Do You See What I See? Revisioning Ireland’s Orange Halls

Research output: Contribution to journalEssaypeer-review


I am fascinated by buildings so ubiquitous yet truly seen by few. What fascinates
me is the very idea of buildings seemingly designed to keep people out. To keep the world at bay. Fortified and impenetrable. Architecturally so unadorned, so still and rigid, they seem to desire invisibility. Like the fear felt when walking home alone at night, when it seems even the slightest breath or movement may betray your whereabouts. Despite their defences, many are open to persistent attack. How do buildings so architecturally incongruous remain unrecognised by so many, or are they only distinctive to the trained eye? Does that trained eye see them as still relevant, or rather with a wistful sense of a lost past? Are they objects of hate, deserving of destruction? Using photography as my research tool, this visual paper will simultaneously make visible and abstract these ‘Orange Halls’ – traditional Protestant meeting spaces of a culture into which I was born, but to which I no longer subscribe, and from which I have spent 30 years in flight – mirroring their conflicted sociocultural status.They sit either defiantly or largely invisible in the landscape which created them, architectural markers of a rapidly diminishing culture – once the highly visible majority – that is now inevitably becoming the minority. This visual essay will combine photographic images of Orange Halls taken in my native Ireland with creative nonfiction text and field notes, to explore the tension between the visible and invisible, and how, like Foucault’s analogy of the mirror, I see both the presence and absence of myself in these unique buildings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalWorking Titles
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished online - 14 Nov 2023


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