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Nasty Cabins (1675 approx)

Petty gives us an insight into the conditions of the plain people (of Ireland):“Men live in such cottages as they themselves can make in three or four days ….. the housing thereof consists of ….. nasty Cabbins, in which Butter nor Cheese nor Linnen, Yarn nor Worsted ….can be made to the best advantage …..chiefly by reason of the Soot and Smoaks annoying the same – as also for the Narrowness and Nastiness of the Place; which cannot be kept clean nor safe from beasts and vermin, nor from Damps and Musty Stenches of which all the eggs laid or kept in those Cabbins do partake”
Clothing:    from Sheep’s Wool
Food:    grow their own veg / Bread / Potatoes / Eggs & Butter / Fish
Fuel:    Turf mainly, sometimes wood

Petty’s account of the Nasty Cabbins in 1675 is similar to that of Arthur Young in 1770, and to that of Tomas O’Criomhthain, nearly a century later again in 1870.

The absence of a chimney was the chief cause of the Nastiness.  The chimney probably came in to use in Ireland around 1680 or so, but not for some time thereafter, in Kerry.

When they build a chimney on the house, it was inevitably put on a gable wall.  As the stonework of the chimney wall was not fully waterproof, rain frequently got in, causing all sorts of problems – not least of which, it often made the fire difficult to light.

From: Discovering Kerry (T J Barrington)Notes from the Newspaper Archive in Kerry County Library, Tralee
The newspaper content of the late 1800’s seems to indicate much hardship and poverty among the poorer people of Ireland, and in Kerry in particular.

1897 / 1898 – the Potato crop would appear to have failed yet again