What do I write about these small icons of Irish architecture?
Sometimes I feel it’s better to just let the photographs do the ‘talking’: No captions, no explanations, just open ended images that let the viewers eyes and mind roam.
Last Saturday brought with it a taste of spring; the sky was clear blue, the birds were singing, and standing in the sun one could feel a bit of glorious heat. My little boy asked if we could go out for a bike ride, so we dusted off the saddles, checked tyre pressure, oiled the chains, and hit the road pedaling.
We made a few stops along the way – Noah would huff and puff and complain while I whipped out the mobile phone and put it to good use documenting the 2up2down houses along the back country roadeens.
Cycling the back roads is a beautiful way to travel and one sees and hears, and experiences so much more compared to traveling in a car.
I am also taking advantage of other mobile technology and am locating these houses using Google Street View. So far, within a 20 mile radius, I have located over 100 of these design icons. I reckon there could be up to 2000 of these houses around the county.
For some time I have been thinking about documenting the 2down2up type house that are prevalent throughout County Wexford, Ireland.
Designed by Wexford County Council up until the 1930’s, they are simple in form, have classical proportions, a pleasing scale, and enduring qualities. Of all the dwellings throughout the landscape of Wexford, they have – in my opinion – the most charm.
Many of these labourer style cottages have fallen into disrepair, but many too have survived, and are lovingly cared for by their owners. Over time, the basic form has been altered by porches, side and rear extensions, and – in a similar manner to icons such as the VW Beetle and Combi – they have been deemed worthy of creative individual paint finishes.
Yet for all this they remain readily identifiable, sitting comfortably in the rural landscape surrounded by green fields, or overshadowed by characterless new buildings in built up suburbs.
This then, is a tribute to understatement; a tipping of the hat to a classic enduring Irish design.