the architect who celebrated his 91 years with a day off
Some people choose to celebrate their birthday by having a party or going out. For Cathal O’Neill, the best way to mark his 91st year was to take a day off.
His ad, placed in the personal section on the last page of Tuesday’s print edition of The Irish Times, reads: “To celebrate his 91st birthday, architect Cathal O’Neill takes a day off.” The ad garnered a lot of attention from online social media.
However, the architect, who graduated from University College Dublin in 1955, said he had no plans to stop permanently.
Mr. O’Neill, who studied and worked for Mies van der Rohe in Chicago, Illinois, established his Dublin firm, Cathal O’Neill and Associates, in 1961.
He began teaching architecture at UCD shortly thereafter, before being appointed principal of the school in 1972, a position he held until his retirement in 1996.
But despite his retirement from teaching, he continued to work as an architect, alongside his son Garrett, in the Dublin firm.
“I am still working on architecture. I was making site visits yesterday. I like to make houses. They are very simple, ”he said.
“They are very interesting. It’s good to try to build a house for someone and provide them with all the amenities. I’m also working on a few other projects at the moment.
The partnership with his son is not the first family team either.
Mr O’Neill’s late wife Deirdre, who died in 2015 at the age of 82, was an interior designer and gardener. They worked together for many years, which Mr. O’Neill called “lovely”.
“She had a lot of taste. She did a great job, ”he added.
And now that he’s turned 91, does he feel like rushing into daytime work? Absolutely not, Mr. O’Neill said.
“I wouldn’t want to stop working. I think if I stopped working I would die. Architects very often work for a very long time, ”he added.
“Many famous architects have done well in their hundreds. It is quite usual. I would like to do the same. I don’t see myself stopping at all.
Mr O’Neill spent his birthday relaxing with his family and reading Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli for his monthly book club.
He also attends a weekly watercolor class to keep him busy outside of work.
The father of five, who also has 10 grandchildren, said the whole family will celebrate this weekend in a park in Dublin.
“I am very happy to be this age. I enjoy life. I have always enjoyed life. I had a very charming life, ”he said.
“I’m having a great day. People call me, my family comes to me and I am very happy. I am very surprised to have reached this age.