Memories of an Irish thatched cottage

I watched the 2013 Irish short entry for the Sundance film festival and it brought me back to Sunday afternoons when I was about eight or nine years old. My parents visited their friend, a widow living with her elderly aunt, in a thatched cottage in a place called Tiernascragh in East Galway, the county not the city.

Fireside cottage

Open fire in an Irish cottage. Picture via seahorseholidays.ie

I am so glad I have this memory. A beautiful thatched cottage, an open fire, and the furniture, painted by the woman, had a charm that I have never seen since.

Nonie and Paco Madden of Tiernascragh with my parents, Michael and Margaret Horrigan

Nonie and Paco Madden of Tiernascragh with my parents, Michael and Margaret Horrigan, and my twin sister Margaret standing, I am sitting on Nonie’s lap.

The distinct smell of the interior of the cottage was typical of thatched homes. It wasn’t unpleasant, but earthy and natural. Despite having no central heating, the kitchen was always warm and inviting. There was always plenty of food, and a generous hostess, lots of chat and laughter.

Open half door of an Irish cottage. Picture taken in Kileel, Co. Down by Dev b via Flickr

Open half door of an Irish cottage. Picture taken in Kileel, Co. Down by Dev b via Flickr

In the summer, the half-door remained open, keeping roaming farmyard animals out,  allowing the smells of the garden across the way to drift in. The melding scents of roses, foxgloves and parsley, all wafted through, even on the soft days. In the summer the fire was always ablaze, it was how kettles were boiled for making tea, an hourly ritual, and strictly adhered to.

Irish Thatched Cottage on Lough Eske, Donegal, Ireland

Irish Thatched Cottage on Lough Eske, Donegal, Ireland
flickriver.com

On the Ireland Reaching Out Tiernascragh, County Galway page a Vimeo video, The Tiernascragh Heritage Project, re-enacts essays written by school children in 1937 in the Tiernascragh school.Traditions practiced on Halloween, Twelve Night and old Irish sayings, some were practiced in my own home in the seventies, others were not, are discussed.

I wonder how many of these older traditions are still celebrated today? It makes me think how quickly things changed in Ireland. In 77 years, only one lifetime, many of these older traditions are no longer in existence, and it’s a bit sad really. But that’s progress, or is it? I suppose to an eight or nine-year old girl, without a care in the world, the world seemed rosy and bright, even on a soft day.

Vimeo Video about Tiernascragh.

If you’d like to watch the Sundance Irish short entry, Irish Folk Furniture, you’ll find it below.

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2 thoughts on “Memories of an Irish thatched cottage

  1. I love reading verse like this. It makes me feel like I was actually there and/or I want to go there right away. I do long for a nice trip to a remote rural area and should do something before those places are all gone. I agree, Loretto, it is a shame places like this are disappearing. I don’t consider it progress at all.

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