Here's one for the books
Published 20/11/2007 | 07:14
One thousand and one buildings you must see before you die -- and no fewer than 13 of them are in Ireland. Well, that's according to a new book, at any rate. Eager as always to know how others see us, we will surely take great pride in finding our most beautiful or most important buildings up there with Notre Dame and Christopher Wren's St Paul's cathedral.
Some of the nominations will strike us as no more than we deserve. Newgrange for antiquity, of course; Castletown House for beauty and opulence.
Busaras? No "of course" about Busaras. Aesthetes have praised it for its "art deco" style. Their views prevailed to the extent that it even appeared on a postage stamp. But the average Dubliner thinks that the place is hideous.
And the joker in the pack? For most people the RTE headquarters in Donnybrook, Dublin 4, if it ever comes to their notice, is just another run-of-the-mill modern building. The compilers of this book take a strikingly different view.
For them, the building "asserted a new optimism in Irish life" as we emerged from the postwar recession. It represented "a new level of aspiration for Irish architecture and a visible expression of the Irish State's rhetoric of modernisation".
Perhaps we should look at our major buildings with new eyes. And perhaps we should ask ourselves, not how others see us but how well the new work represents 21st-century Ireland.