A History of Houses

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  • Home Life in Donegal



Thatched Cottages

Thatched cottages were built for hundreds of years in Donegal. Some remain to this day, and well-maintained examples are similar in price to newer homes.




Thatch was very popular in centuries gone by because it was cheaper than the alternatives and could last for up to fifty years.




At the beginning of the twentieth century, most houses in rural areas of Donegal were built from local stone. They consisted of an upper bedroom and a large central room, which doubled as a kitchen and sitting area, sometimes with a bed arranged in a corner.




Furniture usually consisted of a table, several chairs or stools and an open dresser proudly displaying the family's china collection.

Dormitory Towns

Gradually, slate roofs began to replace traditional thatched roofs. More rooms were added on to the gable ends of cottages as families increased in size and prosperity.

The principal houses of Donegal towns were usually built along the main streets. These were the homes of merchants and professionals.


Many shopkeepers lived above their business premises. In the twenty-first century, as the population of the bigger towns has increased, outlying villages have been transformed into 'dormitory' towns.


This means that workers must travel from these outlying areas to their places of employment in the larger towns.