Discovering Dublin: Dining al Fresco! (6/)

The zone of town around Grafton Street is ripe for pedestrianization. Right now, Dublin City Council is testing the use of street space for people rather than car occupation. Aongus and I are delighted to support that test!

It’s lovely to be in this quarter when you’re safe from cars, as we discovered during the height of lockdown:

Since lockdown started in mid-March, Aongus and I had gone months with no meals out.

We pretty much waiting until the government opened the country for internal travel to start eating out.

Awakening for coffee

By June 21, it was finally time for our first sit-down coffee in Dublin since lock-down.

We sought out a little pop-up container shop at St. James’s Gate, based on a Twitter recommendation from Ciran Cuff. I wanted to support the use of this greyfield site (location of a former gas station), in the hopes the land gets assigned a greener use in the future than petrol sales.

They’re using a shipping container to house the shop itself, and they provide outdoor picnic tables in the back. It was an ideal first stop for the day’s in-town cycling adventure on the southside of the city.

Such a joy to be outside!

First Dinner Out, Post-Lockdown

Later that day, on June 21st (and well after the 20km zone opened), we were overjoyed to find a street-side pizzeria offering a couple of sidewalk tables. They had gotten their Guinness tap up and running earlier that day, and we got to sit down and enjoy pizza and a pint in true Irish-Italian style!

We’re delighted that Dublin is re-awakening and we hope to see more street-side dining. Yet, we hadn’t eaten out again here in Dublin until today, August 1st. We have gotten so accustomed to cooking and eating at home, except when we’re venturing far from home.

Instead of traveling far outside of Dublin over the bank holiday weekend, we stayed here in Dublin. We stayed in town for a few reasons: (1) Hotel reservations outside Dublin were somewhat hard to come by for this three day weekend, and quite pricey. (2) We wanted to show support for the pedestrianization trials going on in Dublin over four weekends. (3) We exhausted ourselves the weekend prior by cycling 50 km in one day during variable Irish weather. (4) Aongus is studying for a big test–cramming a three-year degree into four months.

The pedestrian experience of Dublin town did not disappoint!

We really enjoyed the car-free areas. Dublin City Council is still allowing the flow of traffic (heavy traffic at that) into and out of the multi-story parking garages in the town center. But they put people in place during these trials to direct the automobile drivers and help with “traffic calming,” so it’s not the wild-west free-for-all of drivers heading into these garages that has become the norm.

I’m baffled that so many drivers disregard pedestrians in these areas most days. It’s clearly a pedestrian-centric area but drivers barrel on through and expect pedestrians to scatter in their wake.

Last Saturday, we shopped at the ILAC center and wandered the walkable streets, Henry, Grafton and surrounds.

We looked for a pleasant place to sit outside and eat. We found ample selection and couldn’t decide on just one… so we ate twice. Yep, back to back.

Tables in the Street!

We had our first encounter with “Sole,” which opened while we were living in London. They’re part of the pedestrianization trials and are providing really pleasant and visually pleasing on-street dining on weekends. The manager said they were getting permission to double the size of the on-street area the following weekend.

We each ordered a steak and blue cheese salad. Amazing!

There were little bowls with–mints?–on the table when we arrived. Seemed odd, as mints usually come after food. But the waiter showed up with a pitcher and poured water over them. They were actually little cloths for freshening up!

The deserts our neighboring diners ordered looked fabulous too, but we decided to eat light for lunch and to enjoy an early dinner at another place.

Oh, and I wanted to add that the interior design of Sole was pretty spectacular as well. We’ll be back! Soon!

After some shopping, then lounging in Steven’s Green and watching the people swirl past, we sauntered down Anne Street, where the businesses have been keen to pedestrianize. News reports say the Council raised the sideway in the fenced-in areas shown below over the past week. Hoping to get out later today and see for myself.

Around Anne Street, we found a few moment that reminded of us London and one of the neighborhoods where we lived while we were there: Shoreditch E2.

A bit later, we headed over to the street-side tables at Salamanca. A couple tapas and an order of churros hit the spot!

Incidentally, the people watching from this street-side table was second to none!

We cycled home. I got too far ahead when Aongus got hung behind a traffic light. So I stopped to admire the architecture. New design aside old, with interesting colors and textures everywhere you look.

So in closing, Aongus and I are asking, begging, Dublin City Council to keep these streets pedestrianized and to encourage businesses to place more tables and chairs outside. Everyone deserves the chance to try the outside seating and find out just how enjoyable it can be. If we can’t go to Italy, we can at least have a slice of Italy here!

