Ireland – The Emerald Isle

Ireland is a beautiful island with friendly English-speaking people, good road signs, and hundreds of shades of green…(image at left: Ring of Kerry farmland) The country fields have meandering stone walls and small towns that are filled with charming cottages...some older buildings still have thatched roofs (image at right) In newer communities, the cottage style is still prevalent. But, the scale is slightly larger and there’s a different mix of materials based on modern building technologies. Yet the charm is still evident in simple, symmetrical compositions with stone details, interesting dormered rooflines, and bay-windowed first floor rooms. Rust-colored windows and trim add flair to a simple composition…(image at left) Open-rafter trellises above French doors signal entry areas and lighten the appearance of the structure. I used this open-rafter detail on a pool house, and it could also be successfully integrated into a garden room...(image at right) We kicked off our visit with a tour of the Guiness Brewery in Dublin.  This facility was expanded to include a Visitor’s Center with a multi-story steel-framed courtyard with glass panels that form a super-sized beer glass (image at left).  Even though I am not a beer drinker, the tour was very interesting and the escalating stairways bring visitors to a bar with a fabulous panoramic view of the city and a free pint. Most readers are aware that Ireland is known for its pubs, but I never expected such a colorful streetscape as I found in the Temple Bar area on Fleet Street.  Interesting architectural features are second floor bay windows and heavy cornices which are bracketed above storefronts.   Both of these features could be used in residential architecture. For example, a homeowner could add a large cantilevered walk-in bay window to frame a view and enlarge a Master Bedroom.  This could be installed at a more reasonable price than an addition... (image at right) The cornices with built-in flower boxes could tie together a series of French doors along a Breakfast-Family Room wall…(image at left) While rambling around, we discovered a unique door in a club’s entrance.  The bronze bas-relief eyes, noses and ears were a whimsical find, and it freed my imagination.  For example: why not commission a custom door for a doctor’s office?  Or, incorporate bronze insets on a front door.  Of course, this specialty item would have a steeper price tag…(image at right) The new Samuel Beckett Bridge, which connects the banks of the Liffey River, was designed by architect Santiago Calatrava.  He used the image of a harp, the secular icon for Ireland, and interpreted it into an engineering marvel and sculpture which delights the eye. (image at left)
Travel tip: Be on your guard in any large city for pick-pockets.  The latest way to “lift” credit cards is with electronic scanners.  So tuck your credit cards into a special holder, and keep the zipper or latch on your purse under your nose.
Published: March 2011

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