Traditional and Sustainable Mortars Symposium

From Past to Present: Mastering the Craft of Sustainable Mortars with Madigan Traditional Masonry



Event Goals

Our aim is for every participant, whether a professional in conservation or a homeowner interested in property care, to leave with up-to-date knowledge and practical skills in the use of traditional mortars.

A unique learning experience

The Traditional Mortar Symposium offers a unique two-day program tailored to meet the specific interests of our diverse audience. Set in the historic venues of Ennistymon, this event combines expert talks, practical demonstrations, and engaging Q&A sessions focused on the use of traditional and sustainable mortars. 

Both days follow the same schedule, while the focus of Friday is aimed at conservation professionals and Saturday is tailored for homeowners. 


Programme


Friday 26th April: Conservation Professionals Day

 Friday Focus: Aimed specifically at conservation professionals and craftspeople, this day is designed to deepen understanding of traditional mortars' role in heritage conservation, offering insights into the latest research, techniques, and best practices.

Saturday 27th April: Homeowners Day

Focus: Saturday is dedicated to empowering homeowners and craftspeople with the knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions regarding the use of traditional and sustainable mortars in the maintenance and conservation of their properties. 

Talks and demonstrations are tailored to the interests and needs of homeowners looking to understand more about traditional mortars for their property's care.

Morning Sessions at The Falls Hotel, The Orchard Room

Both days Friday and Saturday

9:15 AM: Registration

9:30 AM: Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:40 AM: David Wiggins - "Lime Mortar: An Engineer’s Perspective"

10:20 AM: Nigel Copsey - "Traditional Hot-Mixed Lime Mortars"

11:00 AM: Tea/Coffee Break

11:20 AM: Lisa Edden - "35 Years of Lime Mortar Specification"

12:00 PM: Damian Condon - "Traditional Hot Mixed Lime Rendering"

12:30 PM: Eóin Madigan - "Traditional Lime Mortars for Old House Repairs"

1:00 PM: Light Lunch

Afternoon at The Courthouse Gallery Ennistymon  

Both days Friday and Saturday

2:00 - 4:00 PM: Demonstrations in Traditional Lime Mortar Mixing and Application

Practical demonstrations continue, with a focus on applications relevant to homeowners, including basic techniques for mixing, pointing, and plastering with traditional lime mortars.  


Topics

Traditional Mortars and Their Application

This series of talks and demonstrations, featuring experts like Nigel Copsey and Eóin Madigan, covers the history, science, and craft of traditional lime mortars. Attendees will gain hands-on experience and up-to-date knowledge on the use of sustainable mortars in conservation work.


For his seminar "Traditional Lime Mortars for Old House Repairs" Eoin will talk and demonstrate on the traditional ways of making lime mortars in Ireland. He will explain the "like for like" approach  in conservation and how to specify lime mortars for the maintenance and repair of solid wall structures. Eoin will focus on the use of Irish quicklime to make the full range of mortars used to conserve and repair our built heritage.


Traditional Hot-Mixed Lime Mortars

Join Nigel Copsey to learn about traditional hot-mixed lime mortars with additions of hair for plastering and pointing, its history, context, science and craft practice.


Lime Mortar: An Engineer’s Perspective by David Wiggins

Explore the intersection of engineering and conservation with David Wiggins. This session delves into the technical aspects of using lime mortars in historic masonry, informed by David's extensive research and practical experience.


35 Years of Lime Mortar Specification by Lisa Edden

Join Lisa Edden on a journey through the development of lime mortar specification over the past 35 years. Culminating in a discussion on contemporary best practices, this lecture offers invaluable insights for professionals involved in the care of historic structures.


Booking Information

Book Your Place at the Traditional Mortar Symposium

Due to the limited availability and high interest, we encourage early booking to secure your spot. Choose between two dates: Friday, the 26th, or Saturday, the 27th of April. Each day has a different focus and can be booked below.

Saturday Tickets

Saturday is dedicated to empowering homeowners with the knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions regarding the use of traditional and sustainable mortars in the maintenance and conservation of their properties. 

Book

Friday Tickets

Aimed specifically at conservation professionals, this day is designed to deepen understanding of traditional mortars' role in heritage conservation, offering insights into the latest research, techniques, and best practices.

Book

Our Masonry Experts




David Wiggins 

David Wiggins brings an engineering rigor to the conservation of historic masonry. As a CARE-accredited engineer, his work spans technical conservation research to practical repair projects. David's mission  ‘To give a better standard of structural engineering, fit for the historic environment we're working in’ highlights a curiosity-driven approach to understanding and intervening in historic structures, ensuring respectful and justified conservation practices.

“I love finding out how stuff works. This nagging curiosity is the driving force behind why I became an engineer. My career has allowed me to marry this up with a subject matter that I’m passionate about – old buildings. I believe that by intervening in a historic structure, you become part of that physical history. That intervention has to be justified - by first getting to grips with how the thing works in the first place”


Nigel Copsey

Beginning his career as a dry-stone waller in Cornwall, Nigel Copsey has evolved into a renowned conservator and advocate for traditional mortars.  Having trained as a stonemason and carver at Weymouth College after 1989, he worked in the conservation industry across England and in Vermont, USA, and Granada, Andalusia.

 He has consulted and worked on a wide range of vernacular and high-status buildings in North Yorkshire, designing and executing major repair projects. Nigel is a Professionally Accredited Conservator-Restorer and a leading advocate for the use of hot mixed lime and traditional earth-lime mortars. He has led training and education in traditional skills globally and consults on historic building projects in the UK and internationally.

