The three windowed thatched roof cottage discussed here really only become part of the Irish landscape after the Great Famine (1848). Prior to that many rural Irish lived in ramshackle cabins, with no windows or chimneys. The post Famine cottage represents gradual improvements made to domestic Irish living standards, through increased prosperity and new trends in household hygiene.
Cottages were built from all local materials, stone, reed/thatch using craft traditions distinctive to each locality. In this way they are really part of the landscape of Ireland. They also demonstrate contemporary sustainable architectural theory and even unwittingly echo some of AWN Pugin's (1812-42) proposals about 'honest' architecture 'matching' the surrounding land.
In 1935 the Swedish researcher Åke Campbell undertook a survey of rural cottages. He observed: ‘the Irish peasant house never stands out in bold relief against its background but melts into it even as a tree or a rock. Built of stone, clay, sods, grass and straw brought from the vicinity, the house harmonises with the landscape to which it belongs.’
Because rural cottages suit the rugged Irish landscape so well they have at time represented Irish identity as a tourist icon, nationalist political symbol and as artists' 'muse'.