History & Traditions, Philosophy

Living History 100 years ago

Margaret uses a Box iron – that is heated on the fire to iron her clothes. She cooks all her meals and bakes her own bread in a pot oven, over the open fire. She lives in a house without electricity and modern conveniences. This is not a reality show where we are taken back in time for a short period. This is the life of someone living in modern times, but just as people did 100 years ago in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

The fire, Margaret says, is essential not just for life, but for the house itself to survive, as the timbers, need the fire to preserve them. Without the fire, you could not live this way.

In addition, this county has interesting natural and social history features. As well as rare plants, there is the pagan stone – where the firstborn of stock and family were sacrificed in pagan times! A Holy Spring is located there – the waters of which are supposed to cure nervous and paralytic disorders.

It is thought some of my family may have come from this county, around 130 years ago, so this is a snapshot into the way of life they may have led. Margaret doesn’t see this house as a time capsule, the way we might.


She sees it as home just as her father and Grandfather did.

Could you live a life without modern conveniences. the way Margaret does?

If you had to give them up, which one would you miss the most?

Which one would you choose to keep?

55 thoughts on “Living History 100 years ago”

  1. Its funny, people who choose to live a simple life without modern conveniences have more peace in their lives and i find that they are also more content. Technology that was initially meant to bring people together, somehow, have driven people further apart. Social media comes to mind – you find kids who lack social skills, emotional intelligence,who don’t develop basic lifeskills as a result of technology (information overload/overstimulation of the brain). Back when there were no cellphones, there was way more unity & REAL interaction between people. I, for one, have no probelm with understanding certain peoples need for a simpler existence. For those of us who are religiously/spiritually inclined, this this of environment is perfect for fostering a bond with god or something higher. The ones you love will also get to connect with you better without the conveniences (distractions) we have at our disposal.

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    1. Somehow I missed the notification for this comment, Mayet, but I found it now! I totally agree that people who do not have all the modern conveniences seem to by and large, have no problems with the way they live and appear more contented. If they didn’t, they surely would change. A simpler life is far less complicated, be that with the aid of a spiritual belief or not. Social media is a blight on society, and no one could have foreseen what might have happened with an improvement in communication. The internet, however, I do believe to be largely positive. We would not have been communicating here if it were not for the internet. One can access different perspectives of opinions without going through the controlled media channels. That is a good thing, but you are right. Overstimulation of the brain leads to stress and anxiety as we were born to interact in a personal way. Even if folks have social anxiety, they still need contact with others, in a personal way, just not so much of it as others. Thanks for your comment.

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      1. Apologies. I just read through my comment now and realised that I made so many errors. I’m glad that you could understand my points clearly, despite my horrid grammar and typos – I commented in such a rush!

        I definitely agree with you – all technology isn’t bad. I suppose that it also comes down to the user making the choice to utilise tech in a beneficial way. The internet is an amazing tool but, as with all things in life, moderation is the key. It would be ideal for us to strike a balance.

        I am new to blogging and I am really enjoying the blogging/Wordpress platfrom. Its very different from regular social media. There’s no censorship, we get a lot of unbiased reports from people on the ground (there’s a lot of info that get withheld by the news/they are selective when it comes to reporting), we get to see things from different perspectives and interact with a wide range of people.

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for being so responsive to your readers. I really enjoy your page. Keep it up

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        1. Thanks for that supportive comment, Mayet. WordPress is great – not just because it is without certain biases, but also it is an open source program. I support that! Keep writing. No worries about the typos.

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  2. This sounds like my cottage. I haul water from my barrel outside to the kitchen inside but I cook on the BBQ outside. I have no running water, electricity or indoor plumbing. I light the place with candles and oil lamps and I don’t go up when the weather is cold. I love it.

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      1. We have electricity at the island but have chosen not to hook up the cottage, for now anyway. Even when we’re not there we’d have to pay a monthly fee of $100 to $200 for the service. That’s a lot of money for something we wouldn’t be using for 8 months of the year. Here in Toronto where we live most of the time we’ve installed solar panels to offset the cost of our electricity bills.

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  3. She’s an interesting young woman, Amanda. I don’t think I could cope with lighting fires and hauling water on a full time bass but there’s a certain romanticism to it 🙂 🙂

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    1. Romantic indeed but hard work also. I would not mind the fire at all, except in a cold Irish winter, but the hauling the winter in the rain could get tedious.

