UCC sod cabin in the running for national heritage award

UCC sod cabin in the running for national heritage award
The Prince of Wales emerges from a famine one-roomed 'Mud Cabin', recreated at UCC during his visit to Cork.

The sod cabin, An Bothán, built for the famine commemorations in UCC has been nominated for a national award. 

Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins and Prince Charles are just two of many who have visited the cabin since it was unveiled in May, to get an idea of life in Ireland for many in the 1800s.

The cabin has now been shortlisted for the Heritage and Conservation Award in advance of the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards 2018.

“The National Famine Commemoration Sod Cabin embodies real engineering initiative and skill and sets a very high standard in its category,” Caroline Spillane, Engineers Ireland Director General said.

The 2018 National Famine Commemoration took place in UCC and as part of the initiative, the one-room mud cabin was built adjacent to the original university buildings of the 1840’s. Completed in March, the sod cabin serves as an evocative monument to the Great Famine.

“Eighty percent of the population lived in one of these,” said Mike Murphy, UCC’s cartographer and co-author of The Atlas of the Great Irish Famine and The Atlas of the Irish Revolution.

An early photograph of an 1887 sod cabin in Donegal was used as the template for this build of UCC's Bothán.

“The project team consisted of academics and engineers,” UCC said. “A local contractor, Gebel and Helling Conservation Ltd., was selected to carry out the construction with UCC Buildings and Estates Office. These particular contractors have a special interest in the revival of traditional building techniques and hold regular public workshops and lectures.

“The organic construction materials used in the sod cabin were sourced locally from the grounds of our campus. The structure is a living structure and the vegetation growth changes with the seasons from the damp and cold spring to the hot and dry summer of 2018.” 

The last sod cabin disappeared in the 1940's and faded from popular memory. Members of the public can get a closer look at the Bothán as part of the walking tour of the UCC Campus. These take place Monday - Friday at 3pm and Saturday at 12 noon.

The Heritage and Conservation Award is just one of twelve category awards which will be presented at the forthcoming Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards.

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