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Irish Modernism

Origins, Contexts, Publics


Edited By Edwina Keown and Carol Taaffe

This is the first interdisciplinary volume to present a sustained examination of the emergence, reception and legacy of modernism in Ireland. Engaging with the ongoing re-evaluation of regional and national modernisms, the essays collected here reveal both the importance of modernism to Ireland, and that of Ireland to modernism. Central concerns of the book include definitions of and critical contexts for an Irish modernism, issues of production, reception and the marketplace, new dialogues between literature and the visual arts in Ireland, modernism and Catholicism, and Irish modernism’s relationship with European and Anglo-American modernism. With contributions from established and emerging scholars in both Irish Studies and Modernist Studies, this collection introduces fresh perspectives on modern Irish culture that reflect new understandings of the contradictory and contested nature of modernism itself.


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Ellen Rowley Transitional Modernism: The Case of 1950s Church Architecture in Dublin 195


Ellen Rowley Transitional Modernism: The Case of 1950s Church Architecture in Dublin ‘an age of stark contradiction and contrasting styles’ — Richard Hurley1 This essay presents a study of the culture of architecture in Dublin in the post-war period, 1945–1960, through an examination of Catholic church architecture. It focuses on one seminal event, a 1954 competition for the design of a new church at Clonskeagh in south County Dublin. Often cited anecdotally by a generation of Irish architects, this competition has not yet been studied in a hermeneutic sense, in the context of the cul- ture and discourse of Dublin architecture. Firstly, this essay challenges the enduring notion that ‘nothing happened’ in Irish architecture during the post-war period. Taking church design as its text, it discusses the modern- versus-traditional dichotomy apparent in the reluctance of the Church’s patron – in this instance, Archbishop John Charles McQuaid – to embrace modernism in Dublin architecture. But interestingly, when we scratch beneath the surface (using the Clonskeagh competition as the paradigm), this ‘battle of the styles’ appears less a Manichean polarisation, than a form of a transitional modernism. What can be seen in post-war Dublin is an architecture tentatively evolving towards a modernist approach (in form and technology) – a form of modernism ultimately founded in tension. 1 Richard Hurley, Irish Architecture in the Era of Vatican II (Dublin: Dominican Publications, 2001), 30. 196 Ellen Rowley The Historiography of Post-War Church Architecture in Dublin Catholic church design in Dublin during the post-war period presented an exciting...

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