The Dignity of Everyday Life: Celebrating Michael Scott’s Busáras
Eoin Ó Broin & Mal McCann
In this exciting collaboration, writer Eoin Ó Broin and photographer Mal McCann explore the vision behind Dublin’s Áras Mhic Dhiarmada and Busáras, and celebrate the energy, creativity, and neglect of this incredible example of Irish modernist architecture and design.
Michael Scott’s Áras Mhic Dhiarmada and Busáras is one of the most important modernist buildings in Ireland. Built between 1947 and 1953, it was intended to be a bus station like no other, providing ordinary working people with a range of amenities including a roof-top restaurant, incredible panoramic views of Dublin, a crèche, a 24-hour newsreel cinema, and a host of shops and services. It was to be a microcosm of the city, providing dignity, comfort, and convenience to bus users.
From its inception the project was gripped in controversy, over the location, design, function, and cost. Battles were waged on the floor of the Dáil, in Dublin Corporation Committee meetings and the letters of various newspapers. Construction ground to a halt for three years as Government and opposition argued over the merits and uses of the building. In the end it became home to the Department of Social Protection and Bus Éireann’s provincial bus services. Despite receiving widespread acclaim for its architectural and design innovations, today it is a much maligned and misunderstood building.
In this exciting collaboration, writer Eoin Ó Broin and photographer Mal McCann explore the vision behind Áras Mhic Dhiarmada and Busáras, and celebrate the energy, creativity, and neglect of this incredible example of Irish modernist architecture and design.
About the Authors
Eoin Ó Broin is TD for Dublin Mid-West and Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Housing. He is the author of five books, including Home: Why Public Housing is the Answer (Merrion Press, 2019) and Defects: Living with the Legacy of the Celtic Tiger (Merrion Press, 2021).
Mal McCann is from Belfast and he has been working as a photographer since 1994. He joined The Irish News in 2007 and has won a number awards, including NI Press Photographer of the Year in 2018.
Praise for The Dignity of Everyday Life
‘Eoin, for his well researched and most interesting text, and Mal, for his wonderful photographs, are to be congratulated for the excellently produced The Dignity of Everyday Life, which is a very fitting tribute to the project team who delivered Busáras, which included my father, Michael Scott.’
‘The Busarás building, with its shape, light, and frescoes, is a monument to the modernist energies that opened up the enclosed mental spaces of post World War II Ireland. As a nodal transport point, but also as the Department of Social Protection, it links the city to the most far flung corners of the island. As Eoin O’Broin and Mal McCann show in this wonderful book, the building, in its mixture of angle and curve, structure and rhythm, still holds a promise of better things to come, in keeping with the vision of its architects and builders who refused to settle for less in the Ireland of their own time.’
Luke Gibbons (Author, Joyce’s Ghosts: Ireland, Modernism, and Memory)
‘It is very well written and has been rightly and critically acclaimed for the descriptiveness of Eoin’s prose and for its historic detail. He tells the story of an egalitarian effort, led by pioneering architect Michael Scott, to create a building, uniquely Irish, utilitarian yet uplifting…He draws on the creativity and photographic skills of Mal McCann to take us through Busáras as it is today. I have long admired Mal’s photos. He has an eye for the common place, the quirky angle, and the beauty of everyday things. His use of light is ingenious.’
Gerry Adams, The Irish Echo