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Michael Scott (1905-1989) was born in Drogheda, County Louth in 1905. His family originated in County Kerry and he was educated at Belvedere College, Dublin. There he first demonstrated his skills at painting and acting. Initially he wanted to pursue a career as a painter but his father pointed out that it might make more financial sense to become an architect. Later in life Scott said about his childhood: I think he was right because I've always been interested in shaping materials since the day, when aged six, to my delight, I caught a glimpse beneath my teacher's skirts of a well formed wooden leg.(Steedman, 1975, p. 35)
Like most other Irish architects of his day Michael Scott did not study architecture at the Schools of Architecture, but was articled as an apprentice for the sum of £375 per annum to the Dublin firm of Jones and Kelly. There, between 1923 and 1926, he studied under Alfred E. Jones.
Jones and Kelly were at this time a conservative practice. They were responsible for housing estates at Mount Merrion, Dublin based on the garden city ideal and for the last major public classical building to be built in Ireland - Cork City Hall, finished in 1935, on which Scott worked for a time. Scott later claimed that it was not until he left Jones and Kelly that he became aware of the trends of modern architecture while in fact the firm had a great architectural library with many books on current European architecture and design of the period.
During his apprenticeship, Scott joined Sarah Allgood's (1883-1950) School of Acting at the Abbey Theatre and appeared in many plays there until 1927, including the first productions of Sean O'Casey's (1884-1964) Juno and the Paycock and The Plough and The Stars. During the period 1923-1926, he was also studying art at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art in the evenings, alongside such people as Maurice MacGonigal (1900-1979) and Nano Reid (1905-1981), and under the tutelage of Sean Keating (1889-1978), who was Professor of Painting. These relationships were to prove important, as Scott was to commission work from these artists in later years. In 1926 he was elected head of the Students Union and organised an Arts Week with lectures, plays and exhibitions. He took the lead role in a play during this Arts Week, King Argimenes and the Unknown Warrior - the set was designed by Maurice MacGonigal. Scott's total immersion in the arts and Dublin artistic society through his acting and painting was to provide important contacts in future years and be the source of valuable commissions for his firm.
After leaving Jones and Kelly, he worked for a time in the offices of Charles J. Dunlop as chief assistant architect followed by a year in the Office of Public Works Architects' Department designing headstones. He was responsible for the conversion of the Gate Theatre, Dublin at this time. This was for Hilton Edwards (1903-1982), who was to remain a life-long friend, and involved the conversion of the Ballroom and the Supper Rooms above, into an auditorium and the construction of a stage in an adjoining room. After Edward's death, Scott inherited his share holding in the theatre.