Yet, we see the pictures from Cork and realize that what’s in place in Dublin right now is only just a start. We’ve enjoyed outside dining in countries with Ireland’s climate and we *know* it works.

Thanks, Dublin City Council, for the great work you’ve done since March to improve quality of life in our city and keeping the air and the surrounding clean and healthy. We applaud what you’ve been doing and we yearn for more. What a fabulous transformation this can be!

Discovering Dublin: Phoenix Park in Isolation (2/)

Aongus and I hadn’t spent much time in Dublin’s very large urban park prior to Covid-19. We were, afterall, just returning to Dublin after two years in London.

Our last days in London for Christmas 2019, ending my two-year fellowship and heading home to Dublin.

I’d moved back at the start of January and got things organized. Aongus followed on February 5th. Luckily, I already settled back into the flat and gotten things arranged nicely when he touched down on the Irish tarmac–a full month before isolation set in.

A couple days after Aongus’ return, things got very busy for me at TU Dublin. I was appointed to Chair and launch a new degree program. We held the induction on February 14. We were four weeks into conducting modules that when the pandemic hit and campus buildings shut down. From then on, work was all from home.

When the Irish government asked us to keep inside a 2-kilometer radius from our homes, and only venture out for necessary purchases and daily exercise, I pulled out a map on the “2kmfromhome” app and very happily discovered the entry to Phoenix Park fell within our allowable zone. I loaded the radius map as my phone’s wallpaper for easy reference–that made Aongus feel a bit claustrophobic! He’s not used to such a small bubble. His parents, aunts and siblings live outside it. Sadly, he couldn’t see his parents anyway, as they live in a nursing home. There have been very few visits. His dad had symptoms of Covid but tested negative. His mom had no symptoms but tested positive–go figure. Both are doing fine, but lacking visits has really taken a toll on his dad, who is fully aware of what’s going on.

Considering the radius, I wasn’t quite sure where entering the park alone would get us. During an online School meeting, which we held weekly for months until summer break officially started, I mentioned in the chat box that we had the entrance to Phoenix Park in our allotted circle. A colleague said, oh how lucky! A friend of hers had the same situation. Catherine said it meant we could use the Park in full, as long as we were carrying verification of our address.

To me that made logical sense–afterall, the masses of Dublin living near the Park we couldn’t all stand in the first hundred feet of the entry gate.

And thus began…

Our love affair with Phoenix Park

Soon we cycled to the park using Dublin Bikes, with a picnic of left-overs in hand for sustenance.

That first day we didn’t make it too far, but on our next trip we discovered the expansive views of the field at the Pope’s Cross, with amazing views over the city of Dublin toward the Dublin Mountains.

Park it, Deer…

We also discovered the deer of Dublin, so calm and tame.

The deer cluster by gender–doe and children together, and bucks in their own groups. In the forested area shown at the top of this blog (with the nifty leg warmers, a gift from ‘me mum’), we once saw an organized lesson in being a male deer underway. There were three sets of young males with antlers joined, play wrestling, and one more deer–who appeared to be the coach. We didn’t get a photo that day, as we weren’t allowed by the Park Rangers to stop to observe. By loud speaker they announced “Keep moving. You’re here for exercise!” or something of that sort. They weren’t messin’ that day–taking no shite….

Fortunately, over time, the sense of panic and urgency has subsided. If you leave the deer be and avoid crowds, you’ll be okay. It is usually easy enough to stumble on crows if you don’t move far for the entry at Parkgate Street.

…and chill

The deer have really loved having the park free of cars–the park is so large that motorists have typically used it as a cut-through, taking their cars at high speeds to get to the other side without much regard for pedestrians and cyclists, families and children. High-speed and rude drivers in the park, along with the poor quality of the pavement in the cycle lane leading into and out of the park, had previously discouraged me from cycling there.

I had, however, cycled to the US Ambassador’s Residence once to hear a NASA astronaut speak at a Fulbright Ireland event. There’s a sizable slope going into the park that takes some determination to climb. I felt so unwelcome by the hill and the rough pavement of the cycle lane going in (the car pavement is nice and smooth here), that I had avoided this park in the interim. I hoped–and still do–that they will repave the cycle lanes near Park Gate. Can’t imagine what has kept that simple act from happening.

