The Irish cottage is a cultural emblem of rural Ireland, full of contradiction. It’s a symbol of poverty and Famine, of comely maidens and a bygone era, and also a tourist attraction, an icon of old romantic Ireland. But it is also a place in which generations of Irish people lived their lives, filling their homes with homemade furniture and handicrafts, practicing their religious faith and living according to age-old traditions.
In The Irish Cottage: History, Culture and Design, Marion McGarry brings the Irish cottage to life, exploring how the cottage fits within the Irish landscape and discussing how Irish history, society, politics and culture shaped the design of these dwellings. She also examines the cottage as emblematic of Irish cultural identity and tourism, and looks at their depiction in art. The interior design and furniture of cottages is discussed as well as the daily lives of the people who lived within them.
Fully illustrated throughout, the text is accompanied by paintings, photographs and prints, demonstrating the colourful and culturally rich activities within the cottage. Although researched with an academic rigour, The Irish Cottage is an accessible read that will appeal to anyone with an interest in Irish history, identity and culture.
Marion McGarry is an art historian and lecturer, currently based at Galway–Mayo Institute of Technology.