An important corner building in Bantry:
A lovely house in Abbeyleix, damaged most of all by a ghastly plastic door:
A lovely landmark curved building in whatâ€™s probably Kenmare. The windows are what make this faÃ§ade, or rather what once
And as for this key building in Kinsale â€“ I donâ€™t want to know what is going on with those window openings, one can only image the type of window that once was, not least in the window Aladdinâ€™s Cave that is Kinsale
It is simply not possible to exaggerate the level of window destruction across the country â€“ it is mind-numbing to see the damage done thus far. There is very simply very little left of our window heritage in the southeast at least, a sad statement of fact.
For an area that is renowned for its wonderful collection of original shopfronts, it is most frustrating to see the conservation ethos end at the ground floor cornice line.
Also in more rural areas I noted quite a few farmhouses seem to be replacing their modernising 70s aluminium frames with PVC â€“ have they not learned from last time round?!
Without doubt the PVC capital of Ireland, if not Western Europe, is Killarney. Hadnâ€™t visited there in about ten years (though even then you could make out what direction it was going). But now I can say that it is officially the naffest, crassest, cheapest, most vulgar place one can imagine.
The amount of sprawling development around the perimeter of the town is as astounding as the monstrousness of the architecture. There is PVC everywhere
Every last faÃ§ade, facia and window aperture is clad, supported or stuffed with the muck. It is unbelievable.
I think Killarney really encapsulates the PVC â€˜issueâ€™ in Ireland, i.e. just how impressive the PVC marketing machine has been in managing to move into a market and in the space of 15 years completely dominate it, to the point of pushing the alternative to the brink of extinction. It is amazing how â€˜a windowâ€™ in Ireland is now essentially a PVC frame, rather than timber as once was, or indeed alu-timber, aluminium or steel.
How the market has changed â€“ to the extent that when one goes out to buy windows for a new-build, in 95% of cases it seems nothing else is even considered. How has this extraordinary turnaround happened?
From what Iâ€™ve seen, the new-build house market is utterly
dominated by PVC in the south and west â€“ easily 95% would be of PVC from what I saw, with a small smattering of white aluminium included in that.
And this has another major consequence too â€“ variety has disappeared. Now the vast majority of all modern windows are not only plastic, but also white.
And the design of windows (ignoring the woeful nature of it by and large) is equally homogeneous â€“ the same plastic grids, the same apertures, the same vertical casement topped with a smaller top-hinged one, the same chunky proportions, the same lack of depth and reliefâ€¦
Variety has been killed off.
But really, PVC windows in older buildings - very simply they are sketches, outlines, imitations of what used to be there â€“ not real-life frames that contribute to the architecture, but mere drawings, simulations of what once was.
The PVC window frame, and especially the plastic grid, is not just an affront to the dignity of period buildings, but an insult to architecture on a much broader level.
I take some consolation from the fact that PVC hasnâ€™t quite conquered yet as the building on the countryâ€™s most south-westerly point on Mizen Head, essentially â€˜Irelandâ€™s last buildingâ€™, has managed to hold onto its lovely sashes
Long may they live.
(Iâ€™ll give em six months)