Mammy had ‘folding doors’ that didn’t!
In my parent’s house there were many rooms, some with more than one door.
The busiest two rooms on the ground floor were the kitchen and the dining room.
Today I am focusing on the latter.
The dining room was a very lived in room. It was warmed by a crackling fire, the food, the banter and laughter of all who spent time there. Breakfast was the quietest meal with the muffled voices of the sleepy eaters at the table as daddy listened to the morning news on the Radio
With eight pairs of long legs (when we were small in number) the dining table was always extended for our meals, there was no hope of feeding all of us round the rectangular enamel topped kitchen table. When numbers swelled the kitchen table was carried to the dining room to extend the table even further. On occasions a small low table was set for the little people allowing all the adults to sit round the large table/s.
The dining room had three doors:
- The door from the hall which was at a ninety degree angle to the door to the kitchen,
- The French windows to the garden and opposite them
- The folding doors opened to the Sitting room as we called it, others might call it a lounge or living room.
In summertime the folding doors and the French windows were always open, extending the room out into the garden. In wintertime the French windows remained locked but the folding doors were opened to double the size of the space with fires brightly burning in both rooms.
The house regularly overflowed with visitors, those invited and expected or those who happened to call in, stay to share our meals or to stay overnight or for a weekend. Nobody was turned away and mammy regularly relived the ‘loaves and fishes’ to extend the food for all the visitors. Nobody ever left the house hungry.
On Christmas morning the folding doors were locked when sleepy little people came down the stairs, prepared to head out fasting in the winter darkness to 6 a.m. Mass a car journey away.
On our return, we little people were packed off upstairs to hang up our coats, go to the loo and wash our hands… Once we were out of sight and busy, mammy pushed on the sitting room door from the hall (to remove the chair she had set against it the night before) to gain entrance to the wonderland inside. She switched on the colourful fairy tree-lights and put a match to the already prepared fire in the grate. When all was done she slipped out the now unblocked door closing it gently behind her, to begin cooking breakfast for the hungry hoard. The table had been set for the meal in the early hours of the morning.
Once the little people returned to the ground floor we gathered in the dining room around the crib as a family to say a prayer of welcome to the baby Jesus. Then we lined up at the folding doors. Youngest first and then the rest of us by age to the eldest with daddy standing like a sentry with hand raised to the sliding locks at the top of the doors ready to unlock them.
Then the doors opened…
Sliding sideways into the stud wall cavity on either side, turning the two rooms into one.
Where mammy got the term ‘Folding doors’ we never discovered, but they were and to this day, my sister (who still lives in the house) calls them the folding doors.