Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.
A writer, blogger, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more
South Africa

Stellenbosch

“I thought no university in the world would be as beautiful as Oxford or Cambridge,” Aidan Hartley wrote, “until I saw it.” read more

Architecture

Soho Iridescent

Beak Street in London is now teeming with turquoise iridescence since the completion of a new office building by the architectural firm of Stiff & Trevillion. read more

South Africa

Sunday in Stellenbosch

The late Richard West reports a Sunday morning in “this old and incomparably beautiful town in a valley of vineyards”. read more

London

Holborn Town Hall

The Metropolitan Borough of Holborn was the smallest borough of London both in geography and population so it’s not surprising that its town hall was a humble affair. read more

New York

Inside Governors Island

A peek inside some of the abandoned buildings on this intriguing little island in New York Harbour. read more

Cinema

Hollandic Fever

There is an unfortunate shortage of films set in seventeenth-century Holland (even though we’ve had three so far this century). read more

Books

Scribbled Notes

Does anyone talk on the phone anymore? Reading a book in which a casual conversation takes place and the main character hangs up the phone, the fact that the author reveals this seems surprising. read more

Architecture

Classical New England

Russell Kirk once described the interior of the Old State House in Hartford, Connecticut, as “perhaps the most finely proportioned rooms in all America”. read more

Design

Passport Innovation

It is a truth universally acknowledged that changes to passport designs are almost never improvements. Take the new Lebanese passport. read more

Great Britain

Rosary on the Coast

It started in Poland and spread to Ireland. Last Sunday, Great Britain got in on the action, and by all accounts the Rosary on the Coast has been a resounding success. read more

Architecture

Eton College Chapel

The interior of Eton’s chapel has changed markedly over the past hundred or so years, mostly so thanks to the rediscovery of the priceless medieval wall paintings which had been hidden for centuries. read more

History & Government

Earls, Shires, Hides, and Hundreds

HM the Q has recently engaged in the old practice of ‘pricking the lites’ to appoint three High Sheriffs. To know what that is it’s worth looking at the old offices that emerged from Anglo-Saxon England. read more

Diary

The Week

Drinks at Mariga Guinness’s old place in Spitalfields, supper in Marylebone, a book launch in Piccadilly, and communing with the dead (or praying for their eternal repose, at least). read more

New York

City Hall

In a town known for its buildings, New York’s City Hall looms large in the imagination yet its architecture is under-appreciated. read more

Heraldry

The Port of London

London’s port is ancient, but the beautiful coat of arms granted to it are just over a century old. read more

South Africa

Pretoria Philadelphia

South Africa’s parliament meets in Cape Town and its highest courts in Bloemfontein but as the home of the executive it is Pretoria that has precedence as the nation’s capital. read more

History

Supermac and the Sarduana

As an ex-Guards officer and Old Etonian, Harold Macmillan felt comfortable amongst black African patricians in a way he couldn’t amongst members of the ruling white African elite from humble backgrounds. read more

Kuns

Lionel Smit

Een van die mees geskoolde portretskilders vandag is die Pretoriaanse kunstenaar Lionel Smit. lees meer

MMXVII

St Paul’s Survives

Crossing the Thames as I walked home from the pub last night, I looked down the river and saw the sturdy dome of St Paul’s Cathedral standing out, illuminated in the winter night. read more

Zimbabwe

“Events did not choose the terrorists; powerful white people did.”

In the aftermath of Mugabe’s clumsy downfall, Helen Andrews explores the Rhodesian crisis and attempts to answer the question: could it really have gone any other way? read more

Sculpture

Physical Energy

I came across it by surprise one day, walking through the park. It was almost eerie — all the more so for being unexpected. read more

The Arab World

Nahum Effendi and Cairo’s Lost World

Stumbling across this newspaper clipping about Gen. Naguib attending a Yom Kippur service was a sad reminder of a lost world. read more

Persecuted Christians

‘The right thing to do is to act virtuously, rather than just talk about doing so’

Despite the country’s small size, “fate and God have compelled Hungary to take the initiative” on persecuted Christians, prime minister Viktor Orban argues. read more

Art

Gallen-Kallela at the National Gallery

The National Gallery marks the centenary of Finnish independence with a showing of Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s landscapes. read more

London Life

Pimlico Forever – Belgravia Never!

