Sunday, February 21, 2010

What was Anne's life in Kilcumnin like?

I wonder what the Hoey cottage in Kilcumnin looked like. Our family story tells us "their homes were poorly furnished and the only heat was from a fireplace in the kitchen. They burned peat (which is great heat) but the only warm spot was just in front of the fireplace."

An 1841 Irish census shows that 50% of rural Irish families lived in single room cabins; and that the majority of Irish families were rural. At this time, these homes had thatched roofs, dirt floors, and few if any windows; as you may have surmised, running water and electricity were not available. The cabins were white washed -- three to four times a year -- a task which fell to the women. Furniture was minimal and the family would eat around the fire - on which the food was prepared.

Potatoes were a dominant part of the diet, along with buttermilk. Tea was becoming more fashionable and common when Anne was a little girl. Whiskey was drunk at social events and family gatherings; men and women both drank whiskey - although when it was time to drink in the local pub -- that experience was reserved for men.

I've read that Irish girls often wore red -- a lucky color that kept away the fairies and refrained from wearing green (worn by the fairies.) Lynch-Brennan mentions red petticoats in one description. This same story notes that girls from West Ireland, as Anne was, wore flowered bodices and red skirts.

Wouldn't you love it if this this picture was in color? Do you think her petticoat red?

Again, Margaret Lynch-Brennan's work, The Irish Bridget is to thank for my brief thoughts. Her accessible book is impossible to put down and has brought me tremendous joy. I am also finding, that the more I learn, the more questions I have!

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