Just a Shell

On Bishop Street in Ballyshannon, County Donegal stands the now-ruinous ‘Shell House.’ Dating from c.1880, the building’s name derives from the decoration of its façade, probably applied in the middle of the last century. The greater part of the surface has been covered with a mixture of shells and small pieces of broken china arranged in geometrical patterns. This appears to have been inspired by the grander shell houses and follies created in the 18th century and found on estates like Carton, County Kildare and Curraghmore, County Waterford. Sadly this example of vernacular embellishment is now in poor repair and sections of the ornamentation have already been lost: the rest is sure to follow soon.


6 comments on “Just a Shell

  1. upsew says:

    such a lovely piece of work

  2. Finola says:

    There’s a very fine example at the Ballymaloe Cooking School.

    • Yes, it is very handsome but in that instance – as so many others – the shell decoration is inside, waiting to be discovered. What makes this building special is that the shells (and broken china) have been applied to the exterior of the house…

  3. Bernadette sears says:

    This beautiful ruin. Has been in my ex husbands family for many years his name was Frank Gallagher and was born in this house. Unfortunately he passed away last year at the age of 75. It was owned then by his father and mother. James and Margret Gallagher née Lawn.

  4. Kenny Rodgers says:

    This is where my mother was born 1918 then house was in Anderson family before they moved to Belfast Kenny Rodgers

    • Bernadette sears says:

      My ex husband Frank Gallagher was born in this house in January 1947. The house is still owned by the Gallagher family.

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