Fireplaces in Ancient Ireland

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XV

It is probable that fire-light was, however, the principal means of assisting the visual organs after dark in both countries. Until comparatively recent times, fires were generally made on square, flat stones, and these could be placed, as appears to have been the case at Tara, in different parts of any large hall or apartment. There was sometimes a "back stone" to support the pile of wood and turf. The smoke got out how best it might, unless where there was a special provision made for its exit, in the shape of a round hole in the roof. At a later period a "brace" was sometimes made for conducting it. The brace was formed of upright stakes, interlaced with twigs, and plastered over, inside and outside, with prepared clay—the earliest idea of the modern chimney.

Macaulay [3] gives us a picture of an ancient Roman fire-side, and the occupations of those who sat round it. We can, perhaps, form a more accurate and reliable idea of the dress, amusements, and occupations of those who surrounded the hall-fires of ancient Tara, or the humble, domestic hearths of the crannoges or wattled houses.


[3] Macaulay.—Lays of Ancient Rome.—Horatius.