The kitchen hearth has a practical and social function and is the centre of an Irish house.
The day to day activities inside an Irish farmhouse centre around the fire, the hearth and the heart of the home.
The kitchen hearth is the centre of the house.
The hearth is the focus of a home and makes the the kitchen the living room of the house. The kitchen also serves as a functional and working area with the fire playing a part in many domestic activities. The hearth is also the social centre of the house with guests seated around the fire, stories told and traditions passed on.
Here, the seanachaí and the storyteller held court.
The hearth also provides an orientation to the entire house with all other rooms referred to in relation to their location to the hearth, above or below the kitchen. The hearth also dictates the positioning of furniture with seating facing the fire. It would be unusual for someone to sit with their back to the fireplace. Some old fireplaces even have seating within the hearth.
A working hearth could contain two or three different fires of different sizes and different degrees of intensity as required for baking bread, making tea or cooking fresh food. There was always food being cooked on the hearth.
Always the freshest of food, always freshly cooked.
'Hearth and Stool and All: Hearth and Household' was broadcast on 18 January 1967. The programme was written and presented by Kevin Danaher.