When considering the great architecture from around the world, Ireland is rarely ever cited in the same breath as Rome or Athens. However, Ireland’s lush, green lands hold many architectural secrets if you know where to look.
A castle for every county
Long before the Irish decided to travel the globe, Ireland has always been a great spot for other countries to stop off and settle on our shores. The Vikings started this trend; pillaging monasteries built by Irish monks and building giant Longphorts. While many of the monasteries survived, the impressive Viking structures are rarely seen outside of archaeological digs.
This period was followed by the Normans who built fortress style castles, many of which can still be visited all across Ireland. The cut stone building technique, which was new to Irish stonemasons, allowed these castles to be built throughout Ireland.
Off to Mass
While there have been many squabbles regarding which particular flavour of religion was the right one, the house of the Lord was always the most beautiful building in town. From the imposing Gothic style to more decorated neo-Gothic, Ireland has some cathedrals and churches which rival those seen throughout Europe.
George, Vicky and 21st century
With Ireland being part of the UK until 1922, it is obvious that the UK’s sphere of influence on architecture was high. Palladian style country houses and exquisite Georgian buildings and squares are still standing in many of Ireland’s cities and towns.
During Queen Victoria’s reign, many new buildings and churches were built in Ireland but most notably, many statues were erected. Figures such as Henry Grattan, Daniel O’Connell and of course, Queen Victoria herself are among the most famous.
In more recent years a new breed of Irish architect has risen; one with an emphasis on a highly individualistic style. Where the emphasis used to be on the structure as a whole, the modern style has shifted to minute detail. Today’s architects know there is a reason for every single fixture and fitting and tailor this specifically to each client. In many cases, the client is now seen as a co-designer rather than just a customer.
Irish architecture has almost always been influenced by an outside force, but luckily for current Irish architects, the focus has come full circle back to the individual.
Modern Irish Architecture