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.


3 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…

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