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Otherworldly adventures for aspiring astronauts

  • By Cooney Architects
We are working on existing I-Lofar Telescope project, so we are interested in space architecture. This article gives us an inspiration that maybe we can live out of earth after exploring solar system!
This article was published in Lonely Planet Website August, 2017 by TAMARA SHEWARD (Lonely Planet Writer).

When you’re a kid smitten with the solar system, gravity sucks – all those planets to explore and no way to get there!

While intergalactic travel may be a while off yet, we’ve rounded up some of the best out-of-this-world adventures – right here on Earth – for kids captivated by the cosmos. No jetpack required.



Venture to Venus in Hawai’i, USA

Home to the most volcanoes in the solar system and with an average temperature of 460°C, Venus is a fascinating but forever off-limits planet. Kids can get a taste of all things Venus on Hawai’i’s Big Island, where one of the world’s most active volcanoes – Kilauea – has been continuously erupting since 1983. The surrounding black, basalt landscape is open for exploration; hiking and biking tours are best suited to older kids, while young ‘uns can goggle at the Venusian volcano’s lava lake from the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park’s Jaggar Museum lookout.

Extra astro-allure: While you’re on the island, head up (2743.2m up!) to the Maunakea Visitor Information Centre for free, expert-led stargazing events four nights a week. The centre is en route to the global ‘Astronomy Precinct’, home to 13 of the world’s largest and most powerful telescopes.


Goggle at galaxies in the Atacama Desert, Chile

With cloudless skies and virtually no light pollution, Earth’s driest non-polar desert is the ultimate stargazing showplace. Home to the aptly-named Valley of the Moon, some of the world’s top observatories and the occasional NASA research team, the desert is a must-visit for school-aged space buffs. Child-friendly tours take in the night sky with a whopping 70cm telescope – the largest tourist telescope in South America – providing glimpses of distant galaxies, stars and nebulae in full colour. Very young children can be accommodated on early-evening private tours.

Extra astro-allure: Not all of the Atacama’s lunar-like lures require staying up late. From the desert’s main gateway town of San Pedro de Atacama, kids can take short hikes through the Valley of the Moon, explore the moonscape of the Salar de Atacama (salt flat) and thumb their noses at gravity while bobbing in the Cejar Lagoon, where an abnormally high salt concentration makes sinking impossible.


Splash through the stars in the Maldives

While floating through the cosmos is a distant dream (for now), a visit to Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives comes pretty close. Aptly billed the ‘Sea of Stars’, the waters lapping the equatorial island glow with electric-blue bioluminescence, giving it the appearance of a glittering, star-speckled night sky. After dark, starstruck scallywags can splash around in the shining sea, while younger kids and the water-shy can get their fill of stellar sport on land: bioluminescence – essentially glowing plankton – often washes up on Vaadhoo’s beach, making for lit-up footprints and sparkling sandcastles.

Extra astro-allure: Starry seas aren’t limited to the Maldives. In Australia, beaches around Tasmania have been experiencing recent bouts of bioluminescence; New Jersey’s Manasquan Beach lights up between July and September; and in the UK, kids aged four and up can go on a guided glow-walk with Jersey Walk Adventures.


Catch a glow show in Swedish Lapland

Astronauts viewing aurora borealis from the International Space Station have called the experience ‘simply magnificent’. But you don’t have to be 400km above the Earth – or an adult, for that matter – to catch the show. Aged six or older? Pack your woollies and head to the Swedish village of Abisko, where a chairlift whizzes 1169m up to the Aurora Sky Station, renowned as the world’s best place to view the Northern Lights. Look on in awe, or delve deeper into the phenomenon with a guided station tour.

Extra astro-allure: Even the littlest lights-lover can have an illuminating stay in Abisko. When active, the lights are visible from the village (providing aurora adorers can stay awake long enough to see them!), and the Abisko Naturum visitor centre has a children’s corner plus plenty of absorbing exhibitions for young ones.


