Quintessentially Irish

Hay Barn
Hay Barn

Red hay barns, just like this one, punctuate the Irish landscape. They are a dying breed now as more modern versions are appearing.

I guess I’ve tended to take these galvanised rednesses very much for granted but it’s when I see them being overtaken by time, I realise how much they are part of the Ireland of my time.

I’ve no clue about hay barns in other countries, and would love to hear about them.

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

27 thoughts on “Quintessentially Irish”

  1. I love barns of all kinds. I have a picture folio of all types of barns from yesteryear. the barns in North America are mostly made of wood. Some with galvanized roofs. I have always been attracted to the country, perhaps in another life time I lived there as I know the tremendous work it takes to run a farm. Be well.

    1. That’s fascinating that you’re so into barns. I find it hard to even visualise one made from wood.
      I was fortunate to have spent a lot of time in my childhood on my grandmother’s farm, playing around in the hay barns and doing stuff like collecting newly laid eggs and ‘helping’ to milk the cows. It’s great to have those memories.

  2. Many years ago, farmers sealed their barns with linseed oil which is orange in color (it comes from the seeds of the flax plant). To this oil they added milk & lime and ferous oxide (rust). Rust was plentiful as it was used to treat fungi and mosses and was a good sealant. It turned the mixture red. To honor the tradition people stuck with painting their barns red. I like the Hex signs that one sees in Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch country that adorns each barn…We have our share of red barns in the rurual communities of New England.

    1. CC, the smell of hay is wonderful, isn’t it?
      While I like the rolls of hay in fields, I still pine after old-fashioned haystacks.
      And, I must add that the world ‘roll’ in relation to hay brings my mind in all sorts of different directions.

  3. I also notice just how many red barns there are out there… though, as SpiritKeepers says, in North America, they are usually made of wood…

  4. In my country at the small farms, the hay is kept just in a haystack and cover on the top or just in the same place (woodshed) where the cows/horses are kept in the winter into an open space like an attic.

  5. It is true that most barns here are wood – in fact I’ve never seen a metal sided barn (I’ve seen metal roofed but not sided). In fact reclaiming barn boards and using them for everything from furniture to accent walls to clocks is a very big business here http://www.barnboardstore.com/ No barn goes unloved. Ha!

      1. I live in the city so i don’t see many barns unless I go out to the country side. I remember when barn dances were popular but I haven’t heard of one for a while now. They may be still happening in some rural areas but we are a big hockey country and that means arenas and they inevitably have areas for dances and parties available either in the arena or attached to the arena. There are hockey arenas even in most rural areas. So,in our province – Ontario – there are 13.6 million people and over 1000 arenas (I counted the list). that’s an arena for every 13,600 people.

        1. Paul, that’s an amazing statistic about the arenas. We have Gaelic Games fields in every little village here but the ‘clubhouses/halls’ certainly wouldn’t be classed as ‘arenas,’ except in a handful of places.

  6. I love barns! Who, growing up amidst them, or never having seen one, could not love a big ole barn? So utilitarian, and yet so full of surprises–like the hens’ eggs in the hay in Mama and Papa’s wooden barn with the wooden shingles for a roof, the delicate footwork needed to scoop oats out of the bin for the horses without triggering a grain-slide, and yes, the stacks of rectangular bales of hay that one strong man could heft. My father’s barn on the other hand, both his hay barn (painted the necessary red), and all his other barns, are corrugated tin, but the rest are unpainted, which was usually the reason for using tin and not wood–less maintenance.

    1. Andrea, these red ones are of a particular time ~ my sort of era ~ and they still dot the landscape. The newer ones tend to be stronger and often less vibrant colours.

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