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LIMERICK LEADER Saturday 6 February 2010

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F late, when working far out into the night, I have been forced to devise new forms of nourishment; new dishes to bolster and sustain the flagging mind

and body. It is not my intention to belittle hardboiled eggs which have been my wont, nor to deny sardines, but one grows tired of the same thing night after night. I have fried the odd sausage and, now and then, when it was available, I have left my mark on yesterday’s joint, but, as I say, there is the need for change because the stomach is like a playgoer. If you offer the same bill of fare for too long he is liable to kick up and misbehave and a stomach which is out of order has a depressing effect on the brain as any thoughtful man will tell you. Now, when I work I do not like to be disturbed and for that reason the elaborate dish is never to be mine at so late an hour. For company I have calling cats and the odd dog who fancies himself as a yodeller. I like rain which drums companionably against the windows, and I have nothing against noisy winds for although they are boisterous and never aggressive.

@ ON THE WEB

Thesoothingmelody ofboiledspareribs

JohnB.Keane As I have said, my sustenance consists chiefly of hard-boiled eggs and porter, and again I would like to make it clear that they have acquitted themselves well over a long, long period. Recently, however, I made an interesting discovery, but the credit is not all mine for, to tell the truth, it was a chance acquaintance on a train who put we wise. He happened to be

seated next to me and, as happens in such cases, one word borrowed another and we found ourselves in the bar having a quiet drink. It was late and the dining car was out of bounds. I felt somewhat peckish and inevitably we discussed meals and meal-times. “I’m not worried,” my friend said, “for when the train gets in I will pop a few

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spare ribs into the pot and have a good tightener.” “Not roast?” I said. “No,” he said. “Boiled.” As a result of his disclosure, I decided to do likewise at the first given opportunity. A week later I found myself working late again. The fire hummed and hawed and slipped its flames, like greyhounds, up the sooty course of the chimney. My thoughts turned to hard-boiled eggs, sardines and cold meat, but then I remembered that I had, the day before, haphazardly invested in a few pounds of spare ribs. I located them and laid them out in a saucepan. I added the requisite amount of water and placed the saucepan on the fire. There was silence for a while, and then came the faintest of crooning sounds as the water neared the boil. At boiling point the music began. The ribs chuckled and danced and the water bubbled and gurgled. I had, near at hand, a small turnip about the size of a grapefruit. I could have had a larger and better turned-out turnip but small compact turnips have a fatal attraction, as you will agree. I peeled it and sliced it and added the yellow discs to

the bubbling water. Now, I said to myself, we should soon have a merry tune, and no sooner had I so expressed myself than the turnip joined with the water and the bones in a song of rare eloquence and surpassing richness. They made a merry trio, and I listened with great anticipation. The refrain continued and, believe me, it was a varied piece, although completely unrehearsed. The turnips were soothing like bass fiddles and the water plopped and plunged like a piano. The bones were the drums and how beautifully muted they were. Then came the climax, not crashing nor deafening but mellow and consistent. I lifted the cover from the saucepan and complimented myself that my timing had been so nicely judged. I had better point out at this juncture that knives and plates were superfluous for such a repast. A fork is the only implement required, since all is one-way traffic from saucepan to mouth. The first forkful of turnip was a revelation, but the first spare rib was the soul of delight. The spare rib should be taken in both hands, like a water melon or a mouth-organ, and then accurately conveyed to the mouth.

The Leader Interview David Leahy, architect

Behind the design lies the builder of dreams

It’saseasytodoitniceastodoitwrong,saysarchitectDavidLeahyofbuildingahouse.Leahy’sprofessionalreputation issoaring,buthisowngreatestachievement,hesays,isthathischildrenlovethehomehehasdesignedforthefamily

