Refurbishment and reawakening of Murphy’s Bar Kilkee

At approximately 150 years old, Murphy’s Bar is one of the oldest buildings in Kilkee, Co. Clare. The building itself is a mid-terrace three-bay two storey building which comprises a public house on the ground floor and residential accommodation on the first floor. The building was constructed circa 1860 and still retains many of its distinctive architectural features including natural Killaloe slate, traditional timber sliding sash windows, rendered quoins and ornate rendered window surrounds. The architectural importance of this 19th century building is recognised by it’s status as a protected structure in the Clare County Development Plan 2017-2023.

Murphy’s Bar itself has been closed down and out of use for the past number of decades which has led to it becoming almost derelict inside. The property was on the market for a number of years until 2016 when it was finally snapped up. Since then, work has been going on in the background to try and get the doors of Murphy’s Bar open again and Diarmuid Keane + Associates are delighted to be a part of that background work. We have been taken on board by the new owner as Architectural advisers and Assigned Certifiers.

This is an exciting project for me personally to be involved in as it is located near to my home house and it is a building I always looked at wondering why nobody ever bothered to re-open the bar. I was delighted when I got the call and was asked to come on board. This project is different from the majority of other architectural projects that I have been involved in as it is more about conservation than modern architecture. The bar, when it is re-opened in the next couple of months, will retain many of the old features internally including the old shelves, doors, brick faced walls, ornaments etc. Designing a new house from scratch is a walk in the park compared to trying to bring an old building like this back to life without compromising its original features.


There has been a lot of construction work going on within the building over the past number of months and much of this work will never be seen as it is mainly just work to bring the building in to compliance with current building regulations – fire safety regulations, disability access regulations etc. Diarmuid Keane + Associates have been heavily involved at every stage of these works so far, with our role being to advise on the works required and supervise the construction works. We look forward to continuing our role in this project.

All going well, the doors of Murphy’s Bar wlll be open to the public again in the next couple of months. We look forward to this and on behalf of the owner we welcome everyone to come along when the bar is re-opened and take a step back in to the past in this “new” bar which will look like it never closed.

Thanks for reading,


Room to Improve and the Pre-Purchase Survey

Many people who viewed Room to Improve on RTE 1 last night will be questioning why the clients bought a house that was in such poor condition. Indeed, many people on social media have been questioning whether or not the couple got a surveyor/engineer to carry out a pre-purchase survey before they bought the house. This is a very good question. Surely, any half decent surveyor/engineer would have picked up on the problems within the house?

Well, firstly it must be mentioned that all of the major problems within the house were well hidden and may not have been easy to identify. However, surely the overwhelming smell of dampness must have been a red flag for the surveyor/engineer carrying out the survey. Surely, the presence of the stench would have led them to request opening up works be carried out to assess the condition of the building fabric which were hidden. Also, surely the surveyor/engineer would have checked the attic space and would have been able to identify the rotten timber wall plates. There were so many red flags that any qualified surveyor/engineer would surely have been able to diagnose the defects within the building.

As it happened, the building was riddled with wet rot. In particular, the external stone walls which had been dry lined with timber stud and insulated were badly affected by the wet rot. Wet Rot is a fungus caused by timbers having high moisture content combined with poor ventilation. In the house which was subject of last night’s episode of Room to Improve, the Wet Rot was prevalent throughout the house. However, you would be forgiven for thinking that there was a demented monster living behind the walls with the way Dermot was describing the Wet Rot last night. In general, Wet Rot is actually not that serious, and is far less harmful than Dry Rot. Wet Rot is generally not harmful to one’s health or to the structure of a building, and can be easily eradicated.

Room to improve wet rot

Anyway, back to the point. I would have reservations as to whether the clients had a pre-purchase survey carried out by a qualified surveyor prior to buying the house. To think that you would purchase such an old building for over €350,000 without having a pre-purchase survey carried out is absolute madness. But the reality is that it happens every day. Many people don’t bother having a pre-purchase survey carried out before buying a house in order to save a few hundred euro. But just think of the money that it can save you in the long term. What is a few hundred euro in comparison to €350,000 and the additional €200,000 they spend renovating the house on last night’s show.

Having a pre-purchase survey carried out on a home before purchasing could be the smartest money you ever spend. It will either give you peace of mind that you are making the right decision, or it will stop you making the wrong decision before it is too late. I recently had a client who asked me to carry out a pre-purchase survey on a relatively new (less than ten years old) house in an estate. The client had already put a substantial deposit on the house but decided to have a pre-purchase survey carried out on the advice of their solicitor (solicitors will almost often advise this as part of good professional practice). The house in question looked perfect from the outside and inside it looked even better. However, on inspection I noticed that there were several issues with regard to compliance with building regulations, defects which had been covered up and poor workmanship. To the un-trained eye, these defects would not have been noticeable. But that is why we pay the professionals for services like these. I was able to flag a number of issues which many other people would never notice. As part of the pre-purchase survey report that I prepared following the inspection, I had to advise the client to withdraw from the purchase. The client, whilst obviously disappointed about the condition of the house, was delighted that I had identified these problems and was so they were able to withdraw from the purchase in time and receive a full refund of the deposit.

The moral of the story is, when buying a house or property, ALWAYS ask a qualified building surveyor to carry out a pre-purchase survey on your behalf. Even better, ask Diarmuid Keane + Associates to carry out a pre-purchase survey on your behalf. Diarmuid Keane + Associates carry out pre-purchase surveys through County Clare, Limerick, Galway, Kerry and other surrounding counties. Click here for more information on Diarmuid Keane + Associates Pre-Purchase Survey.

Contemporary or Conservative Architectural Design

When I first sit down with a client for an initial meeting to discuss the project brief, I always try and get a feel for the clients’ requirements, both functional and aesthetical. Functionality, in my opinion, is the most important thing in any house design. After all, what’s the point in having a beautiful house if it doesn’t meet your functional needs, both present and future? All buildings should be designed with one eye on the future. Consideration should be given to expanding families, future access needs for the impaired and indeed future technologies. These are all part of the functional considerations that need to be taken in to account when formulating a design brief for a new house.

The problem I have noticed is that many clients seem to think that contemporary architectural design has to be sacrificed in favour of functional design. Many clients seem to think that it is one or the other and that in order to ensure functionality, they need to go with a conservative architectural design. This however is not the case. I can assure you that both functionality and aesthetics can be combined in order to provide a contemporary architectural design. Any good architectural designer will be able to provide you with a design which meets your functional needs AND is beautiful to look at both inside and out.

I am a firm believer that no two houses should be the same. Each house design should be unique and should enhance the landscape of the surrounding area. Therefore, it is important that every house design is well thought out and should include features which distinguish it from other houses in the area. This is where contemporary architectural design comes in to play. Contemporary design allows the inclusion of features which are unique and are unlikely to be seen in the house down the road. Continue reading “Contemporary or Conservative Architectural Design”