This is the back side of the US Ambassador’s Residence. It faces south, toward the Dublin mountains and the Pope’s Cross. (See, nifty leg warmers!)

Although we’d enjoyed our Dublin Bike adventure that first day, but realized we’d need our own bikes. My own had been stolen from my courtyard some years before, but our maintenance guy gave me a discarded bike as a replacement. I’d parked it on the balcony, but hadn’t much luck using it. Mostly, I needed a more comfortable saddle.

So, in March, I was quite pleased to discover that Pavlov at Bolton Bikes could get it back up and running. It’s heavy and I have to baby the gears, but it works and it has been nice and reliable. Bolton Bikes repairs and also sells used bikes. We were very fortunate to buy one for Aongus that suits him incredibly well. Neither of our bikes is a magnet for thieves, which is fortunate since rates of bicycle theft are off the charts right now in Dublin.

I didn’t even report the earlier theft–really no reason since the police don’t really investigate.

Our bikes have worked out fine. They really serve us well and we are learning to love them and the freedom they provide.

…enjoy a scenic overlook

On our second or third visit to the park, we found the far end, to the west, had the fewest people. We’d ride out there and eat a quick snack, tea, or sandwich before cycling back home.

Ireland had an amazing streak of glorious weather, in March and April. Perfect like this for several weeks. We discovered this stunning view at the far end of the park, and reaching it became a regular goal:

…and a quiet little pond

Over time, we ventured into the gated area around the pond. The water lilies were delightful; my photos haven’t done them justice.

Aongus enjoyed feeding crumbs to the ducks and geese.

Just be yourself!

As the weeks progressed this corner of the park remained sparsely attended. We encountered very few people and were even able to curl up with a book on occasion. Wild and free and happy as can be….

(…but not in America!)

Speaking of America, I felt safe enough in Phoenix Park to attend the very first Dublin-based rally in support of Black Lives Matter.

Stand up for what you believe…

I elected to attend the #BLM rally in Phoenix Park, as I believed there would be ample room for social distancing. This location meant participants weren’t likely to get hemmed in as I feared would happen near the American Embassy. My assumptions were correct.

There was plenty of space where we assembled at the driveway entrance to the Ambassador’s Residence. There was also plenty space as we processed slowly around the property in a long single-file line, and one the rear/southside of the house where we knelt for a minute of silence. Any groups were households that arrived together. Many couples and a few families, and many brave individuals as we did not know what to expect. I saw this advertised on Twitter, with two locations available so everyone could stay in their allowable zone (which, by this time was 5km, I believe).

In any case, I was glad to be able to do *something* to support the #BLM cause, and to achieve that without violating any rules. It was a very small thing, but I had to make a stand for justice and also stand in solidarity with my hundreds and hundreds of Black American friends, colleagues, and former students. And in memory of my honorary grandparents, Bush and Ravella and their daughter Dot. So many people I know and love who had the opposite of a head start in US life simply due to the color of their skin.

Incidentally, a newspaper photographer showed up and took our pictures at this rally, but as there weren’t any juicy scoops to be had, the pics didn’t go viral. Even a telephoto lens couldn’t make this particular crowd look too dense!

All the Guards and Park Rangers who came around expressed sincere support for the cause.

It was a lovely and heartwarming event, and a story you probably didn’t hear on official news outlets.

…just let time drift by.

Since lockdown, I’ve come to know and love Phoenix Park. I truly hope it remains a place that’s safe for families, children, and people of all levels of ability to use safely.

One last set of views out across the Dublin Mountains, daydreaming and soaking in the peace and quiet:

Discovering Dublin: 2/5/20km Southside (5/)

Aongus and I feel so fortunate to live close to the city center. During Ireland’s lockdown, the entire central core fell in our allowable exercise area–a 2km radius from home. We got out and about on weekends, though we sorely missed our gym (1escape, we love you!).

This blog pictures how our world expanded southward as Dublin’s lockdown lifted. Prior posts show the first days of lockdown, isolating at home, our escapades in Phoenix Park and 2/5/20km northward.

Central Dublin, South of the Liffey

The streets of downtown Dublin were particularly tranquil for morning bicycle rides, and the weather blessed us during March and April. We eventually explored all around Temple Bar, Grafton Street, Synge Street, Portobello, and the Liberties.

We normally returned home before sunset. They can be so beautiful when viewed across the Liffey.

