"Made to Grow Old": Dressers, Delph, and Island Homes in Western Ireland

Author(s): Meredith Chesson; Annmarie Lindzy

Year: 2015


Archaeologists have described and discussed households for decades, yet only recently have them made the theoretical leap from residential structures and coresidential units to peoples’ homes. Homes are built, embodied and enlivened by peoples’ actions, thoughts, relationships, experiences and aspirations. This poster presents the results of an ethnoarchaeoogical analysis of homemaking on the islands of Inishbofin and Inishark (co. Galway) as well as Inishturk (co. Mayo) in western Ireland. Through the ethnographic lens of dressers and delph on Inishbofin and Inishturk, we investigate how people employed the material goods of everyday life to build and preserve a sense of home. In turn, we compare these ethnographic delph and dressers to the archaeological material remains of 19th century homes on Inishark. By holding delph and other objects, dressers protect and embrace memories of loved ones lost to death and emigration as well as mementoes of important life milestones like pilgrimages, births, deaths, and marriages. We argue that dressers and their contents transformed houses into home, working in tandem with the main hearth to anchor the home in a family, a community and island heritage.

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Cite this Record

"Made to Grow Old": Dressers, Delph, and Island Homes in Western Ireland. Meredith Chesson, Annmarie Lindzy. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396995)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;