Connemara Housing

Housing in Connemara has improved radically since the Devon Commission report in 1845. Most urban and rural housing stock is now up to modern standards.  

The Devon Commission (Commission on Occupation of Land (Ireland)  1843 to 1845) used 4 categories to describe habitations in rural Connemara.
52.8% were in the lowest class. These were all mud cabins with one room and these housed 53% of all families. They were generally without windows or a proper chimney.
37.6% were in the next class. These were mud cottages with 2 to 4 rooms and had one or more windows.
9% were in the next class. These were classed as a good farm house, or in town, a house in a small street having from five to nine rooms and windows.
0.6% were all houses of a higher quality.

Most farmers built their own houses. The custom was to place almost every building below the level of the adjacent ground. The houses had a step down into the interior which led to a high level of dampness.  Cabins were usually built of clay or sod on a foundation of stone. They used a slope at right-angles to the contours so that the top ends were set against a hillside or large rocky outcrop. Many had rounded corners making them an elongated oval.  Horizontal bands or tops of bog-fir, sally or heather, were pegged into the thatch at intervals.

In Connemara the scallop or scobe thatch was secured by bent rods which were hidden except at the ridge and along the eaves, where they were worked into lozenge patterns.

Housing stock gradually improved in the post famine period due to improving social and economic circumstances.  In the 20th and 21st century significant personal investment and government incentives helped to bring the majority of Connemara housing stock up to modern standards.

Between 1946 and 1979, over 420,000 customers in rural Ireland were connected to the national grid as part of the Rural Electrification Scheme. On 8 September 2003, two of the last remaining places in Ireland unconnected to the national grid – Inishturbot and Inishturk islands in Connemara were finally connected to the national grid.