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Ulster Folk & Transport Museum

Magheragallan Byre dwelling

Rural Area - Discovery Farm 50

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This is an original building. The one roomed house and ruined dwelling beside it came from Maghergallan townland in northwest County Donegal. It was built in the 1870s on the ‘machire’, (coastal plain) overlooking Gweedore bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The building was dismantled and moved to the Folk Museum in 1974.

This type of house is known as a byre dwelling because it housed both people and animals together in its’ single room. It had thick walls of mostly granite boulders, a rounded roof profile and a thatched roof held down securely to stone pegs in the wall heads. These houses provided affordable weatherproof accommodation for people and animals.

Inside the house at one gable end is the hearth and living area. At the other gable end there is the byre. The byre space is a stone flagged area between the opposite doors flanked by a stone drain. No physical separation existed between man and beast when the house was occupied. The house furnishings represent the modest living conditions in many such houses in northwest Ireland in the early 1900s.

These buildings were in intermittent use until about 1950. Originally built as seasonal dwellings they are identical to permanently occupied byre dwellings formerly widespread in west Donegal. As few of these byre dwellings had survived intact the Museum acquired this one and the ruin beside it.

The house belonged to the Ferry family. They used it during the summer months when they brought their livestock down to the graze the land. A few strips of arable land were farmed and some poultry kept. The families of two brothers, Hugh and Maurice Ferry of Skeskinbeg, were the last families to use the house.

By the early 1970s the house was no longer used by the family and it was sold to a local buyer.