Connemara house renovation- part 1

This week, we were renovating a one hundred year old house in Connemara at the foot of the Maam Turks with stunning views of the Twelve Bens.  It’s been uninhabited for 15 years so there is quite a lot of rot, woodworm and debris.  We planned on doing one room at a time but it took one day to remove rubbish, rot and efflorescence that had built up in the kitchen alone.  This included a medium sized bird skeleton that could be mistaken for a baby dinosaur.  Sheep roam around the house and we plan on fencing it off.  There is a small lake decorated with lily pads, and surrounded by rushes, only five metres from the back door.  There is a bigger lake over the hill nearer to the mountain for swimming and boating near Honey Fitz’s house.  Dishes were washed in boiled lake water on a portable stove this week and china dried on the rocks. Much time has been spent removing the old grape vine and honeysuckle that had taken over the conservatory.  They attract millions of insects and I got bitten alive on the face and hands.  The kitchen was purpose built for a very tall man. While Peter will be happy with the ergonomics, I will spend much time stepping up and down an Ikea footstool until we have the funds to replace it. The antique furniture that was there will need to be treated or destroyed due to woodworm. This will significantly delay my plans to set up my piano there.  It is the perfect place to write and record.   As far as the décor goes, the main living area and bedrooms will have the original stonework exposed and whitewashed.  In contrast to this, I decided to take an experimental approach to painting the kitchen, painting the units all different primary colours, including the doors, while keeping the walls white.  The curtains are all torn and moth eaten and need to be replaced (I have a bail of fabric from the 1970’s that will do the job fine).  Much time was also spent trying to fix the burnt out water pump.  After much trial and error, we finally had a smooth flow of brown lake water coming out of the kitchen tap.  I really dislike using plastic bottled water (be honest now, are the bottles really recycled?) and have yet to look into other drinking water options.  After all that grueling labour, we chickened out of pitching our tent, and found a B & B at the last minute.  When we returned the next morning, two French world travellers called Elise and Ewen, had pitched their tent up in the front garden.  They didn’t feel the need to lock their very expensive recumbent bikes.  They’d saved up, sold all their furniture and given up their jobs, to cycle around the world for four years.  We got to practice our French.  My Irish was also tested by one of the locals.  I need to work on it.  We’re back in Limerick now, packing boxes and resting up for another week of renovating on Monday.  


Dress Maquette on display in the Hunt Museum, Limerick.

Creation of dress maquette as part of the ‘Instruments of Perception’ Exhibition and Eva at the Hunt Museum, Limerick.

This piece was inspired by the “Pink Ice’ evening gown by Sybil Connolly (HML 018) and a silver-gilt chalice with enamel inserts (NGI 12042). In much the same way as the dress is a vessel for the body, the chalice is a vessel used in sacred rituals including the transubstantiation. The piece engages with the problematic relationship between fashion, the role of women in global industries which support it, and constructs of femininity. By its nature, the maquette hints at potential, the possibility of what may be rather than a definitive; this piece is intended to stimulate the viewer’s imagination and provoke an opinion of both the piece and its potential. 21st Century Mantua suggests a layered approach to the observation of these areas through both the fragile and intricate design of the maquette and the multimedia accompaniment accessed through a technological interface. the audio composition uses sounds including an industrial sewing machine, scissors, zips, and applause at a fashion show, suggesting global movement and personal agitation. It was scored for double bass, viola and cello to create a sense of familiarity. “21st Century Mantua merges fashion and music into one clear message: ‘What is the human sacrifice of fast fashion when quality will suffice for a lifetime, if not into another generation?” – Aoife Moriarty