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  4. I think I could survive if all the modern conveniences were taken away, but I wouldn’t want to. It’s funny though how times like our present situation turn our thoughts to the possibility of having to meet basic needs without modern conveniences. I think I’d miss shampoo, and skin lotions the most. And of course the things we take for granted now with modern medicines. I rarely take antibiotics but I wouldn’t be here today if they weren’t around.

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    1. Likewise with me, Chris. I am happy to take away the electrical appliances for manual ones but do not want to go without modern medicine. Can you imagine dealing with bubonic plague or leprosy as well as Corona?

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  5. For my first seven years in Australia, I cooked on a wood stove. It and a fireplace provided our heat. Have also often lived without electricity in the developing world. I can do it when I have to, but appreciate the conveniences.

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    1. When we go camping or don’t have electricity, it is for the short term and I don’t mind it at all. I am sure I would lament if I didn’t have electricity long term. After all, I couldn’t blog! The Moth can’t bear not having any TV and doesn’t know waht to do with himself if we stay in a remote cottage without it.
      However, perhaps he would get used to it. A bit like going back to black and white TV after having colour. After half and hour, you don’t notice it at all. Cooking on a wood stove is more an art, than a skill, Peggy. I admire that! Well done@!

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  6. What a fascinating concept, Amanda! Particularly in this time when the economics of the world is threatened, it is certainly a poignant question: what is the bare minimum we can live with, or even thrive in?

    I am afraid I am far from having an answer. I want to believe that I can pare down to a simpler life; but reliance on tech and modern conveniences has become so ingrained in me, I really have to think this out. Now with headspace and time, this is a good thought exercise to begin with.

    Thank you for bringing yet another challenge to us, Amanda. I never fail to find though- & habit-provoking stimulus through your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh – that is a kind compliment to me and my writing. I do try to write posts that are interesting to others, but also as I say in my blurb: information that is important to share with others. This doesn’t really apply to the photography challenge, but that serves other purposes, like building community.
      To your comment on what is the bare minimum we can live with, or thrive in? That would be absolutely different for each individual, and so it should be as we differ so greatly from the next person. I would like to think as I get older that I will pare down to absolute essentials only. No clutter or fluff, no tons of craft supplies, or memorabila, well – perhaps a little memorabilia. I don’t want to leave a huge task for someone to clean up after me when I leave this earth.

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      1. That is indeed a sobering thought, Amanda – what are we leaving for our loved ones to sort through and clear when we are gone ….

        It is so difficult to get rid of supplies, though (read: scraps of this & that for “just in case”) – I keep thinking we might need it for another project ….

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        1. I think the same, but did have a lot of decluttering out of necessity with the recent move. I wonder if I should discipline myself to make a scrap quilt with all the scraps, so that I won’t have to keep them for the “one day,” in the future. I could sew a bit once a week, maybe? It could be a nice thing to watch it grow?

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  7. Electricity would be a big one– especially being so accustomed to light switches instead of lanterns, battery-charging of tools and electronic media. It helps to be born into her environment. I knew an elderly woman who, many years ago, was originally disappointed because her sons had a modern toilet installed to replace the outhouse of her old place. Eventually, she got used to the new convenience. Have a good one, Amanda.
    Art

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    1. Thank you, Art. I think you are right there, eventually we get used to new appliances, as Margaret might one day have to do. It is clear that she would be capable of change, but it is her choice to keep the old ways. In doing so, she is living history! I dislike having to replace electrical appliances even now. The newer models always have some gimmicking LED displays and 50 + more settings that the original manual functions the earlier models had. That frustrates me and I am still challenged by the new TV remotes. That shows how seldom I watch TV I guess. So I definitely would not miss that.

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  8. I could easily live without an iron … I almost do 😉 . I’m aware I need to reply to your comment on my comment to Sunday’s post. I’m struggling to find it at the moment, but I will, promise!

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    1. No stress about responding to comments or posts, Margaret. Life has to come before blogging! I think I am in your league -I hate ironing and avoid any clothes that look like they will need it. However, it has been so hot in summer that I am choosing natural fabrics like linen – which does need to be ironed after washing…….