Petula Martyn

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N inscription carved in stone over the entrance to a house situated in Caherconlish reads: ‘Noble house proud and true keep safe the little ones here with you’. Welcome to Elysium, the home of renowned Limerick architect David Leahy. In Greek mythology only warriors favoured by the gods entered Elysium, a land of perfect happiness at the end of the earth. The house in the townland of Inch St Laurence celebrates modern architectural design, but more importantly, it is home for Leahy, his wife Jayne, and their three children, Clara, Christopher and Robyn. Elysium was the domain of the elite, but it is David Leahy’s philosophy that everybody should enjoy a dream home, their own piece of Elysian paradise, more special than they could ever have imagined. Designing stunning homes tailored exclusively for each client, regardless of their budget, is Leahy’s speciality, and this is the service he provides in his native Limerick. Floor to ceiling windows in his office in Riverpoint offer views of the urban beauty of the city, and in contrast, the interior is decorated with an eclectic mix of paintings and historical artefacts, collected by the architect down through the years. The tranquil setting is a work place, a museum and a source of inspiration for Leahy and his clients. Influences of the old and new can be seen in the architectural plans and 3D models of live projects that cover a large table as David talks about his childhood in Ballyclough, his education at Glenstal Abbey and his decision to pursue a career in architecture. The son of Dr John Leahy, a former heart specialist at St John’s and Barringtons Hospitals, and the late Dr Mary Farrell, dermatologist, David enjoyed a privileged upbringing. The ruins of fine houses and castles in County Limerick, including Dromore and Curraghchase, were the playgrounds of his youth and would influence his work later in life. He went to boarding school at Coláiste PICTURE: ADRIAN BUTLER na Rinne in Waterford, aged ten, after We should respect the past, but without future buildings there will be no ‘past of today’, says David Leahy attending Roxborough National School in lived with his wife and their eldest daugh- with the right attitude then you’re happy Ballysheedy. His mother was keen he ter Clara. rather than letting yourself get upset would immerse himself in the Irish lan“I used to always promise Clara that I because a tradesman did not turn up.” guage before he returned to County LimFavourite book - The Six Wives of would design her a house one day with The relationship with the client is inteerick to attend Glenstal Abbey. great big windows and light coming in.” gral to architectural house design The friendships he formed at the board- Henry the VIII The family returned to Limerick in 1997 because a house is tailored to suit the ing school in his early years have lasted and lived in Huntsfield, Dooradoyle, client’s specific requirements. The relathe test of time, and he is still in contact Favourite Irish musician - Gemma Hayes for her “beautiful singing where Leahy set up his own practice in an tionship could last up to two years. with many of his former classmates. extension at the side of the house. “You get a lot more job satisfaction “In Glenstal we had small classes so you voice”. He soon gained a reputation for excel- dealing with a person who is much more really were with your buddies and it was Favourite film - Dr Zhivago lence in the design of one-off houses. appreciative, or a family, and seeing how like we were family.” At the height of the Celtic Tiger, he people enjoy living in the home. I was The intricately decorated chalices that embarked on the long and often arduous lucky enough to have grown up in an are on display in his office are reminiscent Favourite food - Shepherd’s Pie process of designing and building his own architecturally-designed house. I realise of his school days in the Benedictine Favourite holiday destination home after falling in love with a site in the impact that can have on a young perabbey. Caherconlish. son’s upbringing. It is as easy to do it nice, Leahy left Glenstal to further his edu- Thailand “It was some challenge,” he admits, and as it is to do it wrong. cation at the University of Humberside in hence he chose the name Elysium; an “If you are building a house in the counYorkshire where he was surrounded by eternal reward after a brave battle. The tryside the biggest mistake is to pick a historic houses, stately homes and formiexperience was worthwhile because he house out of a magazine and plonk it in dable castles in Northern England. fully appreciates the journey that his the countryside. It has no relevance to “Places like Chatsworth and Castle clients take in aspiring to achieve their where the sun gets up in the morning or Howard. I loved the landscape and the way perfect homes. where it sets at night. The relationship of the architects worked with the landscape, “I know exactly where they are coming the rooms may not be how you as a famand the great vistas that they used.” from. Building a house is the most fan- ily want to live.” After graduating, he worked at a prestastic thing if you want it to be. I always Leahy designs around the pragmatic tigious architectural firm in Portland say to clients that it’s a process and some- requirement of clients, and as the drawPlace, London, for three years. His home times there are delays. If you approach it ings progress, they get a feel for the whole at the time was a basement flat where he

