Bed time at the Irish Cottage

For most cottage inhabitants, a stationary bed was a pure luxury that they wouldn’t even think to dream of. Sleeping arrangements were a necessity to be accommodated rather than a luxury to be enjoyed. Personally I just do not know what I would do without my comfy bed and have all kinds of added extras to increase the comfort levels from memory foam mattresses to electric blankets. How would I have survived back in the day… In the beginning… Early and poorer cottage dwellers simply slept on thick woven straw mats by the hearth to take advantage of the dying heat. In the case of Byre cottages the inhabitants would sleep closely with the animals. The mat’s were then rolled away by day to make room for daily life – not too unlike modern beach mats. The next step up was to low divan style beds where a mattress fashioned out of old woven fabric or meal sacks and stuffed with straw or bog cotton would was laid directly upon the straw mat. Wealthier and poultry farmers sometimes had mattresses stuffed with goose feathers – this would have been an exceptionally valuable asset in a household and would have been willed down through generations. Feather mattresses, pillows and even perhaps the bed would sometimes also form part of a daughter’s dowry or ‘bottom drawer’. Thorough Beds & Truckle Beds In areas prone to flooding these mattresses were lifted off the ground on a wooden base with low wooden header and footer boards to keep the mattress dry. These were known as thorough beds and could sleep the entire family...