RTE Television

Building Ireland

BUILDING IRELAND is going to explore and explain how Ireland's great building and engineering achievements came to be, and their impact on the development of our towns and cities. In the company of an enthusiastic team of experts, the series marries local heritage with technology and engineering, in a popular cross-thematic format. Architectural history, geography and engineering are the disciplines brought to bear; each programme focuses on a prime example of our built heritage and recounts the story of its construction.

The technological challenge will be set in an historical and geographical context, with reference to the social-economic impact of the build. Communicating these themes with competence, excitement and accessibility is the task for the able team of presenters - Architect Orla Murphy, Engineer Tim Joyce and Geographer Dr Susan Hegarty. This is the team investigating what was done and how, where it was done and why, and who built it and when.

BUILDING IRELAND is exclusively interested in built heritage that's in the public space and noteworthy for its social, historical or physical impact. The documentaries capture the excitement of a re-discovery of Ireland's past and engage passionate contributors who share their insights with the presenting team. The series examines the wider socio-cultural impact of built heritage, on places and people in the unique historical context of the Irish experience. The team of presenters discovers the technological challenge and aesthetic considerations in construction, and explores geographical concerns in challenging terrain, both rural and urban.


Tim Joyce is a practicing Civil Engineer with a passionate interest in the way our predecessors got things done with limited resources and technology. He will investigate WHAT did they do and HOW did they do it?

Dr Susan Hegarty is a Physical Geographer with a fascination for the interaction of humankind with the landscape. She will explore WHERE did they do it and WHY?

Orla Murphy is an award-winning architect with an expert knowledge of civic buildings and industrial archaeology who can't stop telling people about it. She will discover WHO did it and WHEN?


Programme One: The Cork to Bandon Railway

Engineer Tim Joyce investigates how you bore an 800 metre tunnel through Goggins Hill and build a viaduct across Laune valley at the dawn of Ireland's railway age. Architect Orla Murphy explores the relationship of gunpowder with tunnel construction and Geographer Susan Hegarty discovers the markets and industries fuelling the railways.

Programme Two: The Banking Halls of Dublin

Architect Orla Murphy investigates the 19th century banking halls of Dame Street and the impact of personalities and politics on the architecture of the booming finance houses. Engineer Tim Joyce discovers how banking led to the innovative development of the docks and Geographer Susan Hegarty explores the role of bridges in planning the city.

Programme Three: The Great Port of Waterford

Geographer Susan Hegarty investigates the mile-long quay wall and fascinating maritime history of Ireland's oldest city that has trade links with every corner of the world. Engineer Tim Joyce discovers the shipbuilding history of Waterford and Architect Orla Murphy explores the streets and building to uncover the history of the city and its people.

Programme Five: The Boyne Viaduct

Engineer Tim Joyce investigates the construction of the Boyne Viaduct at Drogheda and its reputation as one of Ireland's greatest examples of Victorian industrial engineering. Architect Orla Murphy discovers the design of a 21st century bridge over the Boyne and Geographer Susan Hegarty explores 8,000 years of human settlement in the area.

Programme Six: Mayo's Textile Industry

Geographer Susan Hegarty explores the historical role of Mayo's wool production in stimulating a textile industry that has been subject to success, failure and rejuvenation. Architect Orla Murphy discovers how the textile industry impacted on town planning in Westport and Engineer Tim Joyce investigates developments in woollen mill technology.

Building Ireland
  • RT One, Tuesday, 7.00pm