More than twenty years after his death his work is still amongst the most visited in the world, yet Peter Rice’s connection to Dundalk is far less celebrated.
For those who don’t know who Peter Rice is, he’s one of the world’s greatest engineers who was behind such iconic buildings as the Sydney Opera House, the Louvre Pyramid and the Pompidou Centre in Paris and Lloyds Bank in London.
He even had a hand in designing Stansted Airport.
Peter hailed from the Castle Road and spent much of his childhood between Gyles Quay and Inniskeen but the sole recognition of his time in this area is a plaque that was erected at 52 Castle Road saying “Birthplace of Peter Rice, Engineer, 1935-1992”.
There’s an award in his honour at Dundalk IT but by and large one of the world’s most celebrated engineers has largely been forgotten about in his hometown.
Even the plaque that does stand at his childhood home was erected privately.
His work is photographed countless times every day and have been used for proposals and advertising campaigns but despite the fact that he was one of the best ever at his chosen profession, his existence has largely gone unnoticed here, and to the best of my knowledge he isn’t even referenced in local schools – or at least he wasn’t while I attended.
That’s not to say that Peter isn’t hugely respected elsewhere.
Just last month ARUP, the engineering firm that Rice was a partner of, put together a short film exploring his life, career and legacy 21 years after his death.
Featuring interviews with Peter’s family and people who worked with him, it gained national prominence when Dundalk-born journalist Laurence Mackin wrote about it in The Irish Times.
At present there is an exhibition celebrating Peter’s work in the Farmleigh Gallery at the Phoenix Park, which describes him as one of the outstanding structural engineers of the late 20th century.
This exhibition has been exhibited in London and Paris and will be on view in the capital until the end of the year.
I’ve written in the past that it’s an awful pity that we don’t have a proper system to honour people both nationally and locally but it would be a fitting honour to Peter if this exhibition could be brought to his hometown in the New Year.
He was one of Dundalk’s greatest exports and all he achieved should not be forgotten.
Credit where credit is due
A fortnight ago I wrote about the Knockbridge Road and the poor state of repair it had fallen into. I’m delighted to report that last Wednesday work was carried out on the very dangerous hidden dip along the main stretch from the Ardee Road into the centre of the village. I don’t know if my article had any impact on this work taking place or not but either way it is to be welcomed and credit must go to those who made it possible. There’s more work to be done along this road, in my opinion, but this first move by the council was certainly a step in the right direction.