Wooden start: Could focus on timber frame homes ease housing crisis?

Our man Frank on why wooden houses could help ease the housing crisis; The need to utilise local walking amenities; Local dining options… and Kevin’s party!

We all know about the huge shortage of houses and accommodation all over the country and the resultant outrageous numbers of homeless people and families we have.

For a while now I have wondered why we aren’t putting up wooden structures to accommodate people, given that these are substantially cheaper than conventional housing.

I had sort of put it to the back of my mind until a reader from South Roscommon got in touch on the same subject, asking me to highlight what he thinks would be an obvious solution to the housing crisis.

As a result of his call, I got in touch with one of the suppliers of timber frame houses in the east of the country, and the proprietor told me that conventional, block-built houses are costing between two and a half and three times the cost of the timber frame ones. When I pushed him, he estimated that to be fully finished to a Ber A rating, with all groundworks done and the house fully completed, a four-bedroomed wooden structure would cost about €100k to €120k. As we all know, a four-bedroomed standard house, with the huge increase in the price of building products, is now costing at least €300k to €350k to build, so I can’t understand why we aren’t looking at the Scandinavian model, particularly the Swedish one, where timber houses are very popular.

My contact (the reader) reckoned that a combination of business interests – including banks, construction companies and politicians – are all united in their opposition to the provision of cheaper houses, as the banks want to be giving out large mortgages, the builders want to be building expensive houses, and the Government needs prices to stay high in order for them to gather in more revenue from the building sector.

Now I don’t know if he is right or wrong, but as I write this on Monday morning, I have an outstanding invite to go to see a lived-in four-bedroomed wooden house on the Eastern seaboard, and I will give you a full report in the next week or two.

In the meantime, it is my opinion that solving the housing problem could be done with a bit of enlightened thinking, and with the provision of wooden houses and the reconstruction of thousands of derelict structures around the country made a priority.


Walk this way!


As someone whose heart is kept in check by a load of stents and a newly-acquired pacemaker, I am advised by my consultant to be mindful of my diet (I more or less ignore that bit) and, more importantly, to walk as much as possible.

Last Sunday, when driving home from Guilka (see separate piece) I began to wonder why so many of us, me sadly included, walk on dark, dangerous country roads on winter nights. We are arguably taking our lives in our hands when we do so.

Now I am well aware that there are places where people have no alternative, but in our local area there really is no excuse. Here in Creggs we have a fully-lit, perfectly safe walkway all around four pitches at the rugby club. Glinsk and Fuerty both have safe off-road walks, as have Creggs GAA, and so there is no reason why any of us should be taking unnecessary chances as we try to keep up our step count.

And yet I am as guilty as anyone else. While I walk at the rugby club regularly enough, I also continue to walk up the lovely rural area that is Lenamarla. I wear my hi-viz jacket and, if it’s fully dark I always carry a torch, but the truth is that nowadays so many tractors, cars, vans and even trucks travel those narrow rural roads that there is danger lurking around every corner.

A friend of mine believes that if an area has a safe floodlit walk, it should be compulsory to use it and that people should be fined for walking on the public road. It would be impossible to enforce such a law, but at the same time anything that saves lives is surely worth looking at.

At a time when the number of pedestrians losing their lives on our roads is constantly rising, why don’t we all use the safe, floodlit walks that our local clubs have so thoughtfully provided?



local businesses


For a good while now I have been hearing nice things about local pubs, restaurants and hotels that are doing a great Sunday lunch trade – and indeed great Sunday lunches. The truth is that I never seemed to have the time to go to any of these popular places!

Joe Dolan’s in Fuerty, the Malt House in Mountbellew, and Jimmy Screene’s in Guilka (near Moylough) are among the many local establishments that have built up great reputations for top quality food, but most Sundays I would be going to a rugby or football match and therefore have no time to go anywhere else.

However, last Sunday I booked a table for two, for two o’clock, in Screene’s in Guilka. There were a huge number of families eating there, and, as always, the food was superb and the value was even better. As someone who hadn’t had Sunday lunch in a long, long time (if ever), I have now been so impressed that I intend to pay an occasional visit to some of the places that are within a reasonable distance. Please support these local establishments!


Get well soon, Fr Donal


Out here in Creggs at present we have a slight reversal of roles because normally we are asking our parish priest, Fr. Donal Morris, to pray for our sick and ask God to get them well again. Sadly Fr. Donal himself is a bit unwell, so let us all say a few prayers, wish him well and hope he is back amongst us as soon as possible. Get well soon, Fr. Donal!

And finally…


On Saturday of last week, Kevin Bradley celebrated a big birthday with a bit of a bash in Mikeen’s.

Kevin is the man who built Bradley’s ‘singing lounge’ in Creggs back in the 1970s, in doing so putting Creggs right at the top of the local entertainment scene. Singing pubs were all the rage at the time, and Bradley’s was definitely the very best of them all.

Huge crowds flocked to the popular venue, with the top acts in the country – like Brendan Grace, Joe Cuddy, Anna McGoldrick and Sonny Knowles – all gracing the stage in Bradley’s. Looking back now, they were almost unbelievable times.

So congrats and happy birthday Kevin – it was great to see so many friends and family at your ‘do’. Fair play to Joachim Dunne who supplied the music. It was a great night’s craic.

Kevin looks as well as he did all those years ago when he first arrived in Creggs, and I have no doubt there will be many more birthdays to be enjoyed in the future!