THE EARLY YEARS OF THE R.I.A.I. IN CORK


Neil Hegarty for the RIAI Southern Region A.G.M., 28th November, 2007


Local members of the R.I.A.I. first held a meeting in Cork on 14th March 1924. The following were appointed to form the Cork Committee for the ensuing year :- Messrs J.J. Bowen, D.J. Buckley, C.A. Harrington, W.H. Hill, H.H. Hill, S.F. Hynes, D.A.Levie, J.F. McMullan, D.M. O'Connor ,B. O'Flynn, R.Walker.

The Suggested Rules.
The functions of the committee shall be to consider and investigate any subject appertaining to the profession of Architecture in the City and County of Cork and to make such reports and suggestions thereon as may be thought fit in writing to the Council and to perform such other duties as shall from time to time be assigned to them.

The Committee shall appoint its own officers. Five members shall form a quorum. The Council shall retain the power to reverse or annul any decisions of the Committee. Quarterly reports to be submitted by the Committee to Council.

It was formally established on 9th October, 1924 when the officers for the remainder of the year were elected, Mr. James F. McMullan as Chairman and D. M O'Connor as Hon. Sec. Correspondence with the Cork Industrial Development Association was a highlight of this period. The Association was trying to persuade architects and clients to use local materials and labour rather than import them. A particularly contentious issue was shopfronts . Plasterboard, a new material on the market was also discussed. Contractors were pressing to have Bills of Quantities provided with tender documentation. The Committee was active until 30th March, 1936 when its last meeting was held.

On 31st January 1941 Henry H. Hill wrote to the Hon. Sec. R.I.A.I. suggesting a revival of what he called the Cork Chapter whose members he thought would be:- J.R. Boyd-Barrett, J.J. Bowen, D.J.Buckley, W.J. Buchan, C.A. Harrington H.H. Hill, W.H. Hill, D.A. Levie, J.P. Martin, T.G. Nolan, D.M. O'Connor, B. O'Flynn, E.P. O'Flynn and J.E. Wilkinson.

Council requested the records which Mr. Hill forwarded with this letter:-


February 25th 1941.
John D. O'Gorman Esq.,
Hon. Sec. R.I.A.I.,
8, Merrion Square,
Dublin

Dear Mr. O'Gorman, Replying to your letter of the 19th inst., the records of the Cork Chapter are to be found in the minute book which this letter accompanies.
You will see that no meeting has been held for the past five years, and that at several previous meetings there was no quorum.
As I am writing I take the opportunity of raising a matter which I think the Council ought to bring before the notice of the public.
There must be a good many people in the country who contemplate building projects of one kind or another which they intend to put into effect as soon as circumstances permit.
We architects have very little to do at present and are in a position to give such problems personal time and thought now.
If people could only bring their problems to us at this time we could prepare rough sketch plans, involving our clients only in a small liability to us, and they, and we, would have plenty of time to consider these problems very thoroughly, so that when the day for building arrives thoroughly digested schemes could be put in hands.
My experience is that very few clients realise how long it takes to get really to the bottom of their needs,(which at the start they rarely know themselves) and after that how long it takes to prepare a really careful and thorough set of working plans and specifications.

Yours faithfully,
Henry H. Hill.



A special meeting of Council was held on 24th July, 1941 which said there was never in fact a Cork Chapter. The status of the local body is that of a committee. The matter was referred to a sub-committee who responded on 8th October, 1941 and whose recommendations Council approved on 16th October ,1941. The principal changes from the initial Rules was that the report to Council should be annual rather than quarterly and should be accompanied by a financial statement and the committee's secretarial expenses shall be deferred by the Institute.

The first meeting was held on November 24th, 1941 at which were present Messrs J.R. Boyd-Barrett, H.H. Hill, D.M. O'Connor, E.P. O'Flynn and J.E. Wilkinson, Mr. Hill was elected Hon Sec.

The members strongly expressed their unanimous view that the Cork Committee should both in some way be represented up on Council and that the out-of-pocket expenses of a Cork member attending Council meetings should be deferred by the Institute.

In 1942 items for discussion included a new form of contract and the Committee decided not to trouble Council with its expenses as they hardly exceeded a couple of shillings.

On September 6th,1943 the late W.H.(Bill) Reidy, who wanted to study Architecture, wrote to the R.I.A.I. suggesting a School of Architecture be established in Cork at U.C.C. Council forward the letter to the Cork Committee for their consideration. A school was not established in time for Mr. R eidy who entered the School of Architecture U.C.D. in October 1943. Council wrote to him on 18th November, 1943 saying that it would appear that it would not be possible to have a School of Architecture set up in Cork in the near future. U.C.D. had informed Council that there was usually no more than one person from Cork City and County in any one of their five years course. Bill Reidy ended his career as principal Building Surveyor with Cork Corporation.

During 1944 meetings were about Post-War Building and fees for Fire Prevention, Litigation and Arbitration.

No formal meetings were held in 1945,1946, and 1947 and was so reported to Council.

 

THE ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY
OF CORK

 

A GUIDE TO CORK'S 20TH CENTURY ARCHITECTURE (1.4MB pdf)

by Tom Spalding

An imprint of the Cork Civic Trust and the RIAI Southern Region, funded by the Environmental Fund
of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Cork, July 2010

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