Act like an astronaut in Florida, USA

With real-life rocket launches and a space-themed smorgasbord of intergalactic activities to choose from, Florida’s Kennedy Space Centeris guaranteed to get kids starry-eyed. While there’s plenty to keep parents entertained, the center is famous for its immersive, child-friendly experiences: complete NASA-science-based challenges (build a habitat on Mars! Save Earth from an asteroid!) to score a Commander’s Badge at the interactive Cosmic Quest; pilot a space shuttle in an astronaut training simulator; crawl and slide through a space station model; and whoosh off into orbit on the exhilarating, realistic Shuttle Launch Experience, suitable for kids taller than one metre.


Extra astro-allure: Kids aged nine and up wanting to take their astro-ambitions to the next level can sign up for NASA’s legendary Space Camp in Huntsville, aka ‘Rocket City’, Alabama. With gravity-defying simulators, rocket-building workshops and alumni including astronauts and engineers, this camp is no mere marshmallow roast!


Plunge into a parallel universe at the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Offering the chance to experience weightlessness and meet alien lifeforms, Earth’s largest coral reef guarantees a truly out-of-this-world experience. Actual astronauts train for their zero-gravity experiences by scuba-diving; kids aged 12 and up can give it a go with an introductory dive off Green Island. Not ready to take the full plunge? Strap on a space helmet and bounce like Buzz Aldrin on the bottom of the sea with a Seawalker expedition, or hop aboard a glass-bottomed coral viewing boat for a dreamy drift above the Reef’s unearthly expanses.

Extra astro-allure: While you’re revelling on the Reef, be sure to give a wave to the skies; satellites regularly pass overhead to take photographs used to monitor the health of the world’s largest living organism.


Marvel at Mars in Wadi Rum, Jordan

Though the indigenous Bedouin call it the ‘Valley of the Moon’, Wadi Rum’s red dunes and rock formations are more akin to Mars – so much so that the desert was used as the backdrop for 2015 blockbuster The Martian. There are plenty of opportunities for extra-terrestrial hikes and dune-surfing, though little ones may prefer checking out the Marscape from the back of a camel. And while by day Wadi Rum is often scorching, come nightfall temperatures plummet to a somewhat more Mars-like 5°C: snuggle up in a geodesic dome – billed as ‘Martian Tents’ – at the family-friendly SunCity Camp.

Extra astro-allure: Can’t make it to the Middle East? The USA’s Grand Canyon bears remarkable resemblance to the Red Planet’s Valles Marineris, a vast system of ravines that runs along Mars’ equator. Kids can explore the Colorado canyon on short scrambles, on the back of a mule or by joining a Junior Ranger programme.


Journey to Jupiter via Catatumbo River, Venezuela

Jupiter – the biggest, fastest-spinning planet with the most moons – has long intrigued curious young minds. Not least due to the fifth planet’s Great Red Spot, an unremitting storm up to three times the size of Earth that’s been raging for 340 years. A trip to Venezuela’s Catatumbo River gives adventurous kids Earth’s closest thing to a Jovian storm-chasing experience: here, the night skies explode with an average of 28 lightning strikes per minute. Storm-watching tours of Catatumbo – designated by NASA as the lightning capital of the world – welcome all children over the age of two, but kids able to stay up late will catch the best bolts.

Extra astro-allure: Lightning tours leave from the city of Mérida; while you’re in town, visit the Museum of Science and Technology. Aimed squarely at kids, the museum houses a planetarium and various solar system displays. Mérida is also a great base for visiting the nearby observatory and astronomy museum of Centro de Investigaciones de Astronomía.


Soak up a starscape at Nagoya City Science Museum Planetarium, Japan

Housed in a gigantic silver globe suspended 11.4m above the ground, the world’s biggest planetarium projects the exact positions of over 9000 stars in astonishing detail across a 35m-diameter dome. With kid-centric programmes aligned with current astronomical events including eclipses and meteorite showers, what’s not for an aspiring astronomer to love?