PERSONAL FILE

building, which will be unique to them. There are similarities between some of his house designs in the same way that there are similarities between paintings by the same artist, but the scenes are completely different. “The essence of the house design is totally different for each client,” he says. His reputation in the field of exclusive one-off house design has resulted in enquires from as far afield as the United States and the Middle East, thanks in part to a recent feature in an influential design magazine called The White Book, which is published just twice a year. Leahy offers exclusivity but his service is not exclusive to the wealthy. He has designed all manner of homes, and extensions, from the moderate in size to the very large, and the recession has not led to a decline in demand for his work. “Not everyone was investing in shares or involved in that commercial property end and buying houses to rent,” he said. “A lot of people were quite sensible with their money. And what I’m finding now, the people who are coming in, are building because they are getting good value for money, and they are. People are prepared to do a proper job and not be wasteful with their money.” He is conscious of and careful with everyone’s budget; even budgets for high end houses. “Nobody gives you that kind of open pallet of materials to just spend it like J Lo. That doesn’t happen. There’s always a budget. There’s always a bottom line there.” He works with local authorities across Ireland but finds Limerick County Council the most sensible to work with. “I just find they have good understanding, and are very open to listening to your proposals and working with you.” Leahy casts a keen eye over the architecture of Limerick city from his office at Riverpoint. He stopped to consider his favourite examples of modern design, before choosing the Savoy Hotel and Aidan Brooks’ office development on the revamped Henry Street. “I love Riverpoint,” he said. “I think it is a great building. I’m not saying that because I am here, I would say that anyway. I think it is a shame that during the boom we didn’t get a few more Riverpoints along the river. I think we missed out on the buildings we could have had.” It is also important to the designer that Limerick respects its Georgian heritage while being open to modern interpretations. Everything should be judged on its own merit. “I think there is a lot that modern architecture has to offer and we should avail of that. We should be respectful of the past but also take into account that without future buildings we will have no past of today.” A house is a family home and Leahy is a family man. In his free time, he enjoys nothing more than to spend time with his wife Jayne and their children. His daughter Clara, 16, shares his loves of music and live performance, and his 11year-old son Christopher, “a great character,” is a talented pianist. “My youngest girl, Robyn, has a ferocious appetite for art and she draws constantly. She does everything with great vigour and there is great methodology in what she does. “I do look at her and I think, ‘My God, she definitely has that artistic flair’.” The children love the house their father designed with them in mind, which stands ‘proud and true’, nestled in the County Limerick countryside. “I love my house and my kids love it. They tell me they love the house – which to me is the biggest achievement.”

No further instructions are necessary. The demands of the stomach call the tune thereafter. Suffice it to say here that I had a pleasing and satisfying repast at a total cost of two shillings and sixpence. There followed an excellent pint of stout and I must say that my heart went out to sausage-eaters everywhere. I turned to my writing and it is truly fair to add that the quality of same was much improved and, late though my bed-going was, I awoke feeling refreshed and happy in the morning. To the pig first the praise is due, and, secondly, to turnips everywhere, be they large or small. I have spoken only of the boiled spare rib. Its kinsman, the roast rib, is no less an entity, greasier, perhaps, but in no way detrimental to the digestive tract. There is a lot to be said for hard-boiled eggs, but who will blame me if my thoughts sometimes turn to spare ribs and turnips. The late, great John B. Keane was a Limerick Leader columnist for over 30 years. This column first appeared in our edition of February 13, 1965.

RELIVING THENEWS

with SeanCurtin New houses for Mulgrave Street

From the Limerick Leader

Wednesday, January 15, 1964

Scheme will help remake derelict site

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OMETHING new in Limerick’s all-out housing drive received the approval of members of the Corporation at their usual meeting in the Town Hall on Monday night. A scheme of 19 houses will be built on the site of the existing Kelly’s Range, Mulgrave Street, at the estimated cost of £25,000. The proposal was moved by Councillor Frank Leddin and was seconded by Councillor T. Lawlor and was passed unanimously. Details of the scheme were outlined by the City Architect, Mr. Plunked O’Callaghan in a report as follows: “Kelly’s Range comprises a terrace of twenty six small housing fronting on to Blackboy Road. The houses, many of which are now derelict, but some of which are still occupied, are one-storey, two apartment dwellings, and sub-standard in structure, accommodation, light standards and services. The range occupies a site 45 ft. deep, has a frontage of 565 ft. on the Blackboy Road and is bounded on the east by Mr. St. Laurence’s Cemetery, on the south by the ground of the Limerick District Mental Hospital and on the west by two-storey, red-brick houses of reasonable standard and condition.

Kelly’s Range was included in the Order prepared for Garryowen N. 2 C.P.O., 1957, and all houses except two were contained in the first part of that Order (Clearance Area). The proposal for the redevelopment of Kelly’s Range for housing purposes as shown on Drawing Uimn. 60/1 envisages the demolition of the existing houses and the erection of seventeen two-apartment bungalows and two four-apartment houses. It will be remembered that in the Greenhill/Tankfield Housing Scheme no provision was made for the smaller type dwelling. This proposal would now bring the whole scheme more in line with the idea of providing a balanced type of accommodation. The area of the site, including 20 ft of roadway, is .785 acres, the density of dwellings per acre would be 24.2 and in rooms per acre would be 55. This latter figure corresponds generally with the densities provided in nearly all recent Corporation housing schemes. The twoapartment and four-apartment dwellings are identical with those already approved and in course of erection in St. John’s Housing Scheme, Garryowen. The scheme has been referred to the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. R. Hayes, and he has raised no objection to the form and content of the proposal. It is estimated that the cost of the scheme will be £25,285. Cllr. Leddin stated that he would like to compliment the Manager and his staff on the preparation of such an excellent scheme and added that they should consider also such schemes for Dominick SEE ALSO PAGE 4, LEADER 2 Street and Carey Street (Road) districts.


The Leader Interview David Leahy, Architect