Curry’s Cottage is set in attractive but poor farming land near the southern border of Co Fermanagh. It is one of a small number of cruck cottages still surviving in the province, but a very significant survival as few are now in their original location.
The cottage is said to have been built about three hundred years ago. We have been unable to find documentary evidence to support such antiquity, but tree ring analysis of the crucks indicates they are bog oak. The last owner, Mr Seamus Curry, was born in the cottage about 1920, and his family had been there for some time before that, although they are not thought to have built it and the similarity of the local townland name, Corry, may be just coincidence.
Externally it is a simple single-storey dwelling with whitewashed mud walls curved at the corners, small windows, a half-door, and a deep overhanging hipped thatched roof. Across the ‘street’ (as the lane in front of an old cottage is called) are a neatly trimmed hedge and plum tree. Behind is a tin barn storing turf and withys for thatching, while a stream runs alongside the hedge to the road. In a field nearby Mr Curry grew rye for thatching, as he maintained his own cottage.
Internally, the house has a stone hearth for the turf fire under a wide open chimney, the traditional crane for the kettle, and a beam over the hearth to carry goods that must be kept dry. The ceiling is open to the roof, exposing the cruck trusses which rise from the wall and support a series of rough narrow ‘purlins’ that carry the turfs and thatch of the roof. This central room is known in Ireland as the kitchen, combining as it does the functions of kitchen, dining and living room in one small space, and the half-door leads directly into it. The even smaller rooms off it at each end are bedrooms, and here the ceilings had been sheeted over.
Restoring the old cottage involved stabilisation of the severely bulging mud walls and repairs to the ancient roof timbers, along with new services. Hearth has also built an annex alongside it (a conventional extension was not possible without breaking into the hipped roof) in place of recent byres, in order to provide the modern facilities of a kitchen and bathroom, along with a bedroom. The annex houses the more intrusive elements of modern living, but it is not intended to be self-sufficient, and the old kitchen of the cottage remains the focus of life in the farmstead. The project won an EHS Conservation Award in 2002.
Hearth Historic Buildings Trust
T Chambers & Sons Ltd
Heritage Lottery Fund, Environment & Heritage Service DoE