On the Irish Clachan settlement Pattern and the Authority of Order and Form

Dorrian, Mark Woodburne (1995). On the Irish Clachan settlement Pattern and the Authority of Order and Form. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d9c9


The Irish clachan is a settlement form, a grouping of houses and related out-buildings, that has been associated with the 'Rundale' agricultural system. Study of it has proceeded largely within the discipline of Geography, and has been coordinated primarily by questions such as those of the antiquity and distribution of the type. The morphology of the built form has been commented on, but in a limited and highly circumscribed way; to date it has received little sustained attention. This is the focus of the present study - the spatial formation of the clusters, their 'architectural' quality, and specifically how that was and is interpreted and understood. Following an introductory critical review of recent academic treatment of the subject, a brief history is sketched of ways in which the clusters have been described. Close attention is paid to the categories which relate to their spatial qualities, categories which, it is recognized, passed over into the documents of the human sciences and which problematize the latters' project of understanding. It is thus argued, with reference to Heidegger's thinking, that scholarship on the clusters has conceptually mis-sited them. The hermeneutic position of the investigator has not been thematized. By situating the commentaries on native settlement within the development of the expansive, and far from uncommitted, discourse on Ireland the operation of the notion of disorder is examined. Here it is seen to be structurally related to a series of privileged and abject categories strategically organized around a master duality of civility and savagery. The suggestion that geometrically structured space, as the space of authority, was importantly linked with the privileged categories is investigated and the relationship between the clusters and the categories of the 'monstrous' and the 'grotesque' considered.

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