Keeping Ireland Modern exhibition opens at Irish Architecture Archive
November 7th, 2019
These events celebrate 40 years of St Brendan’s Community School in Birr. Designed by Peter and Mary Doyle in the 1970s it has been in continuous use since its opening in1980 and is home to a vibrant school community. Recognised internationally as an exemplar of post-war architectural modernism in Ireland the school building also embodies the progressive education and social policies of the 1960s that ‘democratised’ education in Ireland. A recipient of the prestigious ‘Keeping It Modern’ grant, by the Getty Foundation in LA in 2018, the team, led by Professor Gary A. Boyd of Queen’s University Belfast and Aoibheann Ni Mhearáin of John McLaughlin Architects has examined the multiple layers of the school’s history and current social use. The research acknowledges the challenges and vulnerabilities faced by this building along with many buildings of its generation. Together the exhibition and symposium celebrate our 20th century built heritage, revealing their inherent social value and significance, while also considering fundamental questions about their future.
The exhibition shows us the multiple lives of the school. Displaying archival material alongside new research, the exhibition contextualizes the building in its history, place and current use. Through video, photography, models and drawings the work provides a rich portrait of the school, offering us a new understanding of the building’s significance.