Site Visits - A Work in Progress

This project is an ongoing, work-in-progress that relates structures and sites in the built environment of Dublin City and County to incidents and memories from my life. Some of the memories are close and personal, other memories are less so, yet all have had some shaping influence on me. These structures and sites carry meanings that are both personal and may also be meaningful in the contexts of local, municipal and broader histories.

Most of the structures photographed on each site have either been demolished or have been substantially changed over time. The work is about change, impermanence and constructing a narrative in the face of this.
Some of these sites will make reference to and will be linked to other projects on this website.

Chris Reid 28.09.2020

Scroll down to see more, (Click on images to enlarge).

Colaiste Mhuire, Parnell Square, Dublin 1.

I shot this photo in 2015 in an abandoned school, a Christian brother’s school for boys. I never went to this school but it reminded me of two schools I attended as a child in the 1970’s. I took plenty of photos in various room and corridors’ including the one posted. At some point I moved desks from a classroom so there was just one left. Most of the desks had already been removed from the class before my arrival onsite, at a certain point I decided to remove the few remaining desks so there was just one left. The other few desks were excess to my requirements as these photos, I decided, were really about me and my memories.

I wrote the text on the blackboard. It was not my text, I found it on a discarded drawing in a corner of the damp dusty classroom (I have included it in the comments section). I wondered how old the author was. I had no idea why this image was drawn with this text, maybe it was a class exercise? Anyway, the text – it resonated for me. I found some white chalk and wrote the words from this drawing on the black board.

‘’Ag crith le heagla’’, when translated into English means, ‘’To be shaking with fear’’.

I remember grey mornings a teacher randomly selecting individual pupils from rows of boys, all sitting straight, facing forwards, arms folded; the teacher shooting questions at each selected pupil in turn, he was checking to see if each pupil learnt a list of Irish words ‘off by heart’ as part of the previous day’s homework. I waited my turn, sweaty palms, feeling cold and yes, shaking with fear. Though I hid this well.

When the teacher barked the question, I had to answer quickly – if I got the answer right it was such sweet relief. If I got it wrong or could not answer I was told to stand at the side of the room, alone or maybe with others. There I would wait until the end of the class when the teacher would call me to the top of the class to be slapped on the hands with a bamboo cane in front of my peers – maybe two slaps on each hand. It hurt.
Do you think that’s bizarre? Don’t get me started! I could go on and on. It was considered normal at the time and in my world. Little did I know then, that many of my school memories would, over the passing of time, take on a quality of grotesque surrealism.


Anglo-Irish Bank Headquarters, Northwall Quay, Dublin 1.


This is a photo of the skeletal structure that was to be the headquarters of the Anglo-Irish Bank on Northwall Quay, Dublin, when it was built in 2008. It remained in skeletal form for the duration of the recession from 2008 until 2016. Many images featuring this structure were published or broadcast over the duration of the crash. This structure became a public monument to rogue banking institutions, inept governance and austerity.

The image of The Angle-Irish Bank reminds me of an incident that happened to me during early part of the recession During late 2008 and early 2009 I bought a house that had been reduced considerably in price from the unsustainable heights of the Celtic tiger years. I found it difficult  I had secured a tracker mortgage which would have made this purchase very affordable. On the morning I was to complete the purchase I received a phone call from the official in the bank, he told me I was to be moved from a tracker mortgage to a fixed rate mortgage.

I took this photo in August 2015 just as the first cranes appeared and began the work of metamorphizing this structure into the new Irish Central Bank. The work of refurbishing the skeletal monument has been completed and the structure in the photo has been covered over, it's image receding from public memory.

‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ George Santayana.


Saint Columbas Heights, Swords, Co. Dublin.

My father Jim Reid took this photo of me in the back garden of the new home on St. Columba’s Heights in Swords just after Christmas 1972. I got new football boots and gear from my parents, I put them on and went to try them out the back garden. I felt great in my new kit, I felt I had finally arrived and was a real boy now. I was delighted to pose like a footballer for my father.

Soon after the photo was taken in 1972 I saw the resulting photo print. It puzzled me, I was so far away I could hardly see myself and I wasn’t in focus. Even today I am unsure if Jim wanted to photograph me or the back garden or the walls around the back garden. However, his quirky style and 1950’s point and shoot also bore unexpected fruit. Many of his shots from this time documented aspects of the environment I grew up into in the 1970’s and 80’s. This photo has something of the raw, concrete breeze block, grassy, emptiness of a freshly assembled Irish housing estate built on a field in 1972.  The same gardens, today are lush with trees, shrubs and ivy. Now, St. Columba’s heights is considered a mature suburban estate.

My father died during the Christmas of 2015. Many thanks for this memory and for many other memories Jim.