Friday 24 March 2017

The Irish Cottage

In 1840, 40% of Irish families lived in one room thatched cottages.  Here are ten things you may not know about the Irish cottage.

1.  A fireplace or hearth, built of stone, was located in the middle of the house, often with a bedroom on either end.

2.  Roofs were usually constructed of coupled rafters stuffed with turf for insulation and thatched to prevent leaking water.

3.  A primary source of timber was wood washed ashore from wrecked ships.

4.  For those with more money, there was the thatched mansion, a two story cottage.  The Old Farm Cottage in Kilkenny is one example.

5.  The half door had three purposes:  it kept the children in and the animals out; it permitted light and air to circulate in the damp and dusty cottage; it served as a prop to lean on while smoking a pipe.

6.  The Irish cottage was filled with a couple, their six or seven children, a pig and a dresser of hens or chickens.

7.  Irish cottages often had two doors, one entrance for the mother in law, the other for the daughter in law.

8.  Irish cottages usually had small windows, limited in number.  The size was to keep the heat in, the number to prevent being taxed for having more than six windows, a law enforced between 1799 and 1851.

9.  Water was supplied by a well, located by a local diviner with a divining rod.

10.  The "good room" sometimes added on to cottages at a later date, was the parlour, reserved for guests like priests or teachers.

Irish Thatch Roof Cottage

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