Irish - Settlements

Settlement patterns have of course varied much over time and place. The dominant Celtic pattern seems to have been scattered fort/cattle pen/households ( rath ). Peasant communities following a mixed-cattle, agricultural regime, at least in the west of Ireland, lived in small hamlets ( clachan or clibin ), using a commonly held infield for grain and vegetables and an extensive outfield "mountain" for livestock. This pattern was generally eliminated (though there are a few survivals) through landlord intervention by the middle of the nineteenth century. The demise of such traditional patterns was also accelerated by the famine and emigration. The resulting pattern was of more or less dispersed households and farms, or more concentrated but separate rows of dwellings where geography and varying land type made that form appropriate. In either case, however, the "townland" ( baile fearainn ), which corresponds to the common holding of the traditional cluster settlement, may continue to operate as a socially Significant "neighborhood" and its inhabitants may even continue to hold common rights to turf (for fuel) in bogs and grazing land on mountains. Elsewhere other agricultural and/or geographical factors made for other settlement types, including dispersed large farms, estate villages, or the street market towns, which mainly developed in the nineteenth Century under landlord regimes.

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