Tag Archives: Dawson Stelfox

Bellaghy Historical Society – November 2009

Another first for Dawson Stelfox! The first man from Ireland to conquer Mt.
Everest {1993} stood in Bellaghy for the first time Tuesday last, November
10th, to address the Bellaghy Historical Society on vernacular architecture.
An architect and conservationalist, Mr. Stelfox spoke on the relationship
between people and their environment and how their dwellings are a
response to that relationship.
He showed slides of mud walls and thatched roofs of Nepalese housing,
reflecting the steep slopes of the paddy fields.
Rural homesteads in Ireland were built in the shelter of hills from the SW
winds. Trees were planted to provide shelter from the same SW winds.They
were set at right angles to slopes to allow for drainage of water down hill.
Houses were one room deep because of the size of roof timbers.
In1600s Ireland, extended family members built their houses in close
proximity to their family group-these dwellings are known as clachans.Most
have been replaced by single homesteads. Mr. Stelfox showed slides of
Hannaʼs Close in the Mourne Mts., one such clachan which has been
restored by a community development group in Kilkeel, Co. Down. It is
possible to retain the external vernacular features, keeping the relationship of
the building with the landscape, while having the comfort of all mod cons
within the house!
The Natural Stone Database for N.I. is a website set up to show the identity
of stone types and stone sources and to encourage the re-opening of local
stone quarries. What a pity granite was recently imported from China and not
mined in the Mournes for new street paving in Newcastle, Co. Down.
However, locally sourced basalt will,Mr. Stelfox assured us, be used on the
facade of the new visitors centre at the Giantʼs Causeway.
We were delighted with Dawson Stelfoxʼs visit to Bellaghy: his talk was most
interesting and informative and the slides fascinating!