taken from: Steve Edwards’ website
Mysteries of the Irish House

Taps (faucets)
The bathroom taps are separate, hot on the left and cold on the right. It’s awkward if you just want to wash your hands, or splash your face with warm water. You have to be clever — or work harder…. It would be easy to send both hot and cold through the same tap — to mix them after they pass through the valves. They do that in the kitchen. Why not in the bathroom? Tradition, nothing more.*

Light-switches
• The lightswitches are “on” when the button is pressed bottom-side in.
• If a set of two light-switches are placed on a panel outside a room, the switch furthest from the room usually works for that room’s light.
• A lightswitch outside of a bathroom seems like a bad idea. Sure, it’s easier — for everybody, including the mischievous.

Doors
• Door handles are rather sharp levers, which can easily stick into the pocket of upper-body wear and catch in one’s cuff. They look good, and they open a door with an easy downstroke. But they are hazardous to clothing.
• Internal doors are still built with skeleton-key locks.

Shower
It seems that few Irish houses have a good shower. Of the older houses, none were fitted with anything like a normal water heater. The Irish counterpart is the old “immersion,” and these are common. An immersion is an electric water heater that you have to turn on, a while before use — and of course remember to turn off afterwards. The alternative is the electric shower heater, which heats on demand. They’re loud, sometimes hard to adjust, and the temperature can fluctuate.

And nowhere on this side of the Atlantic have I experience real water-pressure such as you’d find in America.

Skirting (baseboards)
The skirting* at the base of a wall in the Irish house is normally applied as part of the general construction, before the upper flooring surface is placed.

In many cultures, a principal function of skirting is to close the gap where flooring does not reach the wall.

Whether linoleum, laminate, or proper wood, the surface of a floor will inevitably come slightly short of the wall. A great craftsman can make the difference negligible — but cannot prevent it. An average craftsman will leave a gap that you can measure. This gap, whether considered hygienically or esthetically, is unattractive.

When a skirting is already in place, and flush with the concrete or wooden base-floor, there are two options for this gap — you can live with it, or place another molded wooden strip along the edge. This wooden strip, or “beading,” performs one of the functions for which, elsewhere, skirting is intended.

(Check his site)

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* I did a bit of work in Irish houses for several years, before the economy collapsed and construction stopped. In the normal residence built in the last few years, the taps in the bathroom are separated cold and hot, even though the kitchen fittings mix the two inputs before output.

Some defend this kind of outfitting with a kind of “why-don’t-you-just” logic, which presumes (in a mind-numbingly conservative fashion) that if you can make it work it’s as good as it needs to be. Fill the sink, they say, if you need warm water.

Of course, that implies the need to keep the bowl of the sink abnormally clean — an extra amount of work just to remain prepared to do the extra work** of plugging the thing and filling it (*if* you even still have a plug.)

And, yes, if you normally wash your hands after using the toilet, the sink becomes quickly too soiled to use as a washing/shaving basin.

The practice of installing such fixtures is illogical and based only upon tradition.

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** I’ve only ever lived with one Irish man who did housework. He turned out to be a prick. I’ve liked every other one of my Irish housemates — but the men generally do not do housework.

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