A woman living in a town in Ireland in 1500 would probably live in a narrow timber or wattle house roofed with thatch in a narrow street. The family kept pigs and fowl in sheds in their long narrow back garden and there they threw rubbish, grew vegetables and herbs and sometimes drew water from a well. In pre-industrial Ireland, most businesses were family-centred. Business or trade was carried on in the front section of the home and the family lived behind or over the shop.
The few towns that existed in Ireland in 1500 were still medieval in character and mostly on the coast, near the mouths of rivers or inland on navigable rivers. Few original town buildings have survived in their original form except for churches and the occasional house built of stone such as Rothe House, Kilkenny. Urban people were generally loyal to England and the 'native' Irish were often confined to 'Irishtown', a settlement outside the walls.
Towns needed farm produce which was brought in to fairs and markets from the surrounding countryside but movement in and out was controlled by walls and gates. The streets were often described as open sewers, smelly and filthy with wet and dry rubbish. Crime was punished in public with floggings and executions. Fire was a hazard, so it was the custom to rise at daylight and observe a curfew by going to bed at sunset.