Last Christmas, I spotted a notice in the window of the Irish Examiner advertising Unique Gifts. I was definitely not in agreement – if it can be repeated, can it be unique? I still believe that unique means a one-off, not repeated previously or repeatable in the future.
Working in construction, it is rare than one will see something novel. Every material and component now needs certification. Such certification process costs money and so it does not encourage bespoke, unique or special components. There are some, but they are rare.
The uniformity of construction materials falls in step with this age of mass production – this age when the new buildings and even a street in Cork city could be uprooted to or from many English cities. There are many chainstores selling the same products as in Birmingham or Manchester, quite likely in a building that is so similar to the new street or buildings in Cork.
It is as if we are reverting to restricted choice, back to the days of Henry Ford – any colour you want so long as it’s black.
I have a recollection of hearing a radio piece many years ago where the design by Frank Murphy of the Church of All Saints in Drimoleague in 1956 was complimented – quite possibly Alf McCarhy & Gerard Kennedy, but I cannot find online now. A few weeks back, I travelled to the church to photograph the plaque by Seamus Murphy. I did not expect to be there long.
I was there quite a while, appreciating what I saw.
I then remembered the radio documentary. I loved almost every detail and the choice of materials.
It is regularly mentioned on building sites that some issue does not matter as it will be covered by the plaster. Frank Murphy did not have that luxury as there was no plaster – at least not until they (subsequently, I presume) added a toilet block.
The finish on the blocks with quartz -like exposed aggregate is definitely not widely available. I suspect that the blocks and the special shaped blocks at window reveals were manufactured specifically for this project. The external blocks are different to the internal blocks.
This morning’s update from Stair na hÉireann advised that on this day in 1975, Seamus Murphy died.
His work has prompted quite a number of blogs here before.
I have yet to upload and create a separate section of the work that I have photographed on my travels.
For now and for today, a slideshow of a selection of his work.
‘I have made a magic study of the good thing that eludes nobody.’ – Arthur Rimbaud
To Find Out More List
The three books have provided little bits of knowledge about so many things that I need to find out more (ever connecting).
I have enjoyed a pint in The Blue Bull in Sneem. It was Éamon Kelly who educated that The Blue Bull was a Synge Play.
I will need to return to Gneeveguilla to photograph the plaque to Mick Sullivan who was shot by Black & Tans while Éamon Kelly was in the adjacent school – the list of Civil War and War of Independence memorials ever growing.
There are many traditions that intrigued, sounded lovely or just demanded further exploring – families joined in butter; overnight fasting prior to receiving Holy Communion; family owning a church pew so those standing at back did not have funds to purchase and pay rent on pew; stopping the clock upon a death, as seen in Jean deFlorette; and the giving of a disease to another similar to leaving cloth on a rag tree at a Holy Well.
It also introduced words to me, many appear derived for Irish. These will keep me going for some time. The list is below but any education as to ‘gripe’; ‘hoult’; ‘fakah’;or, ‘roiseters’ would be welcome.
A Visit To The Theatre
This week I spotted that Jack Healy had a play based upon the stories of Éamon Kelly at The Cork Arts Theatre on Camden Quay.
Yesterday lunchtime was a magnificent hour spent listening, smiling, laughing and remembering.
More than halfway through the show, I was reminded as to one of my flysheet notes in The Journeyman. There had been quite a few different stories. Éamon Kelly in The Journeyman was writing of ‘In My Father’s Time’ – ‘We found that a number of stories told one after the other could sound episodic. There had to be a changing relationship between the pieces, and the links had to be carefully thought out to make seamless the fabric, which we hoped would be colourful and entertaining’.
My flysheet note was that the book, unlike The Apprentice which I found much more interesting, was failing to flow. Fair play to Jack Healy. With the benefit of reflection on my hour or so in the auditorium, the different aspects and stories flowed; and, the knitting of the stories was brilliant and of a manner that brought the occasion up to date.
I had heard or read of a few of the stories but the delivery, verbally and with actions, made them a new experience – I laughed even when I knew the punchline.
It is in the Cork Arts Theatre only until tomorrow night but is intended to travel later in the year.
I do recommend.
I have long liked the idea of incorporating salvage material into new work.
Building materials from times past regularly were strong enough to last many lifetimes and had individual details that we do not get with current standardisation. I have managed to source one of the hoopers than I sought but I passed on the spiral stairs. The telephone box as a feature in the garden remains a dream.
