A Mere Shell of Itself


A corner of the Shell House in the gardens of Kinoith, County Cork, otherwise known as the Ballymaloe Cookery School. This charming octagonal structure was created by artist Blott Kerr-Wilson in 1995 to mark the silver wedding anniversary of Kinoith’s owners, Tim and Darina Allen. As you can see, the whole interior is covered in an enormous variety of shells, at least some of which – those formerly holding a mussel or scallop – passed across the tables of Ballymaloe House.

6 comments on “A Mere Shell of Itself

  1. Tom says:

    I have to confess, I think this is hideous! Far to redolent of the beach dives in Africa in which I tried and failed to drown my many sorrows de jour while fighting off the local fauna so I could smoke the flora in peace.

  2. Well, we can’t hope to win all the people all the time. Actually in the Irish countryside, and in the middle of the gardens of Kinoith this little pavilion, with a yellow wash on its exterior walls, is something of a delight. I should also perhaps have pointed out that the building continues a tradition going back to the 18th century when shell houses were created at Carton, County Kildare and Curraghmore, County Waterford, both of which survive. But of course you are entitled to your opinion!

  3. Tom says:


    I have been praying for rain and the Heavens opened last night blessing parched soil. I must away and weed, till and plant seed. This will give me ample opportunity as my body, if not my soul, is cleansed by a gift from above to consider how a flippant remark of mine admitting an aversion to walls plastered with sea shells may have unintentially caused offence.

    I had paused in the dark eight of the clock in the evening gaurantees in the tropics merely to ensure the guys helping me received a decent meal giving me a chance to sink a beer, eat a cheese sandwich grasped by fingers topped by nails ingrained with honest dirt and to set my laptop and speakers up to play music for the troops as they were fed when I saw your comment (I follow your blog by email). I shall now return to work my field through the night (nature is my alarm clock) somewhat discomfited thinking that not only have I upset you but that no matter how guilty I feel, I will always hate walls impressed with sea shells.

    Can we please agree to differ? I really do like your blog. It’s just that where I live, we are kind of knee deep in sea shells and here they are used instead of wallpaper and to cover driveways.

    I am fifty four years old. Have you any idea how deep one has to dig to conjure up any kind of convincing enthusiasm when one’s four year old son son dumps the sandy detritus of the beach on one’s desk saying, ‘Daddy! Look! I found some sea shells!’

  4. My dear fellow, being the same age as yourself I certainly don’t take offence at comments so please trouble yourself no further on the matter. Besides, you are entitled to an alternative opinion. I’d much rather you continued to enjoy my blog. Enjoy your digging; it remains too cold here in Ireland to engage in such activity (minus zero temperatures promised yet again tonight…)

  5. Lawrie Weed says:

    Did Blott (what an interesting name) do the shell room at Churchill?

  6. I think so, yes. Also the Dillons’ lavatory!

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