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Flatley drying cabinet, late 1960s

Traditional kitchen layouts were slow to change throughout the 1950s and 1960s, with the gas range still going strong and fitted kitchens only becoming widespread in the 1970s. The advent of hire purchase from the ESB and department stores allowed women to purchase freestanding washing machines and refrigerators at affordable rates. The larger appliances, such as this Flatley dryer, were sometimes bought as a gift or with an inheritance, often from older female relatives.
The Flatley drying cabinet was invented by Andrew James Flatley, and they were manufactured in Manchester until 1960, when production moved to Bantry in County Cork. It was a metal cabinet holding a set of removable wooden rods, with an electric heating element at the bottom, usually covered with wire mesh. Small items of washing, such as nappies and children’s clothes, could be hung on these rods. The cabinet could then be plugged in and the clothes dried in a consistent amount of time, which didn’t depend on the unreliable Irish weather.

Listen to Mary Ann Egan talking about the difference a gift of a Flatley dryer made to her daily life with four young children in nappies:
Mary Ann Egan interviewed by Lynda Dunne in Athlone, October 2017


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