The Irish Cottage
The Irish cottages date back to before 1700. Traditional Irish Cottages were just that – traditional. They were built using local stone and the skills of local people.Characteristics of the Irish Cottage
Walls 600mm in depth
Half door – to keep children in and animals out!
Windows at loft level, if at all
One room – later this was extended as and when people prospered.
The labourers’ cottage. This was the most basic one-roomed structure. It was built as big as the longest length of wood they had for the roof!
Floor of compacted mud or peat
Furniture: a pallet bed, a falling table and a hanging dresser
Hearth: initial at the centre of the room, later moved to gable wall
As the cottage dweller prospered, they could afford materials to add a room to either end of the original cottage. Lofts were often added above the new rooms, accessible by a ladder in the central room, the living room.
This was when the cottage dweller owned animals and needed to protect them. Livestock was extremely valuable and had to be treated accordingly. The floors would slope downwards at one end – this is where the animals were kept. The sloping floor kept the animals effluent flowing downwards, away from the family. Many people added a loft space above the animals for themselves to live.
This is an addition or extension to the existing dwelling. It was a small room added to the outside of the living space, similar to a porch or utility room. This would become a kitchen or bathroom as modern convenience became the norm.
An outshot is a nook beside or behind the hearth. The elder generation slept in the outshot for warmth. A curtain would have concealed the outshot from the living space.
-Build lengthwise for luck.
-Door must face south, to capture any of the sun to bring heat into the cottage.
-Half-door had many uses: keep children inside, to keep animals out, allow light and air in to prevent damp, muggy conditions, to be leaned on while smoking and having a chat with your neighbours.
-The hearth is the heart of the home. The expressions ‘Home is where the heart is’ and ‘There is no place like home’ were coined from this traditional Irish saying:
‘There is no fireplace like your own fireplace’;- Níl aon tintéan mar do thintéan féin! (kneel 'a' 'n' teen thawn mawr the teen thawn faye 'n')
- Caitriona Hurley