alike to learn more about traditional conservation building skills through hands-on experience. 

Scope of Work

Thursday 17th August - Late afternoon / evening arrival: Volunteers who propose to camp over the weekend are welcome to arrive from 6pm and set up camp in the designated campsite adjacent to the site at Rothaí Mill.

Friday 18th and Saturday 19th August - Introductory morning session including site history, SPAB philosophy of repair, health & safety, and introduction to the proposed works. Workshops on site including lime mixing and repointing, roofing repairs and timber repairs. Demonstrations from a series of craftspeople will be held throughout the weekend, including roof repairs, joinery repairs and others. 

Sunday 20th August - Workshops will include relevant aftercare for the works undertaken across the weekend. We will have our final tidy up and departure. 

Breakfast and lunch is provided each day; activities and evening meals will be planned for the Friday and Saturday evenings, however these are an additional expense over and above the ticket price.

Who can take part? 

As always, the working party will provide a unique opportunity for building professionals, craftspeople, general builders, students, homeowners, and enthusiasts alike to learn traditional conservation building skills through hands-on experience.  

Attendance Fee

Applications are now open and the deadline is 5pm on Friday 04th August 2023.  

The fee for attendance is €135 for SPAB members and €150 for non-members. 

Note: Bookings through this page are available in Pounds only. The fee of €135/€150 converts to approximately £116/£129. 

Bursary places 

This year, the SPAB is delighted to offer a number of bursary places at the working party. These bursary places will cover the attendance fee, and include a subsistence and travel allowance of up to €250.

You can apply for a bursary place  submitting this form. If you have any questions before you apply, or would prefer to apply in another format, please email us at:, marking your message “SPAB Ireland Working Party Bursary”.   

Anyone can apply for a bursary, but priority will be given to students, people who are unemployed or those needing financial assistance to support their attendance at the Working Party.   

The SPAB is committed to eliminating discrimination and encouraging diversity in the sector. We particularly welcome applications by people from backgrounds underrepresented in building conservation.  

This project is supported by the Heritage Council under the Heritage Capacity Funding 2023. 

Evening Activities

Evening activities are being organised for both Friday and Saturday evening. These will include guided tours of local heritage sites, followed by a group dinner in a local venue. Travel and evening meals are at the attendees own expense, and are not included in the ticket price.


Breakfast will be provided for those choosing to camp on site. Tea and coffee breaks, as well as lunches on both Friday and Saturday are included in the ticket price. Please inform us of any dietary restrictions at the time of booking. 

Dinner will be at each attendees' own expense.


Many people camp on-site to make the most of the social aspects of the working party. Camping is free but please bring your own tent, sleeping bag, and any other equipment. Showering facilities will be provided for campers at an off-site location. 

There are various budget hotels nearby if you prefer to arrange your own accommodation - please note that they are not within easy walking distance of the site though so best for those with their own transport.  


We are committed to keeping the Working Party running as safely as possible.  Hand washing facilities and hand sanitiser will be available throughout the site, and most activities will be taking place outside.  We advise participants who have coronavirus symptoms and/or test positive for Covid 19 to stay at home and avoid contact with others for five days, in line with latest government guidance:

Please help us keep everyone safe by acting in a sensible way.  

Measures may change depending on government guidelines. If the situation changes, we may need to cancel the event or restrict numbers at short notice.  We'll keep all participants informed and, if we do need to cancel your place, you will receive a refund for any contribution you have made to SPAB Ireland towards the cost of the event.  

Please read our Booking Terms & Conditions for more information about cancellations and refunds. 

If you would like to get in touch with the organisers please email 

Accessibility: please let us know via the application form if there are any adaptations we can make that would make the Working Party more accessible for you. We would be happy to have an informal chat about the event and possible access issues before you apply. 

Booking Terms & Conditions

Accessibility: please contact the SPAB before booking to discuss any special access requirements

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