The Management of Decline


Search the internet and as recently as two years ago you will find abundant references to Cartlan’s traditional thatched public house on the main street of Kingscourt, County Cavan, as well as many photographs of the building looking suitable picturesque. This is the state of the same building today, in the throes of what appears to be terminal decline. Unfortunately it is a spectacle replicated in far too many other Irish towns; the world has a super-abundance of ersatz Irish pubs while the real thing is allowed to fall into desuetude.

15 comments on “The Management of Decline

  1. Mairtin D'Alton says:

    What a shame.

  2. Patrick says:

    So glad you brought this up , this is so sad , although they are as much the victims of the changing social habits as the recession . Do you think a fund should be set up to buy some of the best of these and simply preserve and lock them up with the interiors untouched for another and perhaps more enlightened day , .

    • Dear Patrick,
      It is difficult to know what to do, but perhaps what is needed first would be local initiative; one feels visiting these towns that the residents seem unconcerned or resigned to watching the habitat go into decline. This was probably the most attractive building in Kingscourt and yet in just a couple of years it has fallen into serious decay…

      • Darragh says:

        Hate looking at it anymore. I used to collect glasses in it during the busy days and work in it during the Fair of Muff. The most embarrassing thing about it is seeing tourists (mostly Americans) coming up from Cabra Castle and walk by it with their cameras and then not take a photo. Expecting to see a nice building that does be on photos and postcards to the disgrace it is now.
        Kingscourt needs Gartlans back up and running and looking good so it can attract some interest to the town.

      • Thank you for your comment, which I have slightly edited as you made a comment which potentially could cause the building’s owner offence, and that is not the function of this site. However, I think you are right, Kingscourt does need to have this building back in service, and its present condition does the town no service: any visitors to the area seeing the dilapidation will just drive on, and not stop to spend money and help the local community…

  3. rjmackin says:

    Breaks my heart every time we walk past it… Incredible how quickly it fell into disrepair. Only 3 years ago it was still operating. I think some responsibility falls to the owner who received a grant to restore the thatching but was a bit too fond of his own merchandise!

  4. AnnaM says:

    A terrible shame. I see it is rated as being of national importance in the recently published architectural inventory of the county. Also featured in the recent Irish film The Irish Pub.

    • Thank you for your contribution. I had not realised this pub was rated of national importance, but one wonders at the value of such ratings when the building is permitted to slide into ruin without intervention.

  5. Jordan says:

    This is a shame. But unfortunately, the cost to replacing a thatched roof is no small thing. Kingscourt has grown a lot over the last few years and although there are people living in the town that wish to see the pub revitalised, there are just as many who couldn’t care less. Personally I think that the Cavan County council should put together a preservation plan for such buildings around the county, but I can’t see it happening. Also, has anyone asked what the owner thinks? If you were living in Kingscourt you’d probably know the answer to that…

    • Thank you for getting in touch. There are grants for repairing thatch, of which the owner could avail is so inclined. It is a great pity that both the local community and the local authority seem equally indifferent to the fate of what was once the most photographed building in the area: a short-sighted error that has repercussions, not least economic since there is now less likelihood of passing visitors/tourists troubling to stop and spend money. It is often only once these places have gone that their value is appreciated, an all-too common circumstance in Ireland.

  6. susan white says:

    happily, the same is now under restoration! is it true that it was never actually thatched at the back?

    • Thank you for your comment. Yes, I see that the building has recently changed hands and is due to undergo renovation; let’s hope this leads to a bright future.
      I am afraid I do not know whether the house was unthatched at the rear: it seems unlikely…

  7. Brenda says:

    Here is a link to the Facebook page if people want to keep track of its progress.

  8. James Babington-Stitt says:

    Dear Mr Aesthete,
    Brenda’s link above appears to show a good looking restoration. Perhaps this good news story deserves another post?

    • mdmcauley says:

      Yes, I agree with James Babington-Stitt. I visited Gartans (not Cartans) Pub yesterday, and it is in fine condition again with the newish thatched roof in excellent condition and the pub incredibly charming inside. They have added a beer garden on the inside (perhaps due to Covid personal spacing requirements), but the pub is otherwise unchanged from its traditional condition, including the store inside left in its original condition with props. I heartily recommend visitors to stop into the pub and would encourage the Irish Aesthete to note the good news here.

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