Your Mother Eire Is Always Young
Michael Scott



1


Michael Scott, 1985

©Monica Pidgeon


My father felt strongly that painting was no good for anybody, and I loved painting. I spent all my days as a boy painting and I wanted to be an artist. But he wouldn't hear of it. He said I'd make no money as a painter, I'd better be an architect and that would be the next best thing. So I said all right I will be an architect. I joined the firm of Messrs. J. & K. when I left school. My father apprenticed me to them. They were very kind nice men but they had very curious views on architecture. For a start they only liked Gothic or Renaissance type of design. They wouldn't hear of anything creative or modern. So as I spent some years with them it took me quite a while to get their ideas out of my head. When I left them and started to look at what was happening all over the world, I read about the Bauhaus, it was a remarkable place. It was a remarkable place. And that was early 20's as far as I remember. And Gropius was a great man to me. So all that time I hadn't heard of Mies van der Rohe. I'd heard a lot about Gropius, or read a lot about him. I didn't know about Mies until quite late in my learning about architecture, but Mies was a stunning man. And Mies van der Rohe became my king. Of course I knew about Frank Lloyd Wright and Corbusier. They were famous names to me and I met Corbusier once. I never met Frank Lloyd Wright. But they all disappeared into insignificance in comparison with Mies van der Rohe. He was a giant. He shadowed everybody and everything. His buildings were superb. The detailing was quite lovely, elegant, refined and really very beautiful. In my early days I did some interesting things. For instance I was architect to Hilton Edwards and Micheál Mac Liammóir to build the Gate Theatre, and that was an old 18th century concert hall with a platform at the far end where I put the stage, and it was open to a great fanfare. These people were marvellous, Edwards and Mac Liammóir, quite remarkable people of the theatre. I used to act for the Abbey and the Gate. I'd leave the office at 5 o'clock and go down to the Abbey where there would be rehearsals of one sort and another and I acted in various very good plays. I liked it, it was fun, a fun thing to do, but it wasn't serious for me. Architecture was very serious, acting wasn't. However, I went to London to act, and I told my friend who brought me that I must get a name that nobody in London would know, and he gave me the name of Wolf Curran. I thought it was a brilliant name because these are two names of two famous Irish patriots, Wolfe Tone and Sarah Curran. There I was doing drawings in the dressing room No. 1, drawing the dressing room and the theatre. I was still doing architecture. I wasn't concerned that much about the theatre itself.





2


The New Abbey Theatre, Dublin, 1966 (With Ronald Tallon). Façade

©Michael Blake


But coming a bit later in life, then of course I was architect for the Abbey Theatre, doing work on the old building, and particularly the foyer. I took away arches that were supposed to hold up the floor but they were holding nothing, and made a place for putting hats and coats and coffee and that sort of thing. Then that theatre burned down and I was there the night it was burnt. Poor old Lennox Robinson was hovering above the flames. He tried to get out the paintings of the Abbey. The Abbey had a lot of very good paintings and he did get most of them out. I helped a bit. There was a man called Ernest Blythe and he was Fine Gael deputy in the Dáil in the early days in government and he hated the Fianna Fáil party which was de Valera's party. This time the Fianna Fáil party were in control and when the Abbey was to be rebuilt he was there, and he was a very strong man, strong views, but he was very nice in many other ways. And he didn't want to do anything that would hurt the government in case he'd be thrown out.







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