In the many years, too many to count, that I have been in Meath An Taisce, I have never ceased to be amazed by the commitment of its members to recording, and striving to save the vernacular features of our landscape. Right back from the time of Mrs Russell, who as planning officer in those days walked many miles watching and recording planning applications and buildings at risk, to our present members, their dedication has never wavered and it will not now.

It is not only the fine Georgian houses that we care about, it is the everyday buildings and structures- the cottages, courtyards, bridges, arches, gates, even the beautiful walls and stone-work on ditches, all varied, all using local craftsmen and materials. As I write this I am sitting outside two cottages built from stone taken from a quarry just up the road around one hundred and sixty years ago. Few probably know this, or that these two cottages, plus two more, belonged to an estate some distance away. They had their own entrance and their own pump- another example of the important items we should record when we find them. Meath along with Louth had it all- beautiful mud cottages rising from the very earth, stone cottages where that was the best material available, and marvelous estate buildings taken from English pattern books but built by local men, squeezing an Irish shape into an English cottage exterior, beautiful indeed.

There are good signs around us these days, like the twentieth century cottages nearby where young people have lovingly kept the old structure and added on sympathetically, or made a new little garden with older iron gates. All with little help from grants, or appreciation that is not merely paying lip service to the latest in “historical” trends. These stand however, amongst the never ending blitz of huge, inappropriate houses, of destroyed fields and verges. And this is where the members of Meath and Louth An Taisce will be never more valuable than now.

So as we have so much time and a certain amount of ground in which to wander, Meath An Taisce are setting up another photography competition. Many of you will remember our “Black Spots” competition from long ago and the more recent one, the 'Cottages of Louth and Meath' . Well, in this one we are asking you to photograph any, and I mean any, interesting vernacular feature that you will encounter in your walks.

This is the best ever time to record our special Meath and Louth heritage. It need not be big or impressive, just a setting down of the things that have forged the fabric of our beloved county. You will be surprised at what you will find!

Architectural historian Kevin Mulligan and professional photographer Joseph Carr will be the independent judges.

Jean Carr Chairperson- Meath Association

Click here for all the competition details.

Photo by Margaret Monaghan