Here we’re at South King Street, near the still-asleep Gaiety Theater and St. Steven’s Green:

Docklands

Our cycles brought us through Grand Canal Docks several times, with the Board Gaís Theater, designed by the office of architect Daniel Libeskind.

Ballsbridge

We found Herbert Park in Ballsbridge, which I knew of from Collene Dube’s “100 Days of Walking” Tweets. It’s near Dublin’s big Arena.

Riding out here, I felt that drivers gave me more space when they saw the orange vest. Aongus says it’s probably the style of vest I’ve chosen, which evidently suggests I do maintenance in the social housing complexes of Dublin. Whatever–it works! And yes, my sense of style is surely all my own!

Sandymount

We could only access the inner part of Sandymount in our 5km radius, but we made the most of it and dreamed of cycling even further southward, toward Booterstown, Blackrock village, and Dún Laoghaire in coming weeks.

Here we are playing around at Sandymount Strand:

Seapoint

Low and behold, we discovered the beach at Seapoint as our zone opened to 20km, permitting our ventures toward Dún Laoghaire. It was a bit crowded, but still possible to find the needed distance from others:

Dún Laoghaire

We made it to Dún Laoghaire, with its mega-sized harbor and its vibrant People’s Park. The harbor is so much larger than Howth’s. We always brought a picnic and planned for the lack of bathrooms. Although Howth opened thiers prior to our visits, Dún Laoghaire did not.

We have talked about a cycle out to Dalkey, which is just inside our 20km, but we haven’t made it there yet by bike. Something to look forward to…..

Perils of cycling in Dublin

I cycled to the post office collection point over lunch today, using Dublin Bikes, to fetch a birthday gift. My rear tire hit a wet manhole cover and slid out from under me. My body hit the ground, belly first, flying toward an oncoming car. I stopped 18” short of its tires. The driver didn’t stop or apparently even consider it.

I am a bit bruised and had quite a scare but I’m okay and I’m home now. I might stay in my home office for the rest of the week as this experience was terrifying! I’m kidding of course, but I will stay put until my afternoon research appointment.

At least I discovered I can ask the Post to convey my packages to their local office, across the street from where I work. (The intercom in my flat doesn’t work and won’t be fixed. C’est la vie.)

So it appears I’ve used up another one of my nine lives, and just one day short of my 50th birthday, I’m down to fewer than six lives now. The precise count is unclear, but I definitely squandered one in 1979 when my crazy acrobatic attempt landed me in the hospital. Hopefully the remaining number, whatever it is, will see me safely through the coming 50 years.

Cheers—here’s to a happy but purple-kneed birthday!

Open House Dublin: An architect’s delight

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 6.38.27 PMI have several blogs in my files that I’ve not yet shared. The info below is no longer “news” but it should be interesting and helpful to some, so I’m posting it for you today. Happy holidays!

The Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF) does an outstanding job organizing its annual Open House event. In 2018, they held it October 12–14. Open House spans three days and allows thousands of citizens to visit architectural wonders that are usually not accessible to the public. Over 170 tours and events were open to the public–all for free and most with architects, trained historians, or other experts as guides.

Although this happened six weeks ago, I’m posting it now since I like to have a record of what I’ve seen. I’ve attended five of these Open Houses, I believe, and you can find photos from other years by running a search for “Open House” on this site.

Despite the dreary rain on Saturday the IAF army of volunteers opened sites all across Dublin. Aongus and I benefitted, as lines were shorter. We took advantage of having Aongus’ car to stay dryer and see more sites than we could by foot. This means we visited more outlying areas than I’d originally planned. We normally walk or take Dublin Bikes.

On Sunday the sun came out, but not until after a cold wait for the opening of 14 Henrietta Street. The crowds were fierce on Sunday, and I even encountered a few grouchy folks with a sense of entitlement. I tried to cheerfully point out that the long wait times were due to the popularity and success of the event and that all the people organizing the events and running the sites were volunteering their time. That sense of entitlement is an ugly thing. Putting that aside, I really enjoyed myself and have provided photos of the seven sites I managed to visit.

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 5.43.27 PMBelvedere House

The first site we went to was Belvedere House, which used ot house the boys’ school that was the rival of the one Aongus attended for secondary school. The tour was full, so we actually just saw the lobby in our initial visit, but we returned later and got the tour and more photos.

