Jeffry's House

Artist Name(s) Thomas O'Brien and Emily Mannion
Artwork title Jeffry's House
Context/Background ArtScape@Donegal is a flagship cultural tourism project initiated by Donegal Co. Council Public Art Programme, which seeks to commission new outdoor public artworks, sculpture and landscape interventions for Ards Forest, in collaboration with Coillte - the Irish Forestry Board. The ArtScape Donegal @ Ards Forest Park competition was the first architectural commission for a forest in Ireland. The aim of the commission was to realise the design and construction of an innovative structure at Ards Forest Park, while demonstrating the exciting potential of creating a unique intervention in the natural landscape. The brief (set out by the Irish Architecture Foundation) called for proposals that demonstrate "how architects can create structures which enhance their natural surroundings". The competition was open to architects/landscape architects and architecture/landscape architecture graduates of accredited degree courses living or working in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. ArtScape Donegal @ Ards Forest Park intended to create a cultural focal point in an existing area of natural beauty to inspire and excite the public.

Jeffry’s House (2014) is a folly-style structure which was created by architect Thomas O Brien and artist Emily Mannion. The piece is named after Jeffry’s Lough - a nearby lake which appears on older maps but has now disappeared. Standing at the edge of the forest, Jeffry’s House offers shelter and overlooks the sea, sand dunes and mountains beyond. Sensitive to the natural beauty of the landscape around it, the structure’s roof is composed from traditional flax thatching, embedding it in the surrounding environment while softening the slender larch wood structure beneath. A platform raised on wooden piles was incorporated into the design to allow natural vegetation, rough grass and scrub to grow back underneath it. An opening set high in the rear elevation is protected by a folded steel hood and is intended to resemble a church window, only letting in light at certain times of the day. The narrow elevation minimises the structure's presence when viewed from across the bay, while the long facade is designed to invite people in a local playground to come and explore it.

The original competition brief can be found here:

Documentation footage can be viewed here:


Jeffry‘s House displays a great consideration to craft and an intriguing architectural narrative. Thomas O’Brien and Emily Mannion have given us so much more than just an object on a site – they’ve created the potential for a magical conversation between the folly, the landscape and the public.

Nathalie Weadick, Director Irish Architecture Foundation


Thomas O'Brien is a young architect living and working in Ireland. He studied architecture at University College Dubin, and graduated with honours in 2005. He obtained a Professional Diploma (Architecture) through the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and University College Dublin in May 2011. He is a registered architect and a member of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland.

Since graduation Thomas has been fortunate to gain experience with diverse practices, such as de Paor Architects, A2 Architects, and Dorman Architects, and worked on a range of projects from educational buildings, interior fit outs, domestic extensions and new builds. Upon achieving his professional qualifications in May 2011 he has begun practicing independently as totobArk. Thomas is also currently a studio tutor at University College Dublin.

Further biographical details can be found on the artists website:

Emily Mannion is an artist born in Donegal in 1985. She graduated with a BA(hons) degree in Fine Art from the University of Huddersfield in 2007. She completed a Digital Residency in Firestation Artist Studios in 2010 and subsequently undertook a residency in Templebar Gallery and Studios with the interdisciplinary group Terraform. Recent shows include 'We had an idea about the future', 2012, NCH, Earlsfort Terrace Dublin; 'Constellations', 2011, curated by Emma Lucy O’Brien, Visual Centre for Contemporary Art, Carlow; 'Into a limbo..', 200 Clonliffe road, 2011, Dublin (2011); 'Making do With Paper Planes', Moxie Dublin 2011; 'Something tells me its all happening at the zoo', 2010, in the Kevin Kavanagh gallery, curated by Davey Moore. She currently lives in Dublin.

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Donegal County Council Cultural Services Public Art Programme
Commissioning process Two-stage competition. Forty-three submissions were received, and a short-listed panel was selected. ‘Jeffry’s House’ was announced as winner in April 2014.
Project commission dates April 11, 2014 - July 26, 2014
Partners Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF); Coillte (Irish Forestry Board); Earagail Arts Festival.
Artform Architecture,Visual Arts
Funded By Donegal County Council
Project commission start date 11/04/2014
Project commission end date 26/07/2014
Location Ards Forest Park - The park is situated 5km north of Creeslough on the N56.
County Donegal
Street Address Creeslough
Content contributor(s) Web Editor
Public engagement

Extensive mapped walks and trails allow visitors to spend hours exploring the park, which is owned and managed by Coillte. To access Jeffry's House, visitors should follow the Sand Dune Trail from the main car park.

Location details and map:

Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Ivor Kilpatrick - Thatcher

The competition was managed by the Irish Architecture Foundation.

The assessors were:

Shaun Hannigan, Director, Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal;

Nathalie Weadick, Director Irish Architecture Foundation;

Colm Moore, Clancy Moore Architects;

Michael Corr, Pie Architecture and Creative Director PLACE Built Environment Centre, Belfast

Alex Milton, Head of Design, National College of Art and Design, Dublin.






no news in this list.

more opportunities

Focus On



Nazareth Housing Association provides independent living houses for individuals and couples who are 65 and over and on the Sligo County Council housing list.  Nazareth Village is comprised of 48 houses in a garden setting.  The Village was financed as a public-private partnership between Nazareth Housing Association and Sligo County Council with funding from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.  

more about this article