A byre dwelling is a cottage that is shared with animals. This would have been the case where the occupants had few animals thus making them a valuable asset. They were usually built on a slope so the animals effluent would drain away from the living accomodations. See Cottage History


‘a small house, typically one in the country’ (Oxford). While this is normally the case, cottages are also found in cities, built by industrialists for their employees – Railway cottages are probably the most popular example of this.  There is some controversy about the use of the term for Irish vernacular houses as the term Cottier was never widely used. See Cottage History


‘Clachán’ – A cluster of cottages forming a farming collective. Dwellers farmed the surrounding land which was split up according to a system referred to as the Rundel System – scattered plots of good, medium and bad land. Mountainous land was allocated in soums where inhabitants maintained grazing rights for a number of their animals. A similar system is still in place for grazing sheep on wild rocky terrain today.  See Cottage History

Haggart / Haggard

A wild piece of garden seperated from the main decorative garden, often located to the side of the property and used to hold animals temporarily when needed nearer the cottage, grow vegetables or to store bric-a-brac associated with the running of the farm. Purpose and location varies from cottage to cottage.


‘the floor or surround of a fireplace (often used as a symbol of domestic comfort).’ (Oxford) Often the central focus of the cottage providing heat, food and a stage for performance.  See Cottage History


An alcove built into the cottage walls close to the hearth where the elderly inhabitants of the dwelling slept for the warmth. The outshot would usually be curtained off from view.  See Cottage History


The process of bringing a dwelling up to modern standards. This may require altering the fabric of the dwelling to make it fit for a purpose including moving walls, extensions and altering window sizes.


The process of restoring a dwelling to its former state. Unless this is undertaken for historical purposes, restoration will normally be undertaken with renovation to bring the dwelling up to modern standards whilst retaining the original charachteristics and charm.

Rundale System

A system of jointly leasing land amongst dwellers of a Clachan.   The land was divided with each dweller maintaining disjointed farm of good, medium and bad plots and soums of grazing rights.  This system was most popular in western costal areas where dry stone walls were used to subdivide the plots.  The most famous example of this is the Ceide Fields in Co. Mayo.  See Cottage History


Scolbacha’ – A twisted length of hazel or sally branch used to secure the thatch to the roof. Also known as rods, spars or sways.


An allocated measurement of grazing rights for animals on mountainous land within a Clachán. (See Clachan above)


The use of reeds, straw or heather to roof a dwelling. Once the standard form of roofing, the evolution of more stable methods has seen thatching become more of an art form and a decorative addition to cottages and dwellings.


a one-tenth part of something, paid as a (usually) voluntary contribution or as a tax or levy, usually to support a religious organization. Today, tithes (or tithing) are normally voluntary and paid in cash, cheques, or stocks, whereas historically tithes could be paid in kind, such as agricultural products.  (Source Wikipedia)  The most notable incidence of this in Ireland is the Tithe Applotment Books of from 1823 to 1837.  See Discovering the age of your cottage.  See Cottage History


Icomos (International Council on Monuments and Sites) describe vernacular buildings as follows: Vernacular building is the traditional and natural way by which communities house themselves. It is a continuing process including necessary changes and continuous adaptation as a response to social and environmental constraints.

Wattle and Daub

A traditional method of building walls.  Wattle consisted of a lattice of wooden rods and twigs which was filled or ‘daubed’ with any combination of muddy clay, wet soil, sand, animal dung and staw.  Once the daub hardened, walls were formed.  See Cottage History

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