The House was constructed in 1786 at 6 Denmark St Great, Dublin 1. According to the Open House website, “The construction of what is now Belvedere College began under the 1st Earl of Belvedere, and was later finished and occupied by the 2nd Earl of Belvedere. Built to the designs of architect Robert West, it features the work of renowned stuccodore Michael Stapleton. After the 2nd Earl’s death in 1814, the townhouse was left unoccupied and fell into disrepair. The house was eventually procured by the Society of Jesus Religious Order in 1841 and has since been occupied as part of their educational facility. James Joyce, Austin Clarke, Harry Clarke, Joseph Plunkett, Donagh MacDonagh and Kevin Barry are amongst some of the great past alumni who roamed the corridors and were educated here. RKD Architects were appointed in 2014 by Belvedere College to restore the 18th Century house and one of the most powerful features of the house today is the stucco work in the hall and first floor reception rooms.”

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 5.43.43 PMCroke Park Villas

This is a social housing community with an iconic design that was replicated in many other parts of Dublin. As it is so stylized, it seems to many people to be outdated. This particular set of Villas is being torn down and new housing built. There was a photographic exhibition in one of the flats, documenting families who used to live here. A few of the flats still have residents, who await new homes in the construction underway nearby.

The complex was designed by Daithi P. Hanley and constructed in the 1960s at Sackville Avenue, Ballybough Road, Dublin 3. Open House’s website noted that “In 1956 Dublin Corporation approved a Compulsorily Purchase Order on a series of derelict and condemned cottages in Ballybough in order to construct modern single and duplex flats between Love Lane and Sackville Avenue. Named Croke Villas due to its proximity to the GAA HQ, Croke Park, it was the first stage of an extensive plan to regenerate the Ballybough/North Strand area much of which still bore the scars of the 1941 North Strand Bombings. At present the complex is undergoing renovation and three blocks have been demolished along with a number of derelict cottages on Sackville Avenue. This new development with provide a mix of houses and duplex apartments. The flats were designed by Daithi P. Hanley when he re-joined Dublin Corporation in 1956 as housing Architect. He designed a series of 4 and 5 storey blocks of Flats which used standardised components resulting in significant savings in construction costs and building maintenance of which Croke Villas was part. There were many others of these flats built across the city. Hanley also designed the Garden of Remembrance, Simmonscourt Pavilion, the memorial monument at the Customs House, the Basilica of Our Lady, Knock, among quite a number of interesting projects.As part of Open House 2018 number 45 Croke Villas will be open to the public and will have an exhibition of photographs taken prior to and during the demolition by photographic artist Jeanette Lowe. Number 45 Croke Villas is in the last remaining block of flats, due to be demolished early in 2019. The finished development with form a processional boulevard into the Croke Park Stadium.”

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 5.44.38 PMAsh Street

This project was designed by de Siún Architects and constructed in 2018 at 25 Ash St., Merchants Quay, Dublin 8. Michael de Siún has shown his own home before, very near to this one, and it is an architectural gem. Such clever detailing to make small spaces feel spacious and appealing. I felt that a product Aongus and I had seen at the London Building Centre might be usefully applied to the project, and I forwarded information on it to the architectural design team by email.

The Open House website explains, “The refurbishment of no. 25 Ash St. introduces a double-height light well into a small 100 year old house. The previously tight rooms have been opened up to create a spacious continuous flow from entrance to rear garden. A feature staircase with strong vertical elements emphasizes the connection between the floors. A simple palette of oak, concrete, and brick unite the whole, culminating in an intricate brick façade to the rear of the building.”

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 5.44.52 PMWeaver Park

This city park was designed by Áit Urbanism + Landscape / DCC Parks & Landscape Services and constructed in 2017 on Cork St, in Dublin 8. Despite the rain, we found the park design to be fun and festive. There were even some kids besides Aongus out playing. We rounded off our day with dinner on Camden Street, at Damascus Gate.

According to the Open House website, “Weaver Park represents one of the primary objectives arising from Dublin City Council’s “The Liberties Greening Strategy”. This strategy identified a derelict site, formerly occupied by the Chamber Court Flats, which offered a significant opportunity for the provision of a landmark public amenity. In making the site available for redevelopment, Dublin City Council was responding to the campaigns of local community groups who had long seen the potential in this space. The brief given to Áit Urbanism + Landscape underlined the importance of a participative process that engaged with these local groups, so that the community’s requirements could be understood and delivered through an informed design. Weaver Park is therefore a distillation of the community’s aspirations with inclusivity at its core. The design delivers a hive of activity within a context that will be sylvanic and ecologically functional in time. The fulcrum of the park is a 40-year-old Quercus palustris; this beautiful Oak tree now provides an instant maturity and a new focal point on the Cork Street landscape. It is an icon for the greening of The Liberties.

