Miriam Meets...

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    Miriam Meets... Sunday 13 January 2013

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    Miriam meets....architects Kevin Roche and Cathal O Neill

    Miriam O'Callaghan interviews architects Kevin Roche and Cathal O Neill, both graduates of UCD. They tell Miriam about their experience in going to America in the 1940s and 1950s, respectively, and Kevin explains why he chose to stay while Cathal chose to return to Dublin. They describe living in Chicago, working with the legendary Mies van der Rohe and the lively jazz music scene in the city.

    Kevin grew up in Mitchelstown, County Cork. His father, Eamon, had been an active Republican but had traded politics for creamery management during a very dynamic period in the history of Mitchelstown creamery. Kevin wasn't successful in school, but his father enrolled him in Archtecture in UCD.

    Cathal grew up in Dublin, moving to the suburbs when his father's expanding football business took over the family home in Capel Street. His talent for drawing was spotted by his primary school teacher who told him he should be an architect.

    Both men started their careers at the drawing board and continue to draw their buildings despite the increasing use of computers in their profession.

    Both men talk to Miriam about the advice that they give younger entrants to their profession. They have the chance to shape the community in which people will live, according to Kevin. Cathal explains that they should have faith in their own vision and not be swayed by clients or fashion.

    Kevin has lived away from Ireland since the 1940s but still enjoys exploring the places he knew in Dublin and Mitchelstown as a young man by using Google Earth.

    They tell Miriam about their next projects - Cathal is reviewing Temple Bar to suggest some modifications to improve the area, Kevin continues to work with the Metropolitan Museum in New York and is planning an arts centre that can be built from the rubble of Haiti.

    Given that Cathal is in his 80s and Kevin in his 90s, both men tell Miriam that the among the things that have contributed to them having long and happy lives is their decision to never retire!

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