Architecture and leprechauns

By Katherine Madden

Ireland is a wonderful part of the world, best known for its unbeatable pint of Guinness and artistic talents. However less well known is its unique mix of Architecture. Ireland's cultural backdrop has inspired a long standing history of elegant and innovative architectural responses to people and place. Buildings are very important to the Irish culture and I should know, hailing from its green pastures! Because of the nature of the climate, habitat and shelter are key - unlike Melbourne, you can have several seasons in one day, rather than just the four!!

Early Irish Architecture was a very simple affair. Stone cottages form part of the early Irish vernacular. They are representative of a time when dwellings used local materials of stone and thatch. It is testamount to the nature of building in the day, that some of these cottages still stand today.


Typical Irish cottage courtesy of

The Second World War and its aftermath heralded a new period for design in Ireland. Eileen Gray was one of Ireland's most famous female modernist Architects and furniture designer. Michael Scott is responsible for some of Ireland's most long standing modernist buildings, some of which are now heritage listed.

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Irish Pavilion Building, by Michael Scott, Scott Tallon Walker (1939)


Córas Iompair Éireann's Headquarters Building, Busaras by Michael Scott, Scott Tallon Walker (1953)

The creativity and beauty of Irish Architecture has not waned over the years. Nowadays younger Architects take inspiration from the past, present and future to design habitats that are responsive, resourceful and intimate. Practices such as Bucholz McEvoy, Grafton Architects, Boyd Cody Architects, De Paor Architects, ODOS to name but a few, represent a breed of Architects who put quality and design at the fore front of what they do. Their buildings sit in harmony with the traditional and the old and enhance the texture woven through fabric of the Irish city, town and rural land.

Grafton Temple Bar

Temple Bar Square, Grafton Architects (1991)

This building creates the backbone to Temple Bar Square, bang in the heart of Temple Bar, Dublin's medieval quarter, which is now a cultural hotbed of galleries, bars and restaurants on the edge of the liffey.

Buckholz McEvoy Fingal CC

Fingal County Council Offices by Bucholz McEvoy Architects(1996)

This project broke new ground in terms of the possibilities for sustainable design within the public sector, using natural ventilation, optimised daylighting and a holistic approach to building energy management systems. The project has received numerous awards and was recently nominated for an RIAI Gold Medal.

Buckholz McEvoy Leinster House pavillion

Leinster House Pavilion by Bucholz McEvoy Architects(2001)

De Paor Clontarf Pumphouse

Pumphouse by Tom De Paor Architects (2003)

This beautiful and sculptural response to a sewage pump house is typical of the new wave of young architects strutting their stuff and shaking off the stunted architecture of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Boyd Coady Kitchen Party wall ODOS Ballymahon Farmhouse MurrayOLaoire GMIT Library

Boyd Coady Architects                  ODOS                                                                             Murray O'Laoire

With the current economic difficulties Ireland is facing, the next few years for Irish Architecture will only serve to shape it in a whole new direction.

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