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 5.46.18 PM14 Henrietta Street

This building was a stately-home-turned-tenement. From housing one wealthy family at its prime, this home eventually held a hundred people at once. I shutter to imagine.

Watching “Call the Midwife” during my subsequent writing retreat gave me a glimpse into what such urban density would have looked like. It’s an excellent series that illustrates history as well as truest loving people. So seldom can I bear to watch television, and particularly Netflix, due to its grim and gritty culture. This show, however, is a true delight despite drawing tears.

Back to the house in Dublin, though, where you can see for yourself most any day by paying an admission fee. For Open House Sunday, entry was free but the tour abbreviated. And there was a line around the block when it opened Sunday morning!

It was originally built in the 1740s at 14 Henrietta Street, Dublin 1. The renovation that has just been opened was designed by Shaffrey Architects. This work converted the house into a museum that now showcases how the spaces would have looked both at the building’s prime and high and when it was packed to the gills. The house is in eyeshot of Linenhall, where my DIT staff office is located and I had a bird’s eye view of the renovations as they progressed. I kept a keen eye as the roof was repaired, a fire stair added, and the brick on rear of the house repointed.

The Open House website provides a detailed description: “Dating from the 1720s, Henrietta Street in Dublin’s North inner city is the most intact collection of early to mid-18th Century houses in Ireland. Built as a townhouse for the elite of Dublin, 14 Henrietta Street was split into tenements in the 1880s as the need for working class housing in Dublin grew, with some 100 people living there by 1911. It remained a tenement house until the last families left in the last 1970s. It’s been a 10-year project for Dublin City Council to rescue, stabilise, conserve and adapt 14 Henrietta Street. The house is the primary artefact of a new museum – the walls, floors, banisters, old gas pipes, fireplaces, and fragments of linoleum and wallpaper have many stories to tell. Shaffrey Architects planned and created new spaces to discretely integrate essential services and fire protection, using wireless technology to minimise loss of finishes and fabric. The tours will showcase the reception, selected rooms, basement and garden area to see the connections between the old and new. This year’s winner for the RIAI Award for Conservation / Restoration and Awarded The Special Jury Award.”

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 5.44.10 PMNew Garda (Police) Headquarters

Designed by the Irish Office of Public Works (OPW) and built in 2017, this build graces the Corner of Kevin St and Bride St, Dublin 8. This building is in the line-of-sight from Kevin Street DIT, where I frequently teach RoboSlam workshops and the RoboSumo design project, with Ted Burke and often Damon Berry and Frank Duignan. I was delighted that one of the architects who worked on this project delivered our tour. He was quite a young lad–leading me to feel a bit aged! (Like a fine wine? Perhaps….)

The Open House website explains, “The new Kevin Street Garda Divisional Headquarters was designed by the OPW. It is designed as a civic quality building responding to the specific site context of its historic surroundings. The building is energy efficient and sustainable with universal access for all. The building is arranged in linear blocks of accommodation either side of an atrium space. It reinstates the street line along Bride Street with a five-storey building opposite the seven-storey National Archive building. The five-storey curved block steps down in a series of steps to become two storey adjacent to the former medieval Archbishops Palace, thereby responding in scale to these important historic buildings. The important Kevin Street junction is acknowledged by expressing the central atrium space on that façade. The public entrance is located at this point. The atrium serves as the main vertical and horizontal circulation space within the building and provides for natural ventilation to all offices along with natural air extraction and allows daylight to penetrate into the building.”

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 5.42.54 PMThe Old Richmond Surgical Hospital

Just one block from my apartment in Dublin, this stately brick building gleams with love and civic pride. Originally designed by Carroll and Batchelor 1901 and built in 1901, The Richmond was refurbished in 2016 by Kavanagh Tuite. It is located near my own flat, at No. 1 North Brunswick St, Dublin 7. This was not my first tour of the building, but I learn new things each time.

