Tradisiún a Chaomhnú – an teanga, an cultúr agus na healaíona

This thesis investigates the role that architecture has or can have in preserving cultural ideas that strengthen our expression and sense of identity. When thinking about our féiniúlacht, who we are, we often think of our mother-tongue and the heritage of ceol, scéalaíocht, filíocht, and béaloideas. It is our language that evokes a sense of place, Béal Bán, the white mouth, Cloichear, a place of stones or An Daingean, the fort.

My area of interest lies on the Dingle Peninsula, Corca Dhuibhne, the Gaeltacht where I grew up. This place where my identity is rooted. A place that has provided me with a connection and moulded my understanding of what the essence of Irish people is and has been for generations. In Dingle town, there’s a building which provoked an interest within me. An art deco façade amongst the patchwork of coloured townhouses in the fishing town. The Phoenix Cinema, one of the last old Irish cinemas of its kind which was, until recently, a space for people to gather and experience an interpretation of culture from around the world.

I will be taking the typology of the Old Irish Cinema as an existing infrastructure that lies empty within many towns scattered across our island and look to repurpose these spaces that once acted as cultural hearths within our communities. Initially, these were places of film, of dance, of music and of interaction. We must reignite these spaces to allow them to be places of cultural importance once again. A place where language, song, dance, and lore can thrive, where culture can flourish once more. 

A place to house Irish Identity

The Hermits Retreat

This thesis aimed to explore the use of narrative design in the region of Lecale in Co. Down. Off the coast of Ballyhornan lies a tidal piece of land, Guns Island, draped in history and mythology. I used the hermit of Guns Island as a design tool to explore the importance of narrative within architecture.

Using a story to communicate ideas presents a clear and rational method of individual experiences and how we understand our conditions. Framing design proposals as a narrative shows a perspective to clients and the public, as we all understand the importance of storytelling and its value. People may not understand design concepts, but they do understand stories. Rebecca Solnit professed that “Stories are compasses and architecture, we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world”. Storytelling adds meaning where design cannot. Though drawings and a finished design show what can be done in the real world, narrative design shows process and progress, giving design structure.

The hermit’s story on Guns Island helped solidify the potential for new users to inhabit the island. The hermit’s philosophy is integral to his character. The folklore of his life on the island gives the island character that needs to be respected.

Through a narrative design lens, we can create suitable accommodation on an island, respecting the history and philosophy of the hermit’s way of living. The narrative helps influence the design’s form, technology and spatial qualities.

Living with Machines

Approximately one third of the Irish population live in towns, another third in surrounding rural areas. Yet these rural settlements are in a state of crisis fueled by vacancy and inefficacious public spaces; their identities are in urgent need of repair.

Situated in the small town of Tullow, Ireland, this thesis is grounded in the deep-rooted interdependence between this community and its agriculture, addressing the issues of public space, identity and festivity in the contemporary Irish town. Rejecting a romanticisation of the bygone days, and instead focusing on making explicit the inherent identities and existing cultural fabric of local communities. The architecture becomes an honest portrait, driven by a celebration of the everyday.

The project celebrates the ambivalence of contemporary rural living in its many dualities, combining the town’s seasonal grain drying industry with a town hall and public space. Reimagining the role of the town square in contemporary communities, the existing market square and the new Grain Square are conceived as a pair of unidentical twins. They serve distinct and complementary roles for the town, threading together a sequence of pedestrianized rooms connecting the town’s heart to its hinterland. The Grain Square acts as the interface between the everyday routines of townlife and the workaday rituals of modern farming. Unfolding against the backdrop of the evolving tones, forms and textures of a local agrarian calendar, they serve to mend the fractured identity of this contemporary town.