25 July 2017

Enjoying a village
hall and estate
cottages in Adare

The Village Hall and Clubhouse faces the Main Street in Adare, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

I found myself once again this afternoon in Adare, Co Limerick, on my way to the bus from Limerick and Dublin, and once again admired the Village Hall and Clubhouse in Adare and the terraces of dormered cottages on Fair Green, designed in the early 20th century Arts and Crafts style.

A plaque on the village hall declares: ‘This hall was erected in the year 1911 by Windham Thomas Wyndham Quin 4th Earl of Dunraven for the benefit of the people of Adare.’

Lord Dunraven (1841-1926) was a colonial under-secretary in the British government in the 1880s and a member of the first Senate in the Irish Free State after independence. He commissioned the village hall in 1907, and when it was completed in 1911 it became a noticeable landmark in Adare. It stands on a prominent site at the junction of roads and closes the vista from the main road into the town from the east.

The style and form of the hall mark it out on the streetscape, with its variety of architectural features and roof types. The hall is positioned behind a club and billiards room facing the main street, with a façade of domestic scale. The symmetry of the front façade belies the large scale of the building and gives it a domestic appearance.

The hall was designed by the English-born architect, William Clifford Smith, who was working in Limerick City. His other works in the area included Shannon Rowing Club in Limerick, the former Bank and Post Office in Foynes, Co Limerick, and what is now the Belltable Arts Centre on O’Connell Street, Limerick.

Smith’s design for the Village Hall in Adare is an adaptation of the style of the English architect Charles Voysey (1857-1941), who was influenced by AWN Pugin and William Morris.

Voysey’s houses featured white rough rendered walls with horizontal ribbon windows and huge pitched roofs. They are recognised for their simplicity, originality and total abandonment of historical tradition. His style and works are considered formative works in the evolution of the Modern Movement in architecture.

In Adare, Smith built a village hall that was much more conventional, informal and domestic. The stonework is well crafted and the variety of materials and ornamentation create a striking façade.

The estate cottages in Adare were designed by William Clifford Smith and Detmar Jellings Blow (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Smith also worked with the English architected Detmar Jellings Blow (1867-1939) in designing the two terraces of dormered and gabled cottages that radiate north and west from the hall.

These cottages are designed in a style similar to the earlier 19th century estate cottages of Adare Manor and are a significant part of the overall design of the estate. They have overhanging roofs with rustic posts, lean-to dormer windows, verandas to the front, half-hipped slate roofs and rendered chimney-stacks. Outside, there are timber boundary fences and gates.

The architect Detmar Jellings Blow (1867-1939) built his reputation on his work in the Arts and Crafts style. Blow, who had romantic socialist views, was one of the last disciples of John Ruskin, and as a young man he accompanied Ruskin on his last journey abroad.

Blow’s architectural work was influenced by his mentors Ruskin, William Holman Hunt, William Morris and Philip Webb, the architect of Clouds (1886), the Wyndham family’s country house in Wiltshire. Blow was present at Morris’s death and organised his funeral procession.

Much of Blow’s early work was, like that of his contemporary Edwin Lutyens, was in the Arts and Crafts style, and at one point, Blow and Lutyens contemplated forming an architectural partnership. Instead, in 1906 he formed a partnership with the French architect Fernand Billerey (1878-1951).

Blow designed various properties for Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, and from 1916 to 1933 he worked almost exclusively as the estate manager for the Grosvenor estates, including large estates in Cheshire and vast tracts of Belgravia and Mayfair in central London.

The Village Hall and the Arts and Crafts cottages form an interesting cluster in Adare, but this afternoon I could see how they are often over-looked by tourists who concentrate their focus and their cameras on the earlier thatched cottages.

The estate cottages in Adare are designed in the Arts and Crafts style, influenced by John Ruskin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Saint James, witness
to the Transfiguration
and a ‘Son of Thunder’

An icon of the Transfiguration seen in Piskopiano in Crete earlier this month … the three disciples in the icon are Peter, James and John (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

Today [25 July] in the Calendar of the Church is the Feast of Saint James, the son of Zebedee and one of the Twelve Disciples.

The English name James comes from Italian Giacomo, a variant of Giacobo, which is derived from Iacobus in Latin and Ἰάκωβος in Greek. It is the same name as Jacob in the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. In French, the name is Jacques, in Spanish it is Jaime, and in Catalan it is Jaume. Variations include Diego in Spanish, giving us San Diego and Santiago, and Diogo in Portuguese.

This Saint James, traditionally regarded as the first apostle to be martyred, is said to have been a son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of Saint John the Evangelist. He is also called Saint James the Great to distinguish him from Saint James, son of Alphaeus, and Saint James, the brother of the Lord, or Saint James the Just.

His father Zebedee was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, and probably lived in or near Bethsaida in present Galilee, perhaps in Capernaum. His mother Salome was one of the pious women who followed Christ and ‘ministered unto him of their substance.’ But James and John are also known as ‘the Sons of Thunder’ (see Mark 3: 17).

This Saint James is one of the first disciples. The Synoptic Gospels say James and John were with their father by the seashore when Christ called them to follow him (see Matthew 4: 21-22; Mark 1: 19-20). James was one of the three disciples, along with Peter and John, who witnesses to the Transfiguration, which we remember on Sunday week, 6 August.

James and John, or their mother, ask Christ to be seated on his right and left in his glory. They also wanted to call down fire on a Samaritan town, but are rebuked for this (see Luke 9: 51-6).

The Acts of the Apostles records that Herod (probably Herod Agrippa) had Saint James executed by sword, making him the only apostle whose martyrdom is recorded in the New Testament (see Acts 12: 1-2).

The site of martyrdom is said to be marked by the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral of Saint James in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem, where his head is said to be buried under the altar, marked by a piece of red marble and surrounded by six votive lamps.

Spanish legends claim that Saint James preached the Gospel in Iberia and that after he was martyred his disciples carried his body by sea to Iberia, where they landed at Padrón on the coast of Galicia, and took it inland for burial at Santiago de Compostela. But these legends date from the eighth or ninth century and no earlier.

Saint James became the patron saint of Spain, and Santiago de Compostela became the end point of the popular pilgrim route known as the Camino. The emblem of Saint James is the scallop, which has become a general symbol of pilgrims and pilgrimage.

In Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, the South Transept was known as the Chapel of Saint James and Saint Mary Magdalene. It was probably built along the lines of the cruciform design favoured by the Cistercians, and seems to have been strongly influenced by the design of Mellifont Abbey in Co Louth.

A monument on the west wall of Saint James’s Chapel commemorates Cornelius O’Dea, Bishop of Limerick (1400-1426). His beautiful mitre and crozier are among the exhibits in the Hunt Museum in Limerick.

Tomorrow, I am attending the wedding of a former student in Saint James’s Church, Crinken, near Bray.

Bishop O’Dea’s mitre (left) and crozier (right) on display in the Hunt Museum, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Readings: Jeremiah 45: 1-5; Psalm 126; Acts 11: 27 to 12: 2; Matthew 20: 20-28.


Merciful God,
whose holy apostle Saint James,
leaving his father and all that he had,
was obedient to the calling of your Son Jesus Christ
and followed him even to death:
Help us, forsaking the false attractions of the world,
to be ready at all times to answer your call without delay;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Post-Communion Prayer:

we have eaten at your table
and drunk from the cup of your kingdom.
Teach us the way of service
that in compassion and humility
we may reflect the glory of Jesus Christ,
Son of Man and Son of God, our Lord.