Rory Mcardle | Landscaper & Historian
When it comes to history, I’m not the best at keeping focused, if reading it myself. When someone is telling me about history as we walk past some two thousand year old relic or weave amongst an old culture that has been around for as long as we know, then I’m as awake and intrigued as a kid watching a magic trick. Ireland is full of history and I was fortunate enough to trade with Rory, a man who can tell you the history of anything your eyes can see and your mind can wonder about.
The Pixel Trade was spending a few days in Rory’s family home, an old military barracks called Aghavannagh, in Wicklow county. It was built over 200 years ago and Rory has been renovating it himself over the last few calendar cycles. The goal is for the building to become a space for artist residencies, while preserving the history of the building, as it’s the last of its kind. I photographed Aghavannagh and another project Rory has been working on which involves uncovering the past somewhat too.
Interview with Rory
What is one of the most interesting discoveries you found when studying history?
Nationalism is farcical.
What was the process of purchasing Aghavannagh barracks?
Aghavannagh was bought in 2009 after the economic crash.
Is there a historical story about the place that you have discovered?
The building seems to have touched every phase of Irish history for two hundred years. It saw Redcoats, RIC, Parnell, Redmond, the IRA took it over during the civil war and the wonderful An Oige ran it has a hostel for fifty years. There are many stories.
What do you want to transform the barracks into?
A place of warmth, generosity and beauty.
What book are you reading at the moment and what’s it about?
Harvest by Jim Grace.
When was the last time you felt defeated by something in life?
There are too many angles to look at in any given scenario to ever feel defeated.
If there was one thing you could teach a group of kids, what would it be?
Describe your most memorable adventure as an adult.
Restoring Aghavannagh. It has challenged and rewarded me more than any journey or academic degree I have undertaken.
If you had to recommend a favourite music album, what would it be?
Astral Weeks, Van the Man