Building an igloo in Dublin’s Fairview Park: ‘We might put it on AirBnB’

Dublin architect Catherine Mara and her family – with a little help from passersby – turned heads with their igloo

A giant snowwoman in Fairview Park – she was anatomically very clearly a woman – wasn’t the only construction turning heads on Friday.

Just near the entrance to the park, an industrious group of people were putting the finishing touches to an extremely professional looking igloo.

Several identically shaped bricks lay on the ground waiting to be slotted into place while child labourers (well wrapped up ones, in fairness) beavered away constructing the ice dwelling.

Surveying it all was forewoman Catherine Mara, an architect by trade.


“We live in Fairview and we decided we would build a project today, but our garden is too small and we wouldn’t have enough snow so we came to the park,” she explained.

The building team was small: Catherine, who is also a scout leader; her husband Michael Bruton, an engineer; their two children (Finn is 12, Orlaith is 9); and their au pair. But the team expanded through the day as various passersby volunteered to take part in the build.

As an architect she said she brought various skills to the job: “Planning, definitely planning and making sure that we measure twice and cut once. I had to take the saw off my husband earlier because he was cutting a little bit too energetically”.

"We got the basics right from the start  I suppose - a well shaped Lego box packed repeatedly with snow to make blocks by my husband really helped, children with small hands to get the snow/mortar pushed in between them and a super tall au pair to help with the high level work all contributed".

She also had some igloo facts: “Igloos are 40 degrees hotter inside than outside ...” She didn’t have much time to talk as she expected the igloo to be completed in another hour. (The igloo took four hours to build in total).

“We are working to a strict timeline. Time is money,” she added.

Asked whether, with the current rental property madness, she might have a chance of renting out the structure, she said: “We were discussing putting it on AirBnB maybe”.

However, one of the volunteers, André, works with the homeless for the Simon Community, “so maybe we’ll just leave it here to see if anyone wants to use it,” she said.

What did she learn from this unusual building project? " What I learnt is that people of all ages have an inner child that is just begging to play with snow if there is a project going. We attracted quite some attention we weren’t expecting, made us feel we had to finish it."

" The amount of passersby that offered to help with ferrying snow blocks from the ‘plant’, filled buckets of snow and always had some helpful advice on how they thought we should do it kept us entertained while we worked."

Was it worth the hard work? "Definitely.  And it was surprisingly quiet and cosy inside".