County Hall

Carrigrohane Straight

The County Hall competes with the University's Science Building and the Opera House for the title of Cork's ugliest modern building. However, because it is so bold, so daring, so tall, it only manages third place. Designed by P.L. McSweeney it stands at the end of the Carrigrohane Straight. The road gets it's name by being perfectly straight as far as Carrigrohane, several kilometres away, and was frequently used for attempts on speed records.

The County Hall houses the administration and chambers of Cork County Council. That Cork is the largest county in Ireland goes some way to explaining why this is Ireland's tallest building. However, it is the County Hall's location that makes it all the more baffling. Unlike most skyscrapers, which extend upwards rather than outwards due to space constraints, the County Hall has few neighbours. When built it could conceivably have been a single-storey structure as long as it is tall. Wholly unremarkable and ugly if surrounded by other tall structures, the County Hall's location gives it an arrogant beauty.

The County Hall's deliberate height is an expression of modern Ireland's genuine, but rather self-conscious confidence. It is best appreciated as an embodiment of Ireland's urban and rural schizophrenia, marking the boundary between Cork City and County Cork, it is a skyscraper surrounded, for the most part, by fields.

This is the last stop on the guided tour.
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