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  9. Our home was built in 1911 and we’ve lived in it 26 years, and although since modernised over the years we still have open fireplaces in several rooms. During the winter months I usually light a fire in the lounge most evenings as, although we have central heating, it makes us feel very cosy. On Christmas Day we also light a fire in the Dining Room too but rarely use the room otherwise for eating as we have a big table in the kitchen. I wouldn’t be without an open fire but it does create a lot of extra cleaning. We also have a large pantry with original stone slab counters and wooden shelves which I also wouldn’t be without. We’ve retained the servants bells in the utility room which would have been the scullery as a design feature, but disconnected them from the brass buttons beside the fireplaces as our children thought it was great fun to ring them just to annoy us, as there would only be my husband and me to answer. I love my rambling old home but it is very poorly insulated and takes a lot of maintenance and keeping warm. Perhaps one day we’ll go the other way and move to somewhere new but for now I’m happy the way it is but returning to your question,I couldn’t live without modern conveniences, I just like the old things as an optional extra!

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    1. Your home sounds delightful, Marion and I love the historical features that you have honoured by keeping and maintaining. I am a big fan of fires. I even had one in my former home – it was decorated in hygge Scandi style. There is nothing better in winter than to sit in front of a fire watching the flames. Even better with a nice glass of wine on the weekends! Even though my fireplace was a modern addition and sealed (a combustion heater), I did notice that there was more dust accumulate when the fire was on. Have you posted some photos of the servants bell and countertops. I would love to see them if it is something you are happen to share? I can imagine my kids ringing that bell too, if they had access to one!
      Having now moved to a very modern house, it is so much easier to clean than my vintage timber lined house. It is light and airy and there is a lot of white! Which I didn’t think I would every have. But I do like it and the modern appliances are so enjoyable. Ironically, I have more time now, and less housework and yard maintenance to do. But that is what we planned.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Amanda, Your new house looks gorgeous and I could happily adjust to living in a similar one to that. Despite our house being old, all the rooms have large windows with small leaded squares and is actually very light and airy. It’s of Edwardian Arts and Crafts design and we moved in when the children were tiny. Since the lockdown I’ve been decluttering and tidying, unearthing all sorts of odds and ends! I’ll take some photos and arrange for you to see them! M.

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  10. I could live like that for one week to see what it was like, but no more. Margaret strikes me as someone who has retreated from the world successfully, but why she’s doing that I cannot fathom. She seems a bit unhinged to me.

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    1. Unhinged? Do you think so? I think she may come from a very sheltered upbringing. She says that she could not cope with school, so perhaps has some learning difficulties or might be on the spectrum? But Unhinged? No, I didn’t get that at all. She holds down a job educating the community, tourists and schoolchildren about the features of the area. I don’t see her as unhinged when compared to an obsessional prepper community preparing for the apocalypse by locking themselves away. And yes, it would be fun to live that way for a week, or possibly even a month. I did experience carting my own water in the mountains of Norway for a couple of weeks and am now making my own sourdough bread. Perhaps I am regressing? But perhaps the novelty would wear off, too.

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  11. First of all, let me say I am drawn to anything Irish. The music, the stone walls, the people’s accents, the Trinity library . . . This youtube vid looks fascinating and I’ve saved it to watch later this evening. I’d not be happy without electricity and running hot water, but as I’ve discovered in these last few weeks, there are a LOT of indispensables that I’ve managed to do without just fine. You never know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is interesting, isn’t it, L.L.? This enforced stay-at-home has given us such a window on life, that we never imagined. A different perspective on a simpler way. No amount of encouragement or tempting could have induced us to choose to go without outings, activities, shopping or socialising with family or friends voluntarily and yet they are many benefits in this. People are cooking at home more, learning new skills, like baking bread, for example, they are also spending time with their kids, rather than dropping them off to daycare; the planet is getting a break and yet this concept would have been laughable if someone had suggested we do it last year. Amazing isn’t it? I think I could do without running water, but electricity and the internet would be difficult for me as I have become so accustomed to it. I hope you like seeing a bit of Ireland as Margaret walks around the county in her video a good bit. I enjoyed seeing the natural features of the countryside. Do you have an Irish connection, L.L.?
      Have you told me your name? Or shall I just call you, L.L.?
      Amanda

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