Structures and buildings serve an important role in society. They not only serve a utilitarian role, but also an aesthetic one.
● Religion plays an important role in Irish life. Churches are ubiquitous. They range from the stone shelters seen on Skellig Michael, built by monks around 700. (Figure 1) Other churches are equally old, such as Cormac’s chapel (1134) in the Cashel complex, County Tipperary. (Figure 2). While slightly newer, St. Patrick’s in Dublin celebrated its 800th anniversary. (Figure 3).
● The skyline of Cork (Figure 4) was one of the last sights of Ireland seen by emigrants departing by ship from Cobh to the New World. Hopefully, their ship stayed far clear of Fastnet Reef and its lighthouse (Figure 5).
● While seemingly mundane, the building of canals and waterways provided a mode of transport for agricultural product to market. (Figure 6) The construction of these canals in the mid-18th to mid-19th centuries provided jobs for people, especial those displaced by the Famine.
● Railways began construction in the early 19th century and continued through the 20th. They provided transportation of goods and agricultural products between rural areas both to and from markets. The major change was that it gave also mobility to people. The construction and operation of railways required manpower - jobs were in short supply in the western counties.(Figure 7) Thus, a “win-win” situation.
● The General Post Office on O’Connell Street in Dublin serves two purposes. The first, as planned, provides a central location for mail distribution and management. The second, and possibly most important function, is that it is a shrine to the creation of the Irish state run by the Irish after centuries of English rule due to it being used as the main resistance point in the 1916 Uprising. (Figure 8)
● Construction of the Shannon Hydroelectric (Dam) project provided a modern way of life for residents of the Western counties by providing electricity beginning in 1929. This was a quantum leap in the quality of rural lifestyle.(Figure 9)
● Today’s modern structures serve utilitarian and functional uses. The Europa Bridge not only expedites the flow of motorway M1 traffic over the River Boyne at Droheada, but serves as a symbol of Ireland’s commitment to a modern Europe.(Figure 10). The bridge is named in honor of Mary McAleese, the second woman Irish president who worked to build figurative bridges between Catholics and Protestants.
● Creation of alternate energy sources to offset Ireland’s deficiency in carbon-based energy sources, by harnessing the wind to provide 18% of the electricity (Figure 11) and making use of ocean wave power (Figure 12)
None of these projects were created in a vacuum. The need was identified and structures created to meet the requirement.
Wikipedia, Ireland Energy Sources, and Ireland Bridges, Reviewed August 2, 2019.
Moody, T.W. & Martin, F.X., The Course of Irish History, 4th ed., Roberts Rinehart, Lantham, Md., 2001.
Steves, R. & O’Connor, P., Rick Steves Ireland 2017, Perseus Books, 2017.
Irish Philatelic Bureau, “The Collector”, 3/11.