Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Basking in the long-setting winter
sun in Loughshinny and Skerries

The setting sun casts its rays across the beach at Loughshinny (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

The post-Christmas crisp winter weather continues. Around mid-day, the grey clouds pushed back, and there was a clear blue sky with few clouds over Fingal in north Co Dublin.

Two of us planned to go to Skerries for a walk on the beaches and a late lunch in the Olive. But our way was blocked by a Garda patrol at Loughshinny, where we were told the coast road was closed between Loughshinny and Skerries.

Not to be deterred from our plans for an early afternoon beach walk, we turned down to Loughshinny and parked the car overlooking the horseshoe-shaped beach and the small fishing harbour.

The tide was out and there were no trawlers at work in Loughshinny this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016; click on image for a full-screen view)

The tide was out, there were no trawlers at work, and there was just a handful of people walking on the beach and along the quay wall.

Although it is observable that the days are beginning to stretch out a little in the late evening, the sun was already beginning to set slowly, sitting like an orange balloon above one of the promontories, and casting its rays across the calm, still waters.

As we prepared the leave, a large family group was on the beach, playing with their dogs, and the lights and colours of the long-setting sun cast a sepia-like set of tones across the scene.

Clear blue skies and blue waters at Skerries Harbour this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

The police checkpoint was still blocking the coast road from Loughshinny to Skerries, and instead we made a circuitous way by Baldongan and by the Hills Cricket Club into Skerries.

We walked along the South Beach and up around the harbour, where the lights of the long-setting sun were still casting their rays across the Harbour and the North Beach.

Back in Skerries, we had a late lunch in the Olive and two double espressos, before being joined by two friends from Balbriggan. By the time we got back to the South Beach for another walk on the sand, the sun had already set and grey clouds were beginning to fill the sky.

The afternoon sun was taking a long time to set in Loughshinny this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016; click on image for a full-screen view)

Visiting four favourite buildings in Dublin
by Sir Thomas Newenham Deane (1)

The Lombardo-Romanesque frontfaçade of Saint Ann’s Church, Dawson Street, Dublin … designed by Sir Thomas Newenham Deane (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

The architect Sir Thomas Newenham Deane (1828-1899) was born on 15 June 1828 at Dundanion, Co Cork, the eldest son of Thomas Deane and his second wife, Eliza Newenham. He was educated at Rugby and Trinity College Dublin (BA, 1849). After graduation, he became a pupil in his father’s office in Cork.

In 1851 Deane and his father’s assistant, Benjamin Woodward (1816-1861), became partners in the practice of Deane and Woodward. Woodward, who was born in Tullamore, Co Offaly, trained as an engineer but developed an early interest in mediaeval architecture.

In October 1853, Woodward and Deane set up an office at No. 3 Upper Merrion Street, Dublin. Deane and Woodward developed a Gothic style based on the naturalistic principles laid down by John Ruskin, and their practice played an important role in the Gothic revival in England. Their two most important buildings are the Museum in Trinity College Dublin (1854-1857) and the Oxford Museum (1854-1860).

As an artist, Deane was also a regular exhibitor at the Royal Hibernian Academy from 1863 to 1898.

Woodward died in Lyons in France in 1862. In 1878 Sir Thomas Newenham Deane’s eldest son, Thomas Manly Deane, joined the partnership. Deane was one of four Irish architects who attended the Architects’ Conference in London in 1871. He believed that architects should have a broad education that included fine art and the study of the antique.

In 1875, Deane was appointed the first Superintendent of National Monuments. In 1890, Deane was knighted at the opening of the National Library and National Museum in Kildare Street.

Despite his fame and public acclamation, Deane was a shy person and suffered from a speech impediment and shyness. He was an associate and later a Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (FRIAI), a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (FRIBA), and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (FRSAI).

He died suddenly in his office at 37 Saint Stephen’s Green, Dublin, on 8 November 1899 and was buried in Deansgrange Cemetery, Co Dublin. His practice was continued by his son, Thomas Manly Deane.

Deane’s best known works in Dublin include the National Library and the National Museum in Kildare Street, bookending Leinster House. However, this week I want to look at four of his buildings that are among my favourite works of architecture in Dublin:

1, The Museum Building in Trinity College, Dublin;

2, No 46-47 Dame Street, which was built in 1869-1871 for the Crown Life Assurance Co;

3, The Allied Irish Bank, formerly the Munster and Leinster Bank, at 7-10 Dame Street Dublin;

4, the former Kildare Street Club on Kildare Street.

Deane’s other works also include the former Stopford House Hotel, or Invermore, in Courtown, Co Wexford, which was designed around 1860 for the Earl Courtown’s land agent, and at one time was the home of Eva Mary Comerford (née Esmond) and her daughter Maire Comerford (1893-1982); Rathmichael Parish Church (1863), Co Dublin; Turlough House, Co Mayo, built for Charles Lionel Fitzgerald; the New Lombardo-Romanesque front for Saint Ann’s Church, Dawson Street, Dublin (1866-1869), inspired by two churches in Rome – the baroque façade of San Giacomo in Augusta (degli Incurabili) in central Rome and Francesco Borromini’s tower at Sant’Agnese in Agone in the Piazza Navona; and the Graduates’ Memorial Building (GMB) in Trinity College Dublin (1899).

Join me this week as I visit the four buildings I have selected, all within walking distance of each other.

Tomorrow: The Museum Building in Trinity College, Dublin.

The Museum Building in Oxford was also designed by Woodward and Deane and decorated by O’Shea and Whelan (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Praying at Christmas with USPG,
(3): 27 December 2016

Saint John depicted above the main gate of Saint John’s College, Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

The Christmas season continues, and today [27 December 2016] is the feast of Saint John the Evangelist. Each morning throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas I am using the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency, USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), for my morning prayers and reflections.

This week, the prayers in the USPG Prayer Diary focus on the needs of mothers and children in Palestine and Israel.

The USPG Prayer Diary:

Tuesday 27 December 2016, Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist:


Pray for all mothers in Palestine who have stillbirths; the natal rate is four times higher than in nearby Israel.

Readings (Revised Common Lectionary, the Church of Ireland, Holy Communion):

Exodus 33: 7-11a; Psalm 117; I John 1: 1-9; John 21: 19b-25.

The Collect of the Day:

Merciful Lord,
cast your bright beams of light upon the Church;
that, being enlightened by the teaching
of your blessed apostle and evangelist Saint John,
we may so walk in the light of your truth
that we may at last attain to the light of everlasting life
through Jesus Christ your incarnate Son our Lord.

Post Communion Prayer

Grant, O Lord, we pray,
that the Word made flesh proclaimed by your Apostle John
may ever abide and live within us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

An icon of Saint John the Divine in the cave on Patmos listening to the voice that tells him to write

Continued tomorrow