Parents with very young children should time their visit with the regular Family Hour or Preschool Projections, where simple shows cover constellations, space travel and more. Shows are in Japanese, but the planetarium’s immersive visuals and spooky sound effects transcend language barriers. Bonus points for being free to anyone 15 years old or younger.
Extra astro-allure: Don’t miss the rest of the museum, which is also strongly geared towards kids. Check out the man-made auroras in the Deep Freezing Lab, peer into an asteroid’s core or head to the roof for daytime stargazing sessions that take in Venus and super-bright stars.

For original article please click this link:



Bailieborough Courthouse, First phase to start on site

  • By Cooney Architects

We are delighted to be the architects involved on the first phase of the Bailieborough Courthouse refurbishment project.

This article, Published in The Anglo-Celt Website 10th September, 2017 by Seamus Enright, details the first and second phase of the project.

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Directors of the Bailieborough Development Association outside the courthouse. Left to Right Robert Smyth, Leslie McKeague, Shirley Hall, Chairman Peadar Reynolds, Jim Maguire, Kevin Smith, Hubert Jennings

A letter of offer for funding received last week by the Bailieborough Development Association (BDA) now means the local community group can push ahead with plans to fulfil phases one and two of ambitious proposals to develop the former town courthouse.

Funding of €100,000 to transform the building into an economic and tourism centre was received late last year under the Rural Economic Development Zones (REDZ) Programme, with a second more substantial allocation of more than €370,000 set to come under PEACE IV.
“It is exciting, very exciting,” admitted BDA Chairman Peadar Reynolds, when speaking to The Anglo-Celt.
“It is an iconic building in the town, and it’s important that now, in the not too distant future hopefully, it can be a place all the community can benefit from.”
Built in 1817 the historic courthouse, complete with Bridewell jail dating back to 1833, has remained empty since former tenants and owners Cavan County Council moved their district roads’ services office from the dilapidated property in 2015.
At the time it was suggested that bringing the courthouse up to spec could cost in the region of €380,000. A feasibility study was carried out in 2016 by BDA to determine the possibility of restoring and renovating the courthouse as a community resource. The local organisation is now on course to sign a lengthy lease for the property with the Council.

All positive

Work on Phase 1, an upgrade to existing office accommodation, is due to start in the coming weeks, with BDA currently evaluating tenders, while Frank Cooney Architects have been appointed to manage design.
Once completed, it will provide office space to rent, as well as ‘hot-desks’ for business people living locally looking to avoid a commute to larger urban centres. The scheme has already proven hugely popular at the BDA’s offices at the Bailieborough Community Training Centre, where workers can avail of services including high-speed broadband, fax and printing, and audio conferencing services.
“It’s important that we are retaining jobs in the town,” explains Lee McDonnell, manager of BDA services. “Office space like that will mean people living locally have the opportunity to stay locally should they choose. The business might not be right here, but the extra cup of coffee, or newspaper, the lunch bought during the course of the day feeds back into the local economy.
“We started off with just one hot-desker, and from him he has encouraged another two to take up places. There are more now who want to do it but we have to manage the space. It’s all positive.”
The civil works on Phase 1 are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

For Phase 2, the latest tranche in funding secured under PEACE IV’s ‘Shared Spaces’ scheme, the group will progress plans to develop the courthouse as a multi-purpose community and performance space, with seating for up to 120 people. In total, some €373,000 will be received from the European fund designed to support peace and reconciliation. Work on Phase 2 is scheduled to commence in January 2018 and should be completed by September 2019.
The third and final phase will seek to restore Bridewell Jail for commercial and tourism purposes.
Also provided will be a visitor centre and museum detailing Bailieborough’s plantation history, with the BDA already engaging with Ian Crozier, CEO of the Ulster Scots Agency. As part of their research going forward BDA have visited other courthouse developments, from Dowra in West Cavan to Wicklow Jail, as well as Oughterard in Galway.
“We want to make sure what we put into the courthouse in Bailieborough is multi-functional and multi-use. We want to put life back into it,” says Lee.
Peadar points to the BDA’s successful track record since the mid-1990s in running local enterprise initiatives, and hopes the courthouse can be the latest rewarding venture. for the town.
“We have always been able to keep our heads above water, repay our bank loans, while also providing an important service to the town and its business people. We want that to continue with the courthouse as an important part of that,” he added.

