A new TV documentary series, ‘Building Ireland’, starting this Friday, 30th September, will explore and explain how Ireland’s greatest building and engineering achievements came to be, and the impact they had on the development of our towns and cities.

‘Building Ireland’, will air at 8.30pm on RTÉ One on Friday, 30th September, with five more episodes airing in the same time-slot over the following five weeks.

The series will be presented by Tim Joyce, a civil engineer from East Galway; Cork native and geographer, Dr. Susan Hegarty; and award-winning architect Orla Murphy.  The presenters previously worked on the first series of ‘Building Ireland’, which aired on RTÉ One in 2014.

The documentary series will run for six weeks, and will include, among others, programmes on:

  • Spike Island, Co. Cork, which served as a prime defensive location for the British Empire, as well as functioning as part of the Irish prison system, housing up to 2,500 men at its height in 1850. Spike Island has opened up to the public in recent months, after undergoing a €5.5million upgrade and enhancement project, funded by Cork City Council and Fáilte Ireland. In contrast to the stark prison regime on Spike Island, architect Orla Murphy will examine the residential architecture of Cobh and the influence the prosperous middle class had on the town in the aftermath of the Irish Famine. A short preview of the programme can be viewed here: facebook.com/BuildingIreland/videos.
  • Kilkenny Castle – Architect Orla Murphy will explore the history of Kilkenny Castle, while geographer Dr. Susan Hegarty will take a look at the layout of Kilkenny as a medieval city. Engineer Tim Joyce will investigate the great flood of 1763, which caused many bridges in Kilkenny City and county to be swept away.  The loss of these bridges led to engineers devising creative and robust solutions to re-unite the city and replace the lost bridges along the Nore, such as Green’s Bridge, whose design is a copy of the Palladian architecture of the Roman bridge at Rimini, but only on the city side.
  • Ardnacrusha Power Station in Co. Limerick – Engineer Tim Joyce will visit the Ardnacrusha power station to explore the innovative engineering that made it the biggest hydroelectric project in the world when it opened in 1929. Susan Hegarty will investigate the River Shannon as a source of power, while Orla Murphy discovers the German influences in the construction of the buildings.

The series was produced by Esras Films in association with director Brian Gray for RTÉ with the help of Sound and Vision funding from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, with the support of incentives for the Irish Film Industry provided by the Government of Ireland.

Commenting on the series, Peter Kelly, Managing Director of Esras Films, said: “We’re extremely lucky in Ireland to have a fascinating built heritage.  The majority of people walk past buildings every day of their lives that are steeped in architectural significance.  However, many of us pay little attention to the history of the buildings that surround us.  ‘Building Ireland’ is all about awakening people’s curiosity about landmark sites and buildings throughout the country.”

Also commenting on the series, presenter Orla Murphy said: “The importance of programmes like ‘Building Ireland’ goes beyond audience figures.  There is a need in Ireland to engage the public with the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, and with our industrial heritage and natural landscape.  ‘Building Ireland’ brings viewers on a journey around various towns in Ireland and explains aspects of built heritage and local landscapes which many people may see on a daily basis, but which they rarely question.  This is the power of public broadcasting at its height – creating a public who are informed and enthusiastic about their surroundings, and proud of their heritage.”

Further information about ‘Building Ireland’ can be found here: www.facebook.com/BuildingIreland.