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Farmsteads & Domestic Buildings

Farmhouse A

Derelict farmhouse

The calendar shows November 1987 and I suspect this traditional farmhouse has had no occupants since that date. Built to a two up two down design with additional outbuildings this old house now suffers from years of neglect  but was obviously once a cherished home. Painted with cream and blue paint work the huge old fireplace in the kitchen is now full of soot and twigs; rusted implements still hang on the racks and personal bits and pieces scatter on the floor. The stairs have long since gone. A long dead Pope gazes down from the walls, the Infant of Prague offers his protection and rosary beads hang from a hook by the window. A sewing machine, boxes of pills, a Christmas list, some cracked LPs, all offer a glimpse into a past life.

Small freeholding

During the 19C labourers in rural areas usually lived in very basic one or two roomed cabins, rented from local farmers. The Land Acts of 1883 transformed the situation by  introducing public housing programmes in rural areas, allowing local authorities to build homes for landless labourers. By 1921 over 50,000 new homes had been built. This one is fairly typical - a small, three bay building, two main rooms and a kitchen extension with an attic storey above. The entrance is walled and a neat little path leads to the front door. The house is situated on an acre of land with various outbuildings allowing for some self sufficiency. Sadly it is currently empty.

Tadg Carthy's

Restored cabin

This single room cabin has recently been restored as authentically as possible by local people.The roof has been thatched with rushes gathered from bogs near to the site, the stone walls patched where necessary and two new cottage doors made, one on the east and one on the west side. Whilst restoring the house the original flagstones of the floor were uncovered and outside a small well was also discovered, the water fresh and clear. There was no chimney but an open hearth built against the north wall, smoke blowing through the half doors and up through the thatch. Inside oil lamps and candles provided extra light. A wooden ladder leads up to a sleeping loft.

This cabin is one of several that make up the clachán (small group of buildings) known as the Crimea (pronounced crim-ay). See Gortavallig for the full story. These simple homesteads were lived in until the 1950s and this restoration was carried out as a100th birthday gift for one of the last occupants of these buildings, Tadg Carthy.

Nearby site: Gortavallig Copper mines

Cahergal: an cathair gheal, white fort
Park at Cahergal and follow the Sheep's Head Way in a westerly direction. You can see the cabin from the car park.
V 766 378

This sympathetic restoration makes it possible to imagine what life must have been like in the countless little ruined cabins that litter the Irish countryside and make the not so distant past seem suddenly very close and very real. Life must have been tough but the thick walls, open fire,oil lamps and candles, utensils, and the bed platform show that comforts were available. Fresh water was freely available from the well; a few animals may have been kept in the small byre; potatoes and other vegetables grown in little fields whose walls are still visible. The families also had access to commonage on the mountains, as well as being able to cut turf for fires.

Old cottage, Kilcrohane

This old cabin in Kilcrohane has been sympathetically restored. It was until recently covered in brambles and undergrowth and is situated next to the river in the heart of the village.  It is typical of early vernacular style - built with local stone, single storeyed, small windows and central entrance door. The chimney stack, and slate roof are later additions.

Farmhouse D

This farm has its own boreen approached through some rusting gates. It is in the most stupendous and private site looking out across commonage.  Once it must have been a comfortable and prosperous house. It is on an elevated position facing south complete with a mini avenue of trees, planted with daffodils. The fine sash windows still contain large panes of greenish glass. The front door is gone but the panelled back door is a wonderful chalky arsenic green.Inside it is laid out in a traditional manner with central staircase, two rooms below and two rooms above. The kitchen contains a huge open fireplace complete with little niche to keep things dry; the best room still has its attractive fireplace withdecorative metal grate. The floors are of earth, the flagstones having long since disappeared. The stairs still remain, complete with scrap of brown flowery lino, but are too rickety to ascend. Upstairs the two bedrooms are panelled in tongue and groove.  No furniture remains but odds and ends are still there - a rusty biscuit tin on the mantelpiece, a fine collection of boots under the stairs, the odd pot. Layers of paint reveal vibrant colours schemes and are now works of art in themselves. Outside numerous outhouses remain - an old furze cutter and large cartwheel moulder.

Farmhouse C

A remote and scenic little farm that fits so well into its surroundings. It is south facing and built snugly into the hillside. It was probably originally a single storey building, sturdily constructed out of stone and lime rendered. The front door and back door are aligned and there are two south facing windows, one ruined, and one in the east wall, also ruined.  There's also a tiny window above the front door and two smaller second floor windows. At some point it looks as though an extra half storey was added and maybe this was when the huge corbelled fireplace hood in the living area was extended and remodelled - a look up the chimney reveals that this hood was a later addition, the original hood being possibly made of mud. The small upstairs fireplace with its attractive lintel was probably put in at the same time. The original stairs were of a simple ladder variety. The stone flags on the floor have disappeared but traces of blue distemper cling to the walls. This seems to be a traditional colour for kitchens, suggestions being that the old blue bags used for washing were also added to the paint to give this distinctive colour. A small outshot survives on the north wall, probably the dairy. Other ruined outbuildings are nearby, now pretty much covered in undergrowth, and fresh water runs very close to the door.

A talk with the landowner revealed more interesting information. The cottage was last lived in during the 1950s, the last occupiers being an elderly brother and sister. There is also a story that someone fell down the stairs and died, the bloodstains still being evident!

Farmhouse B

This fascinating old farmhouse has since disappeared, razed to the ground and a new building put in its footstep. This little house oozed charm and was especially notable as it still contained so many bits and pieces inside - furniture, ornaments, pots, hats, saints.

It was laid out in traditional pattern with two main downstairs rooms, and a scullery/small room off to the back, plus porch to the front. The roof was slated and the windows sashed. The stairs were too rickety to venture up but I imagine there were two further bedrooms upstairs.

The kitchen had a large fireplace complete with grate; the brick surround painted a lively red. On the mantelpiece statues of some household saints still remained - St Anthony, St Theresa and St Anthony as a boy. A little wooden cupboard to the right and  larger open cupboard to the left. the latter still full of crockery. The parlour contained a smarter metal grate but the wooden surround had gone, wooden shutters and the remains of a one handsome circular table were still in situ. The little scullery behind the kitchen held an iron bedstead and the remains of a posh tea service. A little woodburner gave heat.

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