Cailleach’s bed by the hearth

There’s an interesting article on the Old European Culture blog about alcoves found in old houses in parts of Ireland. The alcoves, built next to the warm hearth, were apparently called cailleach, which of course reminds us of the name of the old veiled one, the goddess.

Whether this is coincidence or not, it reminds me of the little house in Scotland made to keep the Cailleach and her family warm through the winter, and I imagine a time when each house would have a place for the Cailleach near to the fire.


The source for the article is a record of a house plan in Galway from the Irish Folklore Photograph Collection. The note reads:

“The bed outshot was a common feature of houses in north-west Ulster and north-west Connaught, consisting of an alcove in the back wall of the house beside the hearth. The purpose of this small extension to the house was to provide additional sleeping accommodation and it was often occupied by elderly people. A common name for the outshot was the cailleach, which according to folk etymology derives from “cúil theach” (the back of the house).”





About singinghead

druid, mathematician, blogger, gardener...
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