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‘Tigh Donal Rua’ or ‘Red Donal’s House’ is an installation by Irish artist Caoimhghin Ó Fraithile that was commissioned by Ciarán Walsh in 2006. It involved the reconstruction of a 19th century stone cottage in a remote valley west of Dingle town, in the southwest of Ireland. Since 2006 the roof of the installation had deteriorated and it was replaced in October 2013.

The house is thought to have been occupied by Donal Rua and his family and is very typical of the thatched ‘long house’ lived in by tenant farmers and shepherds in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. It is located on the side of a hill at the back of a glacial valley that forms part of the Brandon mountain range in West Kerry, an area steeped in archaeology and contemporary Gaelic culture.

By 2006 the cottage had been abandoned for over a century. The roof was long gone but the dry-stone walls were reasonably well preserved. Working with a group of local farmers, stonemasons and craftsmen the walls were restored, the interior excavated and the hearth stone exposed, along with clay pipes and other bits of crockery that were left behind when the house was abandoned.

‘Tigh Donal Rua’ was installed over a couple of months and was part of a series on installations that Ó Fraithile built in West Kerry, each one dealing with themes of locality and commemoration incorporated into traditional dwellings as reliquaries of tradition and folk memory.

He went on to develop similarly themed installations in the States and Japan.


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