A little house was made on the Wild Atlantic Way, under a small mountain, overlooking the sea, with Slyne Head to the west, a pier below, and surrounded by the loose suburbia typical of the place, where, as Tom de Paor says, “the ground in between is doing its rough thing.” In a landscape peppered with houses, the square plan was orientated to pull the landscape in, catching the most interesting light and views.
It is called Cois Cúain, which is like waterfront, sea view, or bayside. “To us it was just at the end of the road,” says brand strategist Ciarán OGaora, whose father Pádraic, former head of RTÉ’s Nuacht, and mother were Tom’s clients. “It’s brilliant as a summer house, where different generations can enjoy each other’s company, with all that air above your head and wood paneling, like in a beach shack. No corridors, only common space. When cooking, it’s totally sociable, with the red island unit at one end as a nucleus.”
It is at once a rumination on, among other things, the primitive hut, the square and the pyramid and their enduring importance, architectural placement in the landscape, and the raw, primal sense of pleasure in ‘camping’ holidays of the sort that were so brilliantly promoted and delivered during my youth by An Óige, the national organisation. Robert Payne picked up on these aspects when awarding the house in the AAI Awards in 2007, saying, “It seems to be sort of flawless … about concept, but also about pleasure.”
The painted, tongued-and-grooved, casino-tent interior circulates around the stove, its flue and the water tank. “I always found that very amusing,” says de Paor. “It sitting there, with the plumbing all exposed, suspended above the stove. A bit like all the other water tanks around about, for the cattle. In Connemara, the expulsion of cattle and division of the house into rooms are recent events. Oral tradition relates the former byre-end divided from the kitchen by a partition for a bedroom.”
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