Buildings of the Irish Town and Countryside

An exhibition of Maura Shaffrey’s drawings from the books The Buildings of Irish Towns and Irish Countryside Buildings following their recent donation to the Irish Architectural Archive


Main Street, Ballydehob, Co. Cork


‘Buildings are an expression of civilisation and values.’
Patrick and Maura Shaffrey, Preface to Buildings of Irish Towns, 1983


Church of Ireland, Ardmore, Co. Armagh


Maura Shaffrey (1940-1997) was one of Ireland’s leading conservation architects. Her passionate interest in historic buildings permeated all of her work. She was among the best-informed Irish architects in this area, having completed a post-graduate degree in the Institute of Advance Architectural Studies, University of York, on the conservation of O’Connell Street, Dublin. With her husband Patrick, she established Shaffrey Associates in 1967 and the firm retains to this day an ethos built on their commitment to principles of conservation and sustainability.


Farm complex, Dunmore, Co. Kilkenny


Maura was company secretary of the Irish Architectural Archive, convenor of the planning sub-committee of the Irish branch of ICOMOS, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, and a long-standing member of An Taisce. Her major projects included the King House, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ardfert Cathedral, Co. Kerry (winner of the RIAI Triennial Silver Conservation Medal 1999-2001) and Wicklow Head Lighthouse.


Carnegie Library, George’s Square, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin


Buildings of Irish Towns by Patrick and Maura Shaffrey was published in 1983 and was followed in 1985 by Irish Countryside Buildings. These two books constitute an extraordinary record of ordinary buildings. Paddy and Maura recognised the value and dignity of the commonplace, the everyday, and in these publications they celebrated a vernacular architecture which had been for too long overlooked and unappreciated. Along the way they discovered an array of remarkable architectural gems, both public and private, across the island of Ireland.


Patrick and Maura Shaffrey, c. 1985


The books were heavily illustrated, using photographs and line-drawings to emphasise and inform. But the undoubted stars of both publications were the full colour reproductions of original watercoloured drawings by Maura Shaffrey. This exhibition presents a selection of these drawings chosen from over 120 originals which have recently been donated to the Irish Architectural Archive by the Shaffrey family. With both books equally represented, the drawings retain a vivid freshness and vitality, conveying both Maura’s joy in discovering these wonderful buildings and her zeal to communicate their importance to as wide an audience as possible.


Roancarrig Lighthouse, Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork