Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Folk Park - Part Two

From the splendours of the castle we are now back to the homes of ordinary people, this is the Mountain Farmhouse from the upland Sliabh Luachra district where the counties of Cork,Kerry and Limerick meet. I can't pronounce the name of the district but I love to see as well as hear the Gaelic language. The family who lived here would have had about half a dozen cows and their calves along with chickens and pigs. They would also have earned extra income from turf cutting the turf being sold in the local town.

The Shannon Farmhouse was the first house to be reconstructed at the Folk Park, it once stood on the site which is now the main runway of Shannon Airport.

This was quite a good sized farm with twelve dairy cows, several acres under cultivation and around 20 acres of water meadow as well. The farmhouse had a parlour which was kept strictly for special occasions such as weddings and funerals or a visit from the parish priest. There's a lace tablecloth and nice china and that looks suspiciously like a phonograph in the corner under the painting of a rather splendid bearded gentleman.

Also in the corner is this 'press bed' - it folded up inside the cupboard and when the doors were closed it looked just like a sideboard. It would have been used as a spare bed.

A very different life style here - this is the Bothan Scoir (imagine little marks over the a in Bothan and o in Scoir!) from Limerick. It would have belonged to a poor landless labourer who rented a small piece of ground, about half an acre, from the farmer. The rent was paid off in kind by the labourer working about 80 days a year on the farm.

There was just a single room with a rammed clay floor and the bare minimum of simple furniture. This is the kitchen end with just a couple of small chairs and a rough table.

At the other end of the room is the bed often just a mattress on a pile of rushes. It must have been a very spartan life especially in the winter.

This is The Golden Vale Farmhouse also from Limerick but belonging to a prosperous farming family. No interior shots here as there were lots of people around.

This is the Village Street with the Doctor's house at the bottom (not in the photo) and a variety of typical village shops including a drapers, a printers, a hardware store and a post office. Right at the top of the street is MacNamara's licensed hotel which offered accommodation for commercial travellers and anyone else who needed a room as well as being a bar.

This would be where a lot of the locals would go - the little pub where there would almost certainly be music as well as booze and everyone would know each other. I've been in an Irish pub in Ennis where people just wandered in with a fiddle or pipes and sat down and started playing. The music is one of the best things about Ireland.

There were a few animals here and there, mostly hens but there were also a few Jacob sheep and I couldn't resist this little lamb and its companions.

I hope you are managing to hang in there - this is rather a long post I'm afraid! We're moving on to the North Clare farmhouse, this comes from the Burren region of County Clare where the landscape appears at first glance to consist entirely of bare rock. Pretty much everything there is made of the rock including the walls and roof of the farmhouse and the field boundary walls.

Bunratty House was closed but just off the Walled Garden(wrong time of year for photos) was the gardener's Bothy which was used for storing tools and as a potting shed. It looks as though this was where they could make a hot drink and eat their midday meal too, it must have been rather cozy when the fire was lit and the door closed:) I think was my favourite of all the places I saw.

As well as houses there are other reconstructed buildings including two corn mills. This one is a Horizontal Mill from County Cork.

The waterwheel was positioned horizontally in the flow of the water and was attached to the upper millstone by the stout wooden drive shaft.

The grain was fed into the wooden hopper to be ground between the two millstones below.

Sacks of grain waiting for the miller - though whether this mill ever does work I'm not sure. It would certainly require a good deal more water to turn the wheel than was evident when I was there.

The other mill is a Vertical Mill with an undershot wheel - that means that the water hits the blades at the bottom of the wheel and it's the oldest type of waterwheel. They need a substantial volume of fast moving water to work them so are usually only found on large rivers.

The final house is a Byre Dwelling which is house shared by a family and their cows - a very common thing at one time. This came from County Mayo where it's extremely windy so this too would have had the thatch tied firmly down with ropes weighted by stones although it doesn't seem to have been done here.

Here we have the family's half of the house, behind the blue curtains is an alcove containing a bed. Just look at the wonderful stoneware jug and jar by the fire - I'd have sneaked those out under my coat if I could have got away with it:)

This is the other end of the house where the cows lived - a drain ran across the floor dividing the two halves of the house. It sounds awful doesn't it? But imagine a bitter winter's night with a galeforce wind howling in off the Atlantic and think how much extra warmth you would get from cows - maybe not so bad after all:)

I love seeing haystacks standing on staddle stones and I especially like the round ones. The stones have planks laid across them as a base for the stack and this way it is kept dry and safe from the ravages of rats and mice.

The finale!! Aren't they just gorgeous? Meet Fionn and Grainne the two Irish Wolfhounds who live in the Folk Park. Wolfhounds are an incredibly ancient breed and have been used as hunting dogs in Ireland from at least the 5th century and probably long before that.
Both dogs are really friendly but especially Fionn, the grey one, who is a leaner - and being leaned against by a dog who is pretty much shoulder high to you is something you notice:)


Anonymous said...

