Architectural Styles

The most ancient writing to survive on architecture in Western Europe is a treatise of ten books composed about 28 BC by a Roman engineer and architect, Marcus Pollio Vitruvius. The text of Vitruvius sets out three fundamental considerations which are true for all time. Good architecture, he tells us, must consist in a balance of three things: it must be soundly built so that it stands up; it must be fit for the purpose for which it is intended and it must have a quality of beauty or elegance about it. The Jacobean courtier Sir Henry Wotton, who wrote a short treatise on architecture in 1624 famously translated Vitruvius's three elements as 'firmness, commodity and delight'.

The architectural styles, developed at different times and by different societies, always represent a balance between these three requirements. Sometimes the practical considerations of the structure dominate. At other times it is the layout and arrangement of the building that is of prime importance or it is the proportion and balance of the structure, its formal visual qualities and the presence of a little (or a lot of) decoration that defines the architectural style. The three, coming together as a harmonious whole, make a piece of architecture distinct from a simple building.


Romanesque Arch

Round arches, built with carefully dressed blocks of stone, such as are found in Roman ampitheatres, theatres and aqueducts, are Romanesque architecture's most essential feature. Arches may be used at the entrance to a building, often with one archway set inside another to give emphasis to a doorway. They may be set above columns or square piers to provide an arcade dividing the space of a church into a central nave with aisles on either side; a monumental arch will usually mark the division between the nave and the sanctuary, or chancel, of a church and the windows of a Romanesque building are normally round-headed. Romanesque designers employed a range of features to enrich the interior of a building. Often the most important arches had groups of columns attached to their sides and the arch itself was divided into several arches, one set inside the other and decorated with lozenge, zig-zag and other abstract patters of sculpture. Blind arcading – a system of arches and columns applied to a wall – is a popular form of enrichment in a Romanesque interior and the architectural elements, such as the bases and capitals of the columns are usually carved. This decorative work was set off against walls built with regular blocks of squared stone or plastered interiors.

Irish Architectural Archives

Romanesque Arch - Irish Architectural Archives

Adelaide Memorial Church, Myshall, Co Carlow

The Adelaide Memorial Church of Christ the Redeemer is situated near the village of Myshall, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow. The architect was George Coppinger Ashlin. The Church was designed in the style of Salisbury Cathedral with one tower and spire. It is built mostly of limestone and some local granite. It was erected circa 1903 in an ornate gothic revival style. There is richly carved detail on the extension including a frieze and the tower has a balustraded parapet. The interior is ornately decorated with black marble steps from Galway and red granite pillars from Aberdeen. The design of the floor in the chancel is based on St. Mark’s Venice. The interior also features decorations in mosaic and mother of pearl. It was built in memory of Constance Duguid who died tragically in 1880’s at the time of her engagement to the heir of the Cornwall-Brady estate of Myshall. It also commemorates her mother who died later. The Adelaide Memorial Church can be visited today in its original glory.

Carlow County Library

Adelaide Memorial Church, Myshall, Co Carlow - Carlow County Library

Warehouse at Mill Lane , Birr

Milling was an important employer in the town throughout the nineteenth century. There were two mills in the town, and one on the outskirts at Elmgrove . All used the water of the Camcor to drain their mill wheels. The larger of the three located on Brendan Street had its own mill race constructed. This mill thrived in the early part of the nineteenth century but declined in the later part due to competition from America. Associated with this mill are the warehouses of Mill Lane

Warehouse at Mill Lane , Birr -

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