It started with hints and rumours, ill-whispered talk on street corners and tiny little changes, but now it’s all gone too far. Belgravia, it seems, has designs on annexing Pimlico. read more

Architecture

The ‘Other Modern’ in Portugal

Salazarism never upheld anachronism or the practice of an archaeological type of architecture, writes Joana Brites. It did not reject modernity entirely. read more

Portugal

Lisbon

One of the finest cities I have had the privilege of visiting, only lightly touched by the grim hand of modernism. read more

Elsewhere

Around

A look at a few interesting pieces collected from around the web in the past few months. read more

New York

Knickerbocker Spires

New York’s church spires once dominated the horizon like in the towns and cities of the old world. read more

Reading

Ten Books

I have been challenged by a friend to post the cover of ten books I love — no explanation, no review, just the cover. read more

Television

Mugabe and Friends

The recent election (such as it was) in Zimbabwe brought to mind the Nando’s television advert of Robert Mugabe and his old mates. read more

Letter to the Editor

Observations

All those interested in the history of the workers’ struggle would have enjoyed a letter to the editor printed in last week’s Observer. read more

New York

The Governor’s Room

This is still one of my favourite rooms in all New York – there’s something about that particular shade of green. read more

Architecture

A Chapel in Bavaria

The Friedhofskapelle in Herrsching on the Ammersee in Upper Bavaria is a wonderful model of a small church or chapel. read more

Vexillology

Trad Flag

I love a good trad flag, and Oriel College Boat Club has the perfect example of one. read more

Reading

Recent Reads

A takedown of pop Enlightenment, laïcité as fear of Islam, the Irish language, and how we made God speak English. read more

Art

Albert Power & Arthur Griffith

These days the Irish sculptor Albert Power is very rarely spoken of, and I can’t claim to know much about this bronze bust he did of Arthur Griffith. read more

Parliament

The Steps of the Throne

From Irish peers to retired bishops, a curious assembly of individuals have the right to sit on the steps of the throne in the House of Lords. read more

Web Design

Warwick Street Church

Over in Soho there is a curious little church with a fascinating history, which I’ve just had the privilege of designing a new website for. read more

Ireland

The McGillycuddy of the Reeks

How lovely to see a member of the Gaelic nobility having a letter in the newspaper. read more

Cinema

“Get me ze Führer!”

The British are, of course, obsessed with the Nazis. This is partly thanks to the many really quite good (and eternally rewatchable) war films produced during the 1950s and 1960s. read more

Militaria

The French Way of War

I’ve been reading Lartéguy recently so was intrigued to hear of another French writer formed by his military experience, Pierre Schoendoerffer. read more

Coins

From Realm to Republic

South Africa’s 1961 constitutional transition coincided with a change of currency. read more

Philosophy

Champagne and the World

I’ve often said that champagne and the Catholic faith are the only two universally applicable things in the universe – appropriate for births, deaths, good times and bad, early, late, or a mundane afternoon. read more

History

South Africa in the Old Days

This historical film about the early days of the Cape was probably produced for the van Riebeeck tercentenary festival of 1952. click to view

History

The Earl Attlee

“Don’t you dare call him ‘silly old Attlee’,” Churchill said. “Mr Attlee is a great patriot.” read more

London

Challoner’s House

After a perfect breakfast on Saturday morning I decided the three-and-a-half miles home from St Pancras were best managed on foot and happened to stumble upon No. 44, Old Gloucester Street. read more

