Vernacular Cottages in Cullentragh

Upon a hill, in the townland of Cullentragh lay the remains of several vernacular cottages. These cottages would have been inhabited during Famine times—​going into the late 19th Century (Michigan State University, 2009). But what are vernacular cottages? One source (Laois County Council, 2019) offers a working definition of ‘vernacular buildings.’ Vernacular buildings, it says, are those buildings which are designed and built by the people who live in them.

These types of cottages would likely have been family homes. Incredible as it may seem, one small cottage, during Famine times, could have housed 2-3 families. Though the cottages in Cullentragh lay mostly in ruins, some of their interior structures can still be identified (Michigan State University, 2009). In one of the cottages in Cullentragh, “there is a small nook tucked into the interior wall of the house near the fireplace.” “This area would have been called the Cullach’s Room and would have been where the grandma slept.” “The sleeping area is not full-sized, because at the time, tuberculosis (TB) was very prevalent and sleeping upright was known to minimize the build up of fluids in the lungs” (Michigan State University, 2009).


  1. Laois County Council (2019). Vernacular Buildings. Available at:,Housing%2C%20Local%20Government%20and%20Heritage. Accessed 17th of May, 2024.

  2. Michigan State University, Study Abroad Programme. (2009). Vernacular Cottages. Internal Report: Folder 2, Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail—Clogher Environmental Group Ltd. Unpublished.