So imagine the confusion for Irish folk who travelled to foreign shores, where they found the tables turned - quite literally. For while we traditionally viewed the table as a place of employment (whether to eat or for some other activity) many European countries considered the table to be the social centre. Pity poor 18th-century Paddy imprisoned in his chair, trying to be polite by not glancing longingly at the fire going to waste in the background.
At least he could console himself with the knowledge that a fire would still be burning when he got home. For a fire was never allowed go out, being kept alive under the ashes to be revived first thing in the morning. Making all the more poignant a story about an old lady who moved into a new-build. For despite its conveniences and comforts, she nevertheless lamented that the fire, which had burned for 330 years in her old homestead, was now extinguished forever.