A few weeks back, with the train departure a while away, I walked to Hueston and was very happy to spot this commemorative piece to Dave Conway.
Trying to find out about it did involve a few internet dead ends before I learned that Dave Conway was Demolition Manager involved in the LUAS project and the Railway Procurement Agency commissioned James Gannon to create a sculpted piece at Smithfield.
Does it not scream out to be caressed? Or is that just my sense of admiration?
We spotted this outside Lime Street Station in Liverpool.
There were a good number of paving slabs with similar engravings.
I assume that they are computerised/automated engravings from original sketches.
I do like the image as well as the inclusion of co-ordinates. Anything that makes a streetscape, building or place unique is good in my opinion.
Compliance with regulations and need to meet CE, or I.S./B.S standards are such that I believe they are encouraging a small number of manufacturers and a smaller range of products in all construction materials.
It could be argued that shopping centres and main streets are similarly affected with stores from the same chains occupying the centres of cities - each city turning into a version of the other.
I am definitely fed up with standardisation. I have long since determined to support to support the local independent over the branch of the chain.
These paving slabs are just another reminder as to the value of difference and being unique.
I read of proposals for art on the pavings in The Liberties in Dublin, and smiled. Well done, The Liberties.
Last Wednesday, the daily update from Stair na hÉireann advised that on 27 April, 1911 the ‘first ever Irish musical comedy, The Irish Girl, written by Percy French and Dr. W. Houston Collisson, is staged at the Queen’s Theatre, Dublin’.
It reminded me of this plaque in Dromcollogher, Co. Limerick that I had only seen days previously.
I hadn’t heard of either ‘The Irish Girl’or ‘have yez been to Dromcolliher’ previously – still learning from the signs
I cycled past this house last night. This morning the name appeared on my computer screen. More than enough reason for a blog – even just to add to what was mentioned before.
I was reading today’s update from Stair na hÉireann as to what happened on this day in history and they mentioned that Katherine Cecil Thurston (née Madden) was born in Cork on this day, in 1875.
This name was new to me and I wondered as to whether there was a plaque to her somewhere.
My web searching treated me like a nail, hitting me straight with the comment that ‘often forgotten today, was a highly popular and successful writer of short stories and novels at the beginning of the twentieth century’. She ‘had two books simultaneously on the New York Times best seller list in 1905, the first time any author had achieved such a feat’.
It revealed that she was born at Woods Gift in 1875. She died of asphyxia in her hotel room at 13 Morrisons Island, also in Cork city, in 1911, one month before she was due to remarry.
I suspect that I will be requesting a book from the City Library – to find out more. Even a walk through St Joseph’s Cemetery might be prompted.
A few years ago this would just have been another statue on display in St. Stephen’s Green.
Having learnt from signs about the sculptor Jerome Connor from Annascaul, Co. Kerry and a small bit about Robert Emmet, I did appreciate the sculpture a small bit more.
It was made 100 years ago – obviously the Easter Rising was not the only thing that happened that year.
The few minutes in St Stephen’s Green yesterday looking and touching did allow the centenary overload to be forgotten for just a while.
For Christmas, I received a copy of Séamus Murphy, Sculptor – a lovely book with details of the work of Séamus Murphy. I realised that I had photographed many of the headstones and sculptures already. They had been the source of quite a few blog posts already.
The book is now being used as a route map to photograph the work on public display that I have not yet photographed – expect a dedicated Séamus Murphy section soon.
The book includes photographs of designs by Séamus Murphy from 1941 for a competition for the then proposed Dept. of Industry & Commerce building on Kildare Street. The designs were shortlisted.
In Dublin earlier, I walked along Kildare Street to appreciate the winning design by Gabriel Hayes.
I left wondering why modern buildings do not incorporate sculpture or other art. There are very few that I can remember in recent buildings.
I hope that there will be more – curtain walling glazing could do with something else for variety.
Blogs I Read & Links
Thought & Comment
For the Fainthearted
Bock The Robber
140 characters is usually enough
That’s How The Light Gets In
Tea and a Peach
Buildings & Things Past
Come Here To Me
Pilgrimage in Medieval Ireland
The Irish Aesthete
Ireland in History Day By Day
Buildings of Ireland
Irish War Memorials
The Standing Stone
Time Travel Ireland
Stair na hÉireann
Wide & Convenient Streets
The Irish Story
Our City, Our Town
West Cork History
Cork’s War of Independence
Cork Historical Records
Rebel Cork’s Fighting Story
40 Shades of Life in Cork