Forgotten Moments in Irish History

Forgotten Moments in Irish History

Modernist.ie founder Matt Retallick will be featuring an ongoing series on FAC, exploring the history of Irish design. Here’s a few words about his project to get us started.


Think of Modernism and Ireland and you probably think of literature, of Joyce and Yeats, Beckett and Bowen. Then type Irish design into Google and you’re bombarded with clipart Celtic knots, harp fridge magnets and Aran sweaters from Carrolls Irish Gifts; but hiding in plain sight is a side of Éire that’s barely mentioned.

I started the Instagram account modernist.ie back in April this year as a visual archive of Irish design, architecture and culture from the modernist period. Of course, the timeline of modernism is debated, but I feature anything from 1916 and 1996. I wanted to prove Ireland’s incredible legacy of ambitious, forward-thinking modernist design and architecture, and to remind followers of forgotten moments in our history. So, expect everything from cigarette packets, concrete churches, typography, political posters, tower blocks, and advertising.

I’ve been amazed by the response so far, and I receive messages almost every day from people who tell me they are now reconsidering the history of Irish design, which is great. Although I’m an Irish citizen (my family are from Terenure) I currently live in Manchester, UK. This doesn’t stop me hunting down images, finding them from a number of sources including online, books, pamphlets, archives, and also use my own collection. My logo was designed by the brilliant Rueville Studio and depicts tower blocks rising from a pot of gold, I loved the concept, the new from the old. Things have definitely only just started, but I hope modernist.ie grows and grows with a website and merchandise also in the works.

Check out the instagram for Modernist.ie here.



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