Learning from Castleblayney: conversation and action in a small Irish town
Miriam Delaney and Orla Murphy
The purpose of this chapter is to describe the evolution of a travelling installation by a travelling installation named Free Market and its subsequent political role as a catalyst for rural town and street regeneration in Ireland. It outlines the aims, design and outcomes of Free Market,1 a touring architectural exhibition and public engagement programme, atypical in its ambition to align political action with close listening and public engagement. The chapter focuses on the installation of Free Market in the small market town of Castleblayney, tracking the impact of the project. There were several lessons learnt in combining horizontal engagement on the street with vertical action in political advocacy and policy making. These include the importance of a physical presence in towns, around which political action can coalesce; the significance of deep listening to both grassroots and the vertical institutions of power; and the fact that socially engaged practice needs to work simultaneously at multiple levels to have significant long-term impact.
About Miriam Delaney
Miriam Delaney is an architect, lecturer and PhD candidate at the Dublin School of Architecture, TUDublin. She was part of the Free Market team which represented Ireland at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale and works as a consultant for community-led rural town regeneration projects.
About Orla Murphy
Orla Murphy is an architect and Lecturer at University College Dublin. Her research focuses on towns, and engaged practice that considers their resilience and future(s). She is co-director of the UCD Centre for Irish Towns and a member of the High Level Round Table of the New European Bauhaus.