Synge’s House, Inishmaan

From The Aran Islands by John Millington Synge

My room is at one end of the cottage, with a boarded floor and ceiling, and two windows opposite each other.  Then there is the kitchen with earth floor and open rafters, and two doors opposite each other opening into the open air, but no windows.  Beyond it are two small rooms of half the width of the kitchen with one window apiece.

The kitchen itself, where I will spend most of my time, is full of beauty and distinction.  The red dresses of the women who cluster round the fire on their stools give a glow of almost Eastern richness, and the walls have been toned by the turf-smoke to a soft brown that blends with the grey-earth colour of the floor.  Many sorts of fishing tackle, and the nets and oil-skins of the men, are hung upon the walls or among the open rafters; and right overhead, under the thatch there is a whole cowskin from which they make pampooties.

As I sit in the kitchen to dry the spray from my coat, several men who had seen me walking up came in to talk to me, usually murmuring on the threshold, “The blessing of God on this place,” or some similar words.


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