For original article please click this link:–plus-windfall/



A beautiful autumn day in Dunganny, Co. Meath

  • By Cooney Architects

Meath GAA Centre of Excellence looks great in sunny days!
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Frank Cooney hits the high ropes

  • By Cooney Architects

Frank visited Carlingford Skypark.  If anyone knows Frank well they know that working at a height is not something he’s that fond of!





Bothar Brugha – St. Patricks National School, Drogheda

  • By Cooney Architects

St. Patrick’s National School, Bothar Brugha, Drogheda, Co. Louth coming out of the ground.

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The Hair Academy School is progressing on site!

  • By Cooney Architects

The following photos are from site visit on 11th August, 2017.

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Below are two rendering images of future Hair Academy School, located in Kilmainham, Dublin 8.

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Cooney Architects are the architects involved in the pre-tender design, tender design and construction stage of the I-Lofar Visitor Centre project

  • By Cooney Architects

Cooney Architects are the architects involved in the pre-tender design, tender design and construction stage of the i-Lofar Visitor Centre project. The i-Lofar telescope in Ireland complements the European i-Lofar system, connecting to The Netherlands, Sweden, France, Germany, England and Poland.

€2m radio telescope switched on in Offaly 

This article, Published in RTE Website Thursday, 27 Jul 2017 15:35


A new €2 million radio telescope has been officially turned on at Birr Castle in Co Offaly.

The Irish Low Frequency Array, or I-LOFAR, is part of a €150 million network of radio telescope stations spread across seven European countries.

The system will be used to study objects near and far away from Earth, including the Sun, black holes, magnetic fields, and the emergence of galaxies in the early Universe.

I-LOFAR is made up of 3,000 individual antennae and 55km of wires and cables spread out across an area the size of a football field.

It links into the international LOFAR network, which comprises thousands of antennae that record measurements at the lowest frequencies that can be observed from the Earth.

Together it makes up the largest virtual radio telescope dish in the world, with a diameter of 2,000km.

All of the 51 antenna stations across the network connect back via high-speed fibre optic cable to a central core in Exloo in the Netherlands.

The data is then combined and processed on a supercomputer in Groningen in the north of the country.

€1.4 million of the funding for the project came from Science Foundation Ireland, with the balance coming from a variety of sources including businessmen Joe Hogan, Dermot Desmond and Denis O’Brien, as well as local donors and fundraisers in the Birr area.

Open eir has also provided the high-speed fibre optic link for the project.


The annual membership fee for LOFAR will be funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

The station was opened this morning by Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan.

The LOFAR network was designed and built by ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy.

Thirty-eight of the antenna stations are in the Netherlands, six in Germany, three in Poland and one each in France, England, Sweden and Ireland.

I-LOFAR will be run by a consortium of Irish astrophysicists, computer engineers and data scientists, representing Irish universities and institutes of technologies from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.


The consortium is led by Trinity College Dublin, with partners from University College Dublin, Dublin City University, Athlone Institute of Technology, the National University of Ireland Galway, University College Cork, the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and Armagh Observatory & Planetarium.

The new telescope is located at Birr Castle which has a long history in astronomy.

In 1845, the 3rd Earl of Rosse built the 15-metre long Leviathan – the biggest optical telescope in the world at the time, which remained so for 75 years.


For further information see:



Do cities need more green roofs?

  • By Cooney Architects

We came across this video (by NPR) and thought it showed great vision of what could be possible – the function of green roofs and the relationship between green roofs and cities.



Brook House, Co. Kilkenny on site photos

  • By Cooney Architects

Cooney Architects project, Brook House, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, for Camphill Communities, is nearing completion on site.


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