Wondeful pictures and info. I love to visit parcs like that too.
The wolfhounds look so sweet. I love wolfhounds, but they are a little too big for my little home ; )
Have a great day.

WOL said...

Brilliant posts! I always love your posts on "historical" places. How I wish I could have been there with you. I long to visit Ireland, but it's highly unlikely I ever will except vicariously. Wolfhounds! I'd love to have one too, but I think my cats might have something to say about that! -- and I don't think my budget could stand having to feed one. . .

Rosie said...

As with your last post, Rowan so much fascinating information and wonderful photos. It reminds me so much of St Fagan's Welsh Heritage Museum, although it is years since I visited there so it could have changed. I love the creamy-yellow cottage in your first photo also the haystacks on saddle stones and the splendid wolfhounds:)

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

It's clearly a fascinating collection of buildings and ways of life. It strikes me, though, that it all looks a bit too neat and stylish. The people who originally lived and worked in these places must have gone through pretty hard times.

Diane said...

It all looks so very well done. xxxx

Clara said...

Hi Rowan!
I love seeing old buildings. That was an interesting bed that folded up inside of the cabinet. What a great idea. Thank you for an interesting post tour.

Sandies' Patch said...

Lovely post.
Greyhounds are great 'Leaners' too, my Sister has 2.


Sandie xx

Kentish Keg-Meg said...

Such intereating buildings. Life in the smaller dwellings must have been very tough especially in the Winter.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Thanks for sharing so many splendid photos and so much fascinating information. Sliabh Luachra had a fine musical tradition of music for dancing, bouncy sunny music. Accordian player Jackie Daly is one who still plays in that style. The byre house is similar in plan to the longhouses which existed and still exist in the Pennines. My granny used to have one of those foldaway beds - you had to be sure to tuck it up well otherwise everything fell out when you tried to close it up!

Roy said...

Pink, white and yellow houses D, looks a bit like parts of East Anglia. That bed looks a bit small.{:)

Dog Trot Farm said...

So interesting Rowan, my cup of tea. My neighbor, the dairy farmer and his wife, are in your neck of the woods for the next ten days. I can't wait to hear their tales. My late mother in-law, shared with me her fond memories of growing up with Irish Wolfhounds. Hugs from Maine, Julie. said...

Dear Rowan,
I thouroughly enjoyed going on this journey with you through the park..
People were so poor or very rich in those days. Its really not changed.
The little cottages, i would love to have one now myself.
My grandmother was from county cork.
The hounds are such great dogs.
Here in Portugal , up in the mountains, you will still find people living like this. maybe a little few modern gadgets..but not many. Some houses, the cattle live below under the living quarters.
excellent post. most enjoyed.
thank you
Happy Friday.

Martha said...

I loved your tour! Those cottages are so pretty!

Witchcrafted Life said...

The flood of memories (though I never got a chance to visit this exact spot - much as I'm certain I would have enjoyed it) this post brings back is quite strong, for I spent two years living in Ireland when I was newly married.

At first we called Dublin home and later headed south to the wee little town of Clonakility in Co. Cork. Though at times Ireland and I were like oil and water, there were good, beautiful moments and it's those that images like this make me nostalgic for.

I hope you have a truly amazing trip - thank you for taking us on it through your photo filled posts, dear lady.

♥ Jessica

Mac n' Janet said...

What a great place Rowan! Thanks for all the pictures.
When I hear Gaelic I thought it sounded like German, rather harsh, not lilting as I'd always thought it would.

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

What a fascinating post! I love the thatched roofed cottages. Thanks for your visit and enjoy your weekend.


Dartford Warbler said...

Thank you for such an interesting post. I have never visited Ireland but would love to go one day. The reconstructed crofts/cottages are so well done. Like stepping back a hundred years or more.

Bella's Rose Cottage said...

Hi Rowan,
What an amazing trip! I love all the tales you have shared of their lives. I adore the little stone cottages, charming as can be... it all looks so peaceful:-)

Ruthie Redden said...

I do so love to see how folks lived in days gone by, and what better way then someplace like this, so fascinating. It is hard to imagine what life must have really been like for them. Thank you for sharing your visit, I feel as though I have been there myself! But oh I am going to have to put this on my list of places I long to visit.

kerrdelune said...

Wonderful, wonderful - one of these days I am going to make it back to Ireland - if only a wolfhound would fit in my luggage coming home!

Gracie said...

Thanks for the follow up, so interesting.

Nella Miller said...

What an incredible visit to you this morning, Rowan! So very happy to meet you...your photos are lovely, and I enjoyed this journey with you! I am a lover of the country life and all it entails and this visual treat of Ireland was very appreciated. N.xo

Kari L√łnning said...

What great photos. The staddle stones remind me of how the traditional Norwegians used to build their food storage huts up on posts to keep the mice out. LOVED the photo of the haystack!