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Building of the Month - June 2008

Shannon Rowing Club, Sarsfield Bridge, PRIORSLAND Td., Limerick, County Limerick

Shannon Rowing Club, Limerick 01 - Representative View 

Limerick is defined by the River Shannon, which runs majestically through what is an ever-expanding city.  Visually the river is the core of the city, and it is from the river that the natural setting of Limerick and its historical development can be most readily appreciated.  Situated on a man-made island connected to Sarsfield Bridge, on the River Shannon, is the Shannon Rowing Club.

In 1902 an inventive young English architect, William Clifford Smith (1881/2-1954), won the international competition to design the club.  On winning the competition, Clifford Smith appears to have settled in Ireland and in 1928 formed a partnership with Edward Newenham.  The practice, known as Clifford Smith & Newenham, amalgamated with the Dublin practice of Dermot Mulligan in 1968 to become Newenham Mulligan & Associates.  The practice continues today.

With the Shannon Rowing Club Clifford Smith gave impetus to an Edwardian freestyle that would mark out the building on Limerick's riverscape.  Edwardian styled architecture is well represented in the city.  The style, which flourished between the years 1890-1914, gave a new flavour to Victorian building types.  In Limerick it was applied to speculative housing, one-off suburban houses, and urban churches.

The style was later applied, to a great extent, in suburban houses in Ennis Road, O'Connell Avenue and Shelbourne Road.  Some of these houses are three-storied with an assortment of balconettes, oculi and timbered gables.  Others have horizontal mullioned windows, and steep roofs with prominent chimney stacks, which owe much to the Arts and Crafts style.  Contrasting materials were also carefully chosen – brick, limestone and pebbledash – combined with Art Nouveau-inspired cast-iron railings.

Shannon Rowing Club, Limerick 02 - Setting 

Some of these elements appear in the Shannon Rowing Club.  Begun in 1902 the club was completed in 1905 at a cost of £2,000.  There is a certain domestic massing to the building, which could sit comfortably among those suburban house in O'Connell Avenue.  The combination of bay windows and projecting timbered gables, along with such small details as the Art Nouveau-inspire repousée finger plates on the interior doors, speak of a domestic-inspired composition.  Asymmetry and the enlargement of such features as the arches, brackets, columns and corbels are particularly attractive features of this Edwardian styled building

All photography by Don Allen from the NIAH publication An Introduction of the Architectural Heritage of Limerick City

Shannon Rowing Club, Limerick 03 - Introduction 

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