Driving the Traditional Lime Company – which in 1997 became the first Irish company to sell natural hydraulic limes commercially – is founder Edward Byrne’s innate love of and respect for old buildings, a genuine passion which led to the Carlow company’s emergence as an industry-leading provider of pure natural hydraulic limes and mortars, natural paints and washes as well as expert consultation services to the conservation and restoration sector.
From its base in County Carlow, Traditional Lime Company supplies the conservation, restoration and ecological building sectors with a range of lime putties, ready mixed mortars, Saint-Astier hydraulic lime, hair and fibres, pozzolans, riven and sawn lath and wattle, ochres, pigments, washes and paints. Founder Edward Byrne has been a preeminent consultant on traditional building materials and methods in Ireland for more than 40 years.
Formerly a marine engineer who worked on ships in the North Sea performing hydrographic and seismic surveys, Edward’s love of old buildings led to him salvaging materials and supplying them to traditional buildings undergoing renovation. When he accepted an agency to import Saint-Astier Natural Hydraulic Limes into Ireland, the Traditional Lime Company was born.
Since then, the Traditional Lime Company has been involved in the restoration of some of Ireland’s most iconic buildings, consulting on conservation as well as supplying materials to landmark buildings such as Kylemore Abbey. Kilcoe Castle, Sigginstown Castle, Muckross House and Ardfert Cathedral, to namedrop just a handful.
The Traditional Lime Company supply a wide range of traditional materials and tools for use with their lime products along with providing a variety of general-purpose traditional building materials. They have also been involved in numerous new building projects where the use of eco methods and materials were a priority. Straw bale houses, hemp builds and energy efficient projects have all been completed with advice and materials from the Traditional Lime Company.
Lime mortars are highly flexible and have excellent vapour exchange properties. These factors are prerequisites for the long-term survival of restored buildings.
As well as being a traditional building material, lime is in many respects a superior one as it is flexible, breathes and allows both air and water to pass through its pores. Although hydraulic lime is perfect for Irish conditions, there is concerning momentum behind promotion of the hot lime movement in Great Britain, who gave up making hydraulic lime in the 1970s.
As Edward – who was the first person to complete a Building Conservation Masterclass in lime mortars with English Heritage under John Ashurst at West Dean College, Sussex (and has since completed the full range of Masterclasses in building, timber, plaster and stone conservation from the same institution) – intimates: one of the problems with lime is that people will believe just about anything except the science.
And another real issue of concern within the conservation and restoration sector is that consultants and architects occasionally don’t have the specialist knowledge or expertise of materials and their compatibility with historic fabric.
Edward has promised for years that if somebody can show him a better quality lime than Saint-Astier, that he’ll gladly give it to them for free. The fact that nobody has yet taken him up on this offer speaks for itself.
Saint-Astier is the only producer of Natural Hydraulic Limes providing high quality constant performance and expertise for conservation and renovation.
Saint-Astier Natural Hydraulic Limes and derivative products have been produced by the same French families since 1851. Imparting plasticity, elasticity, strength, low shrinkage and early frost resistance to a mortar, Saint-Astier products are derivatives of pure limestone / silica deposits which are unique to Western France.
Saint-Astier is an independent, family-owned enterprise producing Natural Hydraulic Limes of excellence for over four generations. It has since the beginning used its own quarry with a limestone deposit of over 350 hectares – an underground deposit, known as the ‘Cathedral of Limestone’, and which even at a depth of 200 meters, assures its constant and unique mineralogical quality.
The degree to which Saint-Astier products enable mortar to be customised for each job makes them excellent for all types of work, including new build, restoration and conservation projects not just here in Ireland but all over the world.
Passionate about the use of the correct materials and methods in the conservation and restoration building markets, Edward Byrne’s wealth of knowledge means his advice is much sought-after from all corners of the country and beyond when it comes to conservation, restoration and environmental building and repair. For example, he has been called to give advice all over the continent in his capacity as the NSAI’s representative on the Revision of Building Lime Standards Europe: EN-495.
As well as providing a full technical back-up service for their extensive range of value-added lime products, the Traditional Lime Company – who still stock a wide variety of reclaimed and traditional materials for use in conservation and restoration projects – provide a consultancy service on all aspects of building conservation and restoration.
This consultancy service covers materials, methods and historic design, and includes training both on-site and at its purpose-built training centre in Tullow. Ardbracken House in Meath is just one of many stunning conservation projects that has enlisted Edward Byrne as a consultant.
Traditional Lime Company Ltd.,
Tel: 059 9151750
Fax: 059 9152113
Email: [email protected]
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, January 2024, Vol 10 No 1