On a quiet lane in Rural Tipperary stands a tiny two story cottage of a vernacular very common in the Golden Vale. It harks back to an older age when people lived simple lives, subsisting envionmentally on the land. It was a live devoid of any excess in materialism. Consumer culture was a distant dream, something you might hear hints of from distant American relatives in the Christmas letter they sent home with cast off clothes that became brand new again for poor Irish kids.
In these days of McMansions it is hard to believe that a tiny cottage like this might be home to a Catholic family in an era before family planning. Granny slept in a settle near the range for the warmth. A half dozen boys and girls topped and tailed in an old double bed in what should be the parlour. Mother and Father slept in the attic with the babies nearby. As children became teenagers they were farmed out, the boys to labour on farms, the girls to service in big houses.
The cottage is a lovely design, proportiate, sitting gracefully in its environment, built well, built to last. No longer fit for the lives we lead.
The original single glaze wooden sash windows were torn out and replaced with double glaze uPVC. Less environmentally friendly, less pretty, less drafty, more energy efficient, a balancing act of confusing priorities.
And so, in the era of the Celtic Tiger when property madness struck the nation, the owner attempted to extend the old girl. He slapped on a blockhouse to the back. The first floor sills speak of an ambition to go up to the level of that elegant apex roof.
The floorplan will be doubled at the expense of any attempt to preserve the original design. But the work stopped a long time ago. I would love to know why. Was it the market crash and the 2008 recession? Did the funds dry up? Did confidence in the ability to secure a sale wane? Did the bank choke it off stillborn? Or did some diligent planner leap in just in time to preserve the existing building?
Back at the front the door is secured by a pink girls bicycle lock, a head nod to the most crass aspects of the consumer madness that struck this country. The pink aisle at Smyths Toy Superstore in the run up to Christmas. A temple to cheap Chinese manufacturing and dodgy work practices.
This building should be preserved, in its current state, to serve as a symbol of that madness, and a warning to future generations.