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Dervock and District Community Association Quick Reference 3217
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The Fireplace

All family activity took place round the fire - not just cooking.  Irons were heated for ironing clothes, water was boiled for washing, clothes were hung for drying or just to put on warm in the morning.  In the evenings the family gathered round the fire for light and heat.  That's when the stories of the day's activities were shared, along with the scarce news items carried by word of mouth round the houses.

Willie Peden describes the view coming down the Carncullagh Brae into the village of Dervock in the late 1930s.  The distinctive smell of the smoke from the fires and the evening sky lit up by the sparks from the shous (shows) fires.

To listen to Willie click here      listen.gif

(Shous were the husks or shell of the grains of the flax plant.)

  • Ingles - these  were the recesses both sides of the apron of the fire place.  They contained seats or a small settle (early sofa bed).
  • Mantel - the lintel above the fire place.  It was sometimes decorated with brass plate and  brass poles for drying the towels and drying cloths.  The mantlepiece or shelf was where the family heirlooms were displayed, usually two delph or chalk dogs, a clock, etc.
  • Habs - the two other parts of the fireplace. This was where the teapot, kettle or other containers sat to keep warm.
  • Creepies - the small three legged stools round the fire.


Typical cottage fire place showing crane, chains, cleeks or crook, the bools, the three-legged pot and kettle

Click here to view a descriptive layout of a fireplace.

Fireplace Utensils

Included a poker, tongs, shovel, fire rake.  Sometimes goose wings were kept for brushing the ashes into the pit. They were also used for brushing the flour on the baking boards. 

The Craic

Oil lamps trimmed, the fire well stoked, that's when the magic of the Kailye or kailyin (ceildh) took place.   
(We will be adding links to stories.)

A blessing given on entering or leaving a house

May the Lord bring happiness tae a' gethered here

Many's a story was told or retold round the fire.  Even the very flames themselves could dictate to the family some part of their future.  A predominantely blue flame signalled a change in the weather.  Older people believed they could see faces or objects in the flames. 

The seat nearest the fire and away from the smoke was always given up to someone of importance such as the local minister, when the conversation would run thus ... 

 " get up an gee his reverence that sate Willie John yur shins are mazeled enough. Yull tak a wee cup o' tae and a bite o' fresh baked breed your reverence. Boys a boys isent the weather powerful fir this time o year ...".


Cooking utensils included:

  • frying pan
  • stewpot
  • baking pot or oven pot 
  • griddle various sizes 
  • three legged pots
  • teapots
  • big boilers These were used for boiling food for livestock, washing clothes, as well as food for large gatherings such as harvest. Not forgetting boiling loads of hot water, which was placed in front of the fire for bathing adults and children alike. 

An early grace 

"Some hae meat an canny eat  nae odds how much they want  it,

 But we hae meat an we can eat an so the Lord be thankit"


The recipes that kept generations alive and healthy...

Scad the begger - some say this was the same as Mealy crushie, others talk about frying leftovers for the tramps that came calling

Mealy crushie - oatmeal fried in pan of bacon fat

 Peneada- bread steeped in hot milk or tea with sugar, loads of sugar

Hard Breed - traditional oatmeal biscuits

Egg nog - beaten egg water and flour fried in a pan of bacon fat

Fadge - potatoes and flour baked on a griddle into circular scones then cut in quarters  

Pancakes - flour, eggs, water and various different ingredients 

Soda farls - soda bread flour, buttermilk, margerine etc baked on a griddle

Spotted loaf - soda bread flour, dried fruit, apples (in some recipes),  eggs etc.

Weaten farls - wheaten meal flour etc.

Indian Sodas - basicaly the same as soda farls but with yellow indian corn meal

Weaten scones - nearly the same as the wheaten farls only shaped like scones

Treacle scones - almost the same as soda scones only mixed with treacle

Wee slims -

We will also include other recipes from our Welsh, Scottish and English cousins that were in  common useage in some areas.




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