Irish houses in Cobh - Chris Hill - Failte Ireland/Tourism Ireland

Irish houses

Irish houses in Cobh - Chris Hill - Failte Ireland/Tourism Ireland


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If you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit Ireland, you certainly couldn’t miss the beautiful houses built in the Irish tradition… Some of them have brightly coloured facades, ranging from deep blue, to yellow, or even eccentric pink… Others have been whitewashed, and have thatched roofs made with traditional techniques. Here is a small presentation of these houses with typical Irish charm.

The whitewashed houses with thatched roofs

Thatch, a cheap and ecological material

An irish house - kagererdavid94 - cc

An Irish house – kagererdavid94cc

Irish houses have had whitewashed walls and thatched roofs for centuries. Known for its ecological virtues, thatch is a natural material, made from rye, reed, and ridge soil, which makes the house perfectly healthy, protected from cold and humidity.

However, this has a disadvantage: the thatch ends up rotting in places and needs to be partially cleaned every 3 to 5 years. Indeed, the rain, coupled with the sun, and the cold, end up seeing the creation of mosses and lichens on the thatch, which should be removed regularly …

Despite this disadvantage, thatch is still a very durable material, requiring only a complete renewal every 50 years.

As for the fact that the walls are whitewashed, it is simply because this material has been used for more than 6000 years by men! Lime has anti-sceptic virtues that sanitize the house, protect it from humidity, and keep it in a durable state.

A real estate heritage now threatened

Originally, only peasants and fishing families lived in these traditional houses, made of thatch, stone and lime. They were inexpensive, and provided a healthy living environment, protected from cold, incessant rain, and humidity.

In spite of everything, this local heritage is today threatened: it would represent only 0.1% of the Irish housing stock. This is due to the gradual disappearance of craftsmen specialising in thatched roofs and building workers using traditional Irish building techniques.

Moreover, the current processes of house construction in Ireland are more modern, more reliable and even more durable, thanks to the use of tiles or slates directly imported from foreign countries… It would thus seem that the time of the early Irish houses is nowadays on the verge of extinction…

Houses with coloured walls…

Colour and cheerfulness on every street corner!

In Ireland, the gloom of the rain has almost no effect on the morale of the Irish people! And with good reason! The latter do not hesitate to brighten up their towns or villages every day, painting their houses in a wide range of colours, from blue, to firecracker orange, to a more sober purple…

If the brightness of these colours can be surprising, it allows the Irish to give each house its own identity, without sinking into the dull style of some workers’ houses, identical to each other, which can be seen in some Irish working-class districts.

For as soon as the Irish can, they don’t hesitate to swap the depressing red bricks for a satin plaster, covered with a thick coat of bright paint.

Unlike thatched roofs and whitewashed walls, houses with colourful facades are legion in Ireland. You will come across them everywhere, whether in the small coastal fishing villages, or the big cities like Galway, Cork, or Killarney. Moreover, even pubs and other shopkeepers’ signs are also dressed in intense colours, so as not to give in to the monotony of houses without souls or identities.

Original Dublin doors

Georgian Doors of Dublin - Tobias Abel - cc

Georgian Doors of Dublin – Tobias Abel – cc

If you take a walk around Dublin, you will notice that the city also has houses with a real originality: their Georgian-style doors are brightly coloured. Indeed, the city has facades that are often less colourful than their counterparts, but their gates make up for it with red, yellow, green, blue, and other bright colours.

According to the rumours, the choice of these coloured doors would make it easier for drunken Irish people to find their home after a night at the pub, without confusing their home with another one…


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