The Open House website explains, “The Richmond Education & Event Centre was opened on the 20th April 2018, following an extensive refurbishment, following its purchase by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation in 2013. The building was originally opened on the 20th April 1901 as The Richmond Surgical Hospital and remained open as a hospital until 1987, when patients from The Richmond and Jervis Street were moved to Beaumont Hospital. It after became a business centre and then a Court House for a number of years, there are still 3 cells in the basement. This red brick english renaissance style building has three floors and is U-shaped overlooking a central courtyard and fountain. It is built on the site of benedictine convent dating back to 1688. The building has meeting rooms, offices, four large former wards (auditorium, lecture room, banqueting room, victorian tea room). The tour will include the ground floor, first floor (except offices) and part of the basement.”

smc

Meeting Grafton Architects: Irish Ladies Leading the Way!

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Shannon Chance with Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell of Dublin-based Grafton Architects.

I finally got to meet Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell, founders of Grafton Architects and designers of my home here in Dublin.

You may recall blogs I posted in October 2012 titled Hats off to Grafton Architects, a post about sun angles in winter, and a video clip I made shortly after moving into “my Dublin Castle.” I have attached my apartment tour which is quite goofy. In it, explained features unique to Ireland and the EU, but I called the water tank “electric storage.” That’s factually true, but here they use the term just for the wall heaters that heat bricks in the night, when electricity costs less, and radiate that heat our during the day.

I learned more about electric storage heat from my maintenance guy, Keith Brown. I posted a blog where he showed me how they work. I sure do miss Keith as he was able to fix anything, usually the way my grandpa would have! Pa grew up during the Great Depression and was quite thrifty! Keith, on the other hand, moved to Spain.

I, on the other hand, am not moving to Spain any time soon. But this flat is plenty warm and sunny.

I love every minute in this place, perched high in the Smithfield Lofts that Yvonne and Shelley designed back in 2006. Last night, I got to tell them how much I enjoy living here.

Grafton Architects

Covers from “Totally Dublin”

I had braved the lashing rain, trotting across town to pick up new specs at Ace and Tate and then over to Fumbally for an event produced by the magazine Totally Dublin, which ran a feature on them in January 2018 that I still have on my coffee table.

The talks weren’t starting on time. Or rather, Irish evening-time tends to run quite behind what the clock face shows. This event ran 8-10 PM, rather than the 7-8:30 PM published. In any case, I had time to grab a slice of cake and get psyched up to hear these amazing architects talk.

In the interim, I decided to hop across the room to tell Yvonne and Shelley that I’m a big fan and I love my home.

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A Dickens Christmas in cozy Smithfield

I showed them the photo I took last week from my balcony, which I’d posted in an earlier blog.

They seemed delighted to hear their building was loved, as that construction process was rough, with the developer cutting corners and ultimately going out of business when the economy crashed. I’d been told that unfortunate story by my colleagues when I moved in and was glad to help these architects reconnect with their creation. Incidentally, any criticisms I’ve ever had of this building are due to poor workmanship and Ireland’s very strange fire codes.

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Shelley McNamara sharing insights

These architects are now world-famous. They curated the Venice Biennale this year, bringing Irish architecture and Irish design to the fore of the world stage. They dedicated the 2018 Biennale to “Freespace,” which I might describe as third-space, public space where everyone is welcome and treated with equal dignity and respect.

Last night, Shelley and Yvonne discussed their role in the Biennale and working together since they first met in architecture school at UCD where they graduated in 1974. Imagine, they entered in a class that was gender balanced at the end of the 1960s!

Consider that the year Shelley and Yvonne entered architecture school, women were not allowed to study this subject in many universities in the USA, including the University of Virginia (a place Yvonne and Shelley mentioned to me last night). UVA began admitting women in the year 1970. The institution had admitted a few women before this date because they had a medical school that needed nurses; my mom earned a Bachelors in Nursing there at UVA in the mid-60s.

What a revelation, to learn there was gender balance in architecture admissions here in Ireland at the same time there were 0% women and 100% men in architecture at UVA!

Yvonne and Shelley said they’d never experienced gender discrimination in their lifetimes as architects, designing buildings in Ireland, Peru, Italy, Spain, France…. That was quite inspiring to hear!

Yesterday evening also featured discussions with the photographer and artistic director of the magazine’s October cover piece on “The Bumbles” and discussion and performance by busker NC Lawlor, an Irish man reared in Manchester and now living and performing in many types of venues in Dublin. You’ll have to find him busking on Grafton Street if you want to hear him first hand!

Below are photos of the evening, along with pics I’ve snapped over time of my cozy flat.