History

South African VCs in the Russian Civil War

Several South African officers — including two Victoria Crosses — volunteered for service in the Russian Civil War and made a valuable contribution. read more

Property

An Hollandic Hovel

I can easily imagine getting a lot of writing done while listening to LPs of baroque music through a haze of cigarette smoke in a garret like this. read more

Architecture

Holy Trinity Kingsway

Not much information is available about this church. The ambitious tower was never built, nor was there much money to complete the interior. read more

Monarchy

Stockholm in the Swinging 60s

The Solemn Opening of the Riksdag is seen here in a recording from 1960 during the reign of Gustaf Adolf. read more

Culture

1950s Ireland, the Church, and the Arts

In the latest Irish Arts Review, artist and Aosdána member Alice Hanratty condemns today’s easy notions of the repressive Church-dominated Ireland of the 1950s. read more

South Africa

Sir Christoffel Brand

Look at this cragly visage! It belongs to the first Speaker of the House of Assembly in the Cape Parliament. read more

History

The L.A. Times on Papa Pacelli

It’s interesting to read the Los Angeles Times’s coverage of Pius XII’s election in the difficult year of 1939. read more

Ireland / Cusacks

Christmas on College Green

There are some good (if brief) shots of the Irish House of Lords chamber in this Christmas ad for the Bank of Ireland. read more

Design

Hamburger Abendblatt

The German advertising agency Oliver Voss created this series of ads for Hamburg’s daily evening newspaper. read more

History

Mendicant Architecture in Mediaeval Oxford

An interesting video from two American academics with some three-dimensional reconstructions of the Dominican and Franciscan houses in the city. read more

Tradition

Judging Dress

With the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court in the news, the Sybarite weighs in on the important matter of judicial dress. read more

Design

Calligraphic Correspondence

What a pleasure it must be to receive a letter from the designer Frank Ortmann. read more

History

The Dutch in Rhodesia

…and why they stayed. Marnix de Bruyne has shed new light on the post-war wave of Dutch immigration to Rhodesia with his new book. read more

Book Design

A Handsome Hamsun

Book design is sadly neglected in the English-speaking world. In paperbacks, the French reign supreme, while the Teutons and Scandos design the most elegant hardcover books. read more

London

Church of St James, Spanish Place

Always interesting to see a building you know well from a perspective you’ve never seen before, as in this photo of St James, Spanish Place, taken from Manchester Mews. read more

Heraldry

Arms of the Oudtshoorn Oratory

An explanation of the arms of the Afrikaans-speaking Oratory of St Philip Neri in Oudtshoorn, South Africa. read more

Russia

Russia’s Demographic Turnaround

Most large developed countries have been facing demographic crises, but the FT reports Russia appears to be turning a corner. read more

Italy

Courtyard of the Palazzo Bonagia

A photograph looking towards the rococo staircase with its steps, columns, and balustrades of red marble from Castellammare del Golfo. read more

New York

The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow

If there is any season which is plus New-Yorkaise que les autres then it must be autumn, and around the time of Hallowe’en in particular. read more

Auctions

Johannes Kip’s View of London

The Dutch engraver & printer Johannes Kip followed William of Orange to London after the English Revolution of 1688, and produced this splendid view of London and Westminster. read more

Ireland

‘Decisions, decisions…’

The Dublin Civic Trust has a blogpost on the Bank of Ireland’s 1802 competition to redesign the former Houses of Parliament on College Green. read more

History

Party in the Overberg

Alongside a bazaar, a braai, and dancing, a speech by Sir De Villiers Graaff is the selling point of this poster advertising a United Party get-together in the beautiful Overberg region of the Cape. read more

Church

Letter to the Editor

A senior academic suggesting that the demise of Heythrop was an episode in a long struggle between “outward-facing, inquisitive, challenging” theology on one side and “inward-looking, submissive, unquestioning” theology on the other is telling. read more

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