Thatcher 'sick' at second arson attack on historic building

Pictures: Seamus Farrelly

A master tradesman who only finished thatching a 200-year-old pub in Co. Louth before the roof was set on fire for the second time in just three months said he was 'sick' on learning about the arson attack.

The former historic pub in Drogheda had only been restored after a five-year local campaign when arsonists first hit in February.

Experienced thatcher Peter Childs had only finished re-thatching it again last Friday when fire-starters hit last Sunday.

The attacks on the much-loved landmarks have left locals reeling.

Mr Childs, who was in the UK visiting friends when he heard of the fire, said he "was a bit aggrieved really".

He said: "To be perfectly honest, I was totally disgusted. The owners put so much into that place to get it back to its former glory and it's just getting dragged back down by local thugs, arsonists, whatever.

"It's not good for the area, it's not good for Drogheda. The thatched places are part of Irish heritage. You have to ask yourself who's doing it and why are they doing it?

"It's ridiculous to be honest with you and now I have to go back and thatch it again and what's to say it won't be set alight again after that."

Mr Childs said he had intended on his return from the UK to arrange getting a fire retardant to put on the thatch

Peter Childs
Peter Childs

"It's another three weeks work and it's not an easy job. It breaks my heart to see it happen again. I've no words to describe it. I'm sick."

The thatcher who works all over the country said he has never witnessed any other arson attack on a thatched property other than in Drogheda

"Most fires on thatched roofs are caused by old electrical wires, new or uncleaned chimneys. I haven't heard of any set alight like they have here.

"People think it's more money for me now to do this job yet again but I've other customers to look out for. I'm booked up until the middle of next year so I don't want to have to come back to the same job over and over and over again because some idiot is burning it.

"But I think the people of Drogheda will win this one. They'll be looking out to protect it now," he concluded.

Gardai confirmed that they are investigating the incident which occurred last Sunday night.

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