Showing the Way

Loiugh Hyne signage

I’ve always been impressed with Ireland’s boldness when it comes to modern design – whether it be buildings, townscape or – today’s subject – signage. That’s probably because my working life was spent designing architecture mainly in England where the brief, too often, seemed to be to produce something that would look as if it had been around for a hundred years… I could never bring myself to turn out pastiche and, consequently, suffered many frustrations with clients and planning committees.

We have just been to see one of the new signs marking ‘Signature Points’ on the Wild Atlantic Way: it’s at Lough Hyne, a marine nature reserve just outside Skibbereen which we have mentioned many times before in our posts. The Lough was a freshwater lake until rising sea levels flooded it with salt water – probably during the time when the Bronze Age inhabitants were carving their rock art in the area. The lake is now fed by tidal currents that rush in from the Atlantic through Barloge Creek. It’s one of the places that we take our visitors to: it has a quiet, rugged beauty – and a fair share of holy wells in its vicinity.

Lough Hyne panorama

Island on Lough Hyne

The new sign is everything I would want from a 21st century waymarker: it’s simple but distinctive – completely of its time; well made from a long-lasting modern material – corten steel (mentioned in a previous post). It could still be around for archaeologists of the future to discover a few thousand years from now as the surface will use the natural rusting process to create a permanently stable and very attractive patina. It’s a contemporary monument and – like the landscape around it – rugged.

The design incorporates the Wild Atlantic Way logo – very simply but subtly using a W, an A and a W. I commend Fáilte Ireland and their consultants in this project, Red&Grey Design. It’s worth looking at their website for a detailed description of the identity proposals and the way it all works.

I believe the new signs have received some bad press, with complaints that they are ugly and detract from the natural environments that they advertise. Generally, however they are being placed where there are already car parks, cars, railings, seats, litter bins etc: human activity. I don’t see any problem in adding distinctive and practical pieces of sculpture in such settings – a grand Irish initiative!

Hyne sign

 

12 thoughts

  1. Well, these signs are as much sculpture as signs. Presumably, everybody arriving at this location already knows that is it is Lough Hyne that they are looking at. So why bother with all this incredibly expensive corten steel signing ? Has anybody told you what the cost of this installation is ? Actually I like it, but generally I am distressed at the proliferation of signs everywhere. There are simply too many. And far too many of them are bossily instructional – they pollute the landscape and depress the spirit, a sign of the times.

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    • Thank you Julian: every opinion is valuable. Yes, the signs are expensive but at least they are built to last. The cost comes from Fáilte Ireland’s budget so it won’t make any difference to your tax bill or mine! I gather that the whole Wild Atlantic Way project is successful in bringing more ‘paying customers’ (tourists) into Ireland so perhaps it all balances out in the end…

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  2. I agree that the WAW logo is very well designed. I particularly like the way in which the strokes are subtly curved, suggesting both waves and a winding route. I have noticed that the version of the logo being used on some road signs is slightly different – the top lines are straight while the lower lines retain their curves. I actually like this as I think it combines the wave and route symbolism more effectively. Unfortunately some ‘copies’ of the original logo miss the subtlety entirely and only use straight lines throughout (and it is difficult to draw accurately – I know, I have tried!). The metal site markers are good too – they have a touch of mythic grandeur combined with modern materials that blend well with the landscape while retaining a bold prominence.

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  3. Robert,
    Unsurprisingly I am in complete agreement with you regarding the new WAW signage.

    Equally I lament the awful standards in design exhibited on other signage commissioned by state and private authorities. Most lack any suggestion if imagination and often display an inability to convey a message clearly in the English language. I am reminded of a sign attached to a “bottle bank” which declared that person’s DEPOSITING material at the facility were liable to prosecution and imposition of a fine.

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