Discovering Irish History on Arbor Hill

Hoping to learn a bit of Irish history today, Aongus and I hiked over to Dublin’s Collins Barracks after brunch. A former military station, Collins Barracks is now used as a museum with decorative arts, WWI and II memorabilia, and even a gun-running ship that was pulled up from the sea floor. It’s also where Aongus did his service in the Irish military once upon a time.

To our dismay (and that of five other groups of visitors who arrived at 1 PM) the museum at Collins Barracks opens only 2-5 pm on Sundays. We left disappointed and took the back way out of the Barracks, exiting at Arbor Hill Prison.

Finding the Arbor Hill cemetery, next to the prison, open, we decided to venture in. There, we discovered tomb stones of British soldier and their families who served as occupying forces during the 1800s.

We also found a memorial to the Irish who lost their lives in the 1916 uprising. The leaders of the Rising were executed in Kilmainham Gaol, across the Liffey river, and then buried in a mass grave here.

Following 1916 the Irish continued to struggle against colonial rule, and they gained independence from British in 1922. Later this memorial was built to memorialize their effort. The monument includes the text of the 1916 Proclamation, in Irish on the left and English on the right.

Today this memorial park was full of dogs, and dog lovers, from the adjacent Stoneybatter neighborhood. Upon exiting the cemetery on the northern side and into the neighborhood, we discovered a well-preserved WWII tank kept up by a citizen group and had a bit of fun.

But after a busy week filled with cold, wet weather, we’d had our fill of exploring. We turned to head for home.

We’d driven from work on Friday straight down to Bunclody for RoboSlam workshops and not returned to Dublin until late Saturday night. All this activity caught up with us on Sunday, but the comfort of a warm blanket and a hot tea helped us recuperate for the coming week.

Back to School: Engineering Induction at DIT

The first year students have arrived at DIT and are getting orientation this week. Today, the whole group of incoming engineering students were at our Kevin Street campus to learn about electrical and electronics aspects of their first year curriculum. Dr. Ted Burke led the introduction.

I really enjoy the chance to teach in various programs and on multiple campuses of DIT. I’ve posted images from my morning walk from DIT Bolton Street to DIT Kevin Street.

Culture Night Dublin with Fulbright-ing Friends

Culture Night Dublin 2105 1Dublin Culture Night happens once a year, offering a glimpse into many cultural treasures this city has to offer. This year, I got to attend the event with my friends Amanda Wagstaff and Frank Daly.

Amanda recently moved to Dublin as a Fulbright student for the 2015-16 academic year. She and I actually graduated from the College of William and Mary on the very same day in 2010–she with a Bachelor of Arts and I with a PhD in Higher Ed. Amanda is a studio artist who is using the archives at the Chester Beatty Library to generate inspiration for her own contemporary artwork. You can see Amanda’s past work on her website, Traipse.

Frank’s art and photography is viable on his website and his many Google+ photo albums.

The there of us kicked off our Culture Night explorations at Christchurch Cathedral, not far from my Smithfield residence, and then proceeded eastward to see several more sights. We took in dinner at the Queen of Tarts, Dublin’s stately Customs House, and a guitar concert at the Unitarian Church on St. Stephen’s Green.

Culture Night is just one of many ways to learn history in Dublin. I’ve included photos in the gallery below of several cultural events that happened around the same time:

  • a lecture on the Irish Civil War (hosted by the Smithfield-Stoneybatter People’s History club and held at in the backroom of the Cobblestone Pub)
  • a man in Smithfield preparing his horses and carriage for the All Ireland football match
  • the best places I know to sit and read about history (my friends seem to enjoy reading in these places, too!)

Architects’ Pot Luck

These days, wild, crazy fun among architects involves Pecha Kucha style presentations.  This is a high-speed format for sharing images and ideas.  With Pecha Kucha, each presenter selects/provides 20 images.  At the Pecha Kucha event, the slides are projected on a large screen in sequence for 20 seconds each.  The presenter talks, and the slides move on wether or not the speaker is ready.  It’s entertaining — in part because it’s actually quite difficult for the speaker to stick to the 20 second window.

This format keeps the speaker from droning on too long and it leaves time for more people to present.  It’s pot luck: everyone brings something to share and you can almost always find something you hadn’t expected but quite enjoy.

An architect from Williamsburg, Dale Weiss, organized a Pecha Kucha event at ArchExchange East last November and he has uploaded the representations to his (very elegant) website.

You can view my Pecha Kucha presentation, of urban reflections from Ireland, by clicking here.