Gollachy Ice House was built in the early 19th century to store ice for packing salmon caught locally. It served a nearby beach salmon fishing station which was abandoned in the 1960s. Fish would be caught, cleaned and processed, and then packed in ice to be transported to markets in London, the Netherlands and France.
But this is a very unusual and unique ice house, being free-standing, rather than built into a bank, and with a piended roof, rather than gabled. This view below shows the building from the south east. As can be seen, at first glance it looks like a small cottage, but it is windowless. The turf on the roof covers a vault, to reduce heat loss. Inside the ice house, steps descend from the doorway to an ante-room (the cool chamber) and then a further doorway leads to a single chambered vaulted ice house. More information here.
Gollachy Ice House - in earlier times.
What is An Ice House?
The ice house was introduced to Britain around 1660. Various types and designs of ice house exist but British ice houses were commonly brick-lined, domed with most of their volume underground. Ice houses varied in design depending on the date and builder, but were usually conical or rounded at the bottom to hold melted ice.
They usually had a drain to take away the melt-water. It is recorded that the idea for ice houses was brought to Britain by travellers who had seen similar arrangements in Italy, where peasants collected ice from the mountains and used it to keep food fresh inside caves. Ice houses were also known as ice wells, ice pits or ice mounds. Game larders and venison larders were sometimes marked on Ordnance Survey maps as ice houses.
Ice was often imported into the UK from Scandinavia until the 1920s, although from around 1900 the import of ice declined sharply due to the development of factories in the UK where ice was made artificially. Usually, only large mansions had purpose-built buildings to store ice. Many examples of ice houses exist in the UK, some of which have fallen into disrepair.