With extensive experience across the UK and internationally, Nigel's work emphasizes the importance of traditional materials in the care and repair of old buildings. His publications and research contributions have made him a pivotal voice in the field.  Nigel remains hands-on in his craft, embodying a deep commitment to traditional materials and methods.

Eóin Madigan

A sixth-generation stone mason from the Burren region of Co. Clare, Eóin Madigan carries forward a 200-year family legacy in traditional masonry. 

With a deep commitment to conserving Ireland's built heritage, Eóin has become a leading figure in the use of traditional and sustainable mortars. His journey includes significant training under master craftsman, Tom Little in Tralee, Co. Kerry and active roles in The Buildings Limes Forum Ireland, gaining knowledge and love for historic mortars under master craftsman Pat McAfee. 

Eóin was a technical panel committee member of both The Building Limes Forum Ireland and UK from 2018-2023 and is a 2014 William Morris Craft Fellow of The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB UK), as well as a co-founding member of SPAB Ireland. He travels across Ireland upskilling craftspeople and conservation professionals in traditional mortars.   

Lisa Edden

Lisa Edden, a Consulting Structural Engineer and Associate Director at CORA Consulting Engineers, has mapped the last 35 years of lime mortar specification through her career in the care of historic structures. She holds a Structural Engineer BEng CEng MIStructE MIEI qualification and has culminated her experience in a current perspective on specifying lime mortar today.


Damien Condon

Damien is a sixth-generation plasterer and stonemason with over 35 years’ experience  including 15 in building conservation.

From 2007 – 2009 he studied at The Scottish Lime Centre, Edinburgh where he was awarded C1 & C2 Conservation Masonry. From 2009- 2013 he studied in West Dean College, Sussex where he successfully completed a Professional Development Diploma in Historic Building Conservation & Repair.

Damien is the Vice Chair of the Building Limes Forum Ireland and provides teaching and training nationwide for the BLFI & SPAB. Recently Damien spent a week under the expert guidance of Philip Gaches in the UK, learning the history and practicing the art of Elizabethan Plasterwork. Some notable projects Damien has worked on include: The Cashel Palace Hotel, Co. Tipperary, Westport House Co. Mayo, and various other estates, cathedrals and churches throughout the country.




The Location

About the Falls Hotel

Nestled in the lush, wooded vale beside the cascading waters of the River Inagh, the Falls Hotel & Spa in Ennistymon stands as a testament to centuries of history and heritage. This distinctive establishment not only offers modern comforts and amenities but also houses within its walls the legacy of a late medieval castle and an eighteenth-century mansion, encapsulating over four and a half centuries of Irish history.

The hotel's origins trace back to the O’Brien and MacNamara clans, with its site once occupied by a castle that was the middle of three in the area, reflecting its strategic importance and historical significance. In 1764, the transformation began with the construction of Ennistymon House, a Georgian-style mansion that embraced the architectural elegance of its era, featuring large sash windows, fine panelling, and rococo decoration.

By 1936, the property had evolved into the public space it is today, known as the Falls Hotel & Spa. It has since become a beloved landmark, offering guests a unique blend of historical charm and contemporary luxury. The hotel's commitment to preserving its rich past, while providing a serene and welcoming environment for visitors, makes it an ideal venue for gatherings that seek to bridge the gap between history and modernity.

The Falls Hotel & Spa is more than just a place to stay; it's a journey through time, offering guests an immersive experience in Ireland's cultural and natural beauty. Whether you're attending the Traditional Mortar Symposium or exploring the enchanting landscapes of County Clare, the Falls Hotel provides the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable visit.

 

About the Courthouse Gallery and Studios

Located in the heart of Ennistymon, Co. Clare, The Courthouse Gallery & Studios is an integral part of the area’s cultural life, housed in a historic Georgian courthouse building dating from 1790. This building, once at risk of demolition, was preserved and transformed into a vibrant hub for the arts, thanks to the efforts of The Old Ennistymon Society and support from both the Arts Council and local government.

Architectural Significance: The Courthouse Gallery & Studios is a detached five-bay single-storey building, notable for its breakfront end bays and architectural integrity. The structure features a hipped artificial slate roof, rendered chimney stacks, and dressed rubble stone walls. Its façade is punctuated by recessed blind arches with cut-stone and red brick voussoirs, showcasing the craftsmanship of the era. The building's original entrance, now altered, was likely centered, leading to interiors that boast timber matchboard double leaf doors with a distinctive cobweb fanlight. Round-headed window openings with timber sliding sash windows and a square-headed opening with red brick dressings to the recessed entrance further accentuate its Georgian heritage. Wrought-iron railings set on a cut-stone plinth encircle the property, adding to its historic charm.

Following a thoughtful conversion by architect John O’Reilly, the Courthouse retains much of its original fabric, windows, and fanlight, serving as a prime example of the successful reuse of a Georgian municipal building for contemporary art space. It comprises four artists' studios, a workshop space, and two gallery spaces, managed with the highest standards to foster an inclusive environment for artists, visitors, and the community.

The Courthouse Gallery & Studios not only hosts a year-round program of exhibitions but also workshops, talks, seminars, and classes, alongside events in music, performance, poetry readings, dance, and lectures on history, archaeology, and folklore. This programming, in conjunction with The North Clare Heritage Society, attracts a diverse audience, making the gallery a cultural community hub.

Overseen by a voluntary management board and run by an enthusiastic team of professionals and volunteers, The Courthouse Gallery & Studios continues to support artists, develop working relationships with communities of interest, and contribute significantly to the cultural and tourism initiatives of Ennistymon.


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