Saturday, July 4, 2015

Swinford Community Design: Public Presentation by Travis Price and Students on Tuesday, July 7

All in the Swinford community are cordially invited to attend a presentation by Travis Price, Architect and students from the Catholic University of America School of Architecture & Planning who will present exciting new design proposals for Swinford.  The presentation and exhibit will be held at Swinford Cultural Centre on Tuesday, July 7 at 7:30pm.

The programme for the semester-long graduate design studio included three aspects: the first is the redesign and improvement of Main Street; the second is the creation of a new emerging enterprise centre under the theme of “film, fish and food” - to support filmmaking, fishing tourism, and local food packaging; the third is a proposed new dance school.

Travis Price and three of his students, Emily O'Loughlin, Brendan Roche, and Victoria Wallace, will present these design ideas for Swinford’s future growth, with an exhibit of the student design work on view in the Swinford Cultural Centre on Tuesday, July 7 at 7.30pm.

The design programme was developed alongside the Spirit of Place memorial,“Procession of the Souls” that Price and the students are currently building in Swinford. 

Joanne Grehan, Head of Enterprise & Investment at Mayo County Council said “we are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Travis Price and his students from Catholic University in Washington DC over the past months for the benefit of Swinford town and I am encouraging the people of Swinford and surrounding communities to join us on the evening of the 7th to hear first hand from Travis Price of what they envision for Swinford.”

Tear Down This Wall!

More craic on the Spirit of Place site:  Travis invokes Ronald Reagan and kung fu and "tears down this wall" barehanded!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Day 5: Breaking Rocks in the Hot Sun

A gorgeous day today, and more progress, with about half the walls built! We still have alot to do to finish in time for the opening dedication festivities just a week from today, next Friday, July 10. The public is invited, and we hope to have the whole community out to take part.  (more on that soon.)

Besides our usual chocolate breaks, Declan delivered ice cream and cold Coke which kept everyone going through the long hot afternoon.  We had to work quickly so the mortar wouldn't dry out, but we all still ended up with mortar dust in our hair, ears, and nose!

chocolate break!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Day 4 Photos

Images of Day 4, courtesy of Brendan Roche:  

The Craic...

When you're working this hard you need some moments of humor...

Here is Travis's impression of Gus's rapid fire Irish accent that sometimes sounds like another language to American ears...

Days 2 and 3

The stone walls are rising with a steady rhythm of mallets and chisels.  Our master craftsmen crew of Danny, Eugene, Gus, Declan and Alan are patiently demonstrating the techniques of placing corner stones, chiseling and shaping stone, mixing mortar, keeping the walls level and plumb. The students are working in teams led by the craftsmen who help and give encouragement and pointers.  We get an early start with a hearty Irish breakfast at 7am and are onsite by 7:30, and work until 7pm. The rains come, we put raingear on, the rain stops, we take the raingear off, and the sun comes out for a few hour 'scorcher' (as they say here, meaning 65 degrees F) --and repeat!  Such is our rhythm and we're making great progress!

Video from Day 2

Day 1: and so it begins!

Danny, Eugene, Gus, and the team from Mayo County Council prepared the 'runway' for our project the week before we landed, by demolishing the existing parking lot, layout out the formwork and pouring the concrete, as well as setting several concrete block walls as back-up structure for some of the taller walls.

Bright and early Monday morning we all marched from the hotel to the site to meet our construction team from Mayo County Council:  Danny O Toole, our Project Manager, Eugene O Toole (Danny's brother!) Gus O'Toole, Declan McNamara, and Alan Boland.  This is the same awesome crew we've worked with on Spirit of Place for the last 2 years projects.  Danny, Eugene, and Gus are all from Inishturk, and had never worked together before that!  See more on those three, especially Danny in the documentary film about the Inishturk project, Tale of the Tongs.

After Danny's all-important safety orientation and issue of hard hats and hi-vis vests, we launched in! Tommy, Pat and Megan learned to use the concrete mixer to mix the mortar, Declan gave a demonstration of beginning to set the stone walls, and use a hammer and chisel to shape the stones. Then we broke into teams to attack the massive piles of stone!


    The runway...beautifully cast in place concrete foundation set by the Mayo County team before we     arrived

Video rendering walk-through of Procession of the Souls

Check out this video rendering walk-through of The Procession of the Souls memorial created by the talented Amirali Ebadi.  

The music is "The Workhouse" from The Burns Sisters new album!

    Student final metaphoric sculpture and poem

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Media Coverage!

The first article about our project appeared in the local newspaper!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Arrival and welcome to Swinford!

The Spirit of Place team arrived at Dublin airport on Sunday morning, with half the group traveling from Washington, and the other half meeting us in Dublin after spending a few days with family and friends exploring the city.  The latter half already had the advantage of adjustment to the local time zone (not fair!)

As has become our custom when bringing newcomers to County Mayo, we first made a visit to Turlough House and the National Museum of Ireland, Museum of Country Life, which offers insightful exhibits about the history, lifeways, crafts, traditions, and folklore of the Irish countryside. It is particularly relevant to the research we conducted for our project on the Great Famine, in telling the story of both the landlords as well as the resilient country people who created their homes in the face of strenuous conditions and hardship. Irish building and crafts entail an inventive use a limited palette of materials for building and design--making use of the elements of earth, clay for the walls of houses, and turf for the hearth, grasses and twigs for roof thatch, and woven basketry for multiple purposes for furnishings, tools, clothing, and ceremonial objects, a simultaneous reflection of necessity, function, and cultural tradition and meaning.

The design of the museum is also an outstanding example of the addition of modern architecture that beautifully complements a well-preserved historic house and landscape.

Fish baskets and lobster pots!

interior clay walls and hearth of thatched cottage

A warm and wonderful welcome awaited Spirit of Place students on arrival to the Gateway Hotel in Swinford.  Our friends and project supporters from the Mayo County Council joined us for a wonderful huge dinner with local lamb and salmon, followed by words of welcome, and traditional Irish music and dance performed by talented Swinford kids and townspeople. A perfect start!