"I am always so surprised at the lengths people go to, to make their dreams come true."

In our Person to Person feature, Cork architect Amy McKeogh tells us about her work, building her dream company, and her festival, Design Pop, which was cancelled this month due to Covid-19
"I am always so surprised at the lengths people go to, to make their dreams come true."

Architect, Amy McKeogh.

TELL us about yourself:

Hi, my name is Amy McKeogh, I am from Cork but living and working in Dublin.

I have a small studio space just off Capel Street where I run my architecture practice called Fíor studios. The name came from the Irish word for True — fíor, which is something that means a lot to me.

Where were you born?

I was born in Cork.

Where do you live?

I live in Rathmines in Dublin, but I tend to split my weeks, spending quite a lot of time in Cork too.

Family?

I have a wonderful family, I adore my sisters Kate and Anna. Kate and I are twins, with Anna being a few years younger. Then there is my dad, Eamon, my mum Anne and my mum’s partner Brendan, and last but not least our dog Cobie.

Best friend?

My best friend would probably be Aisling McGettigan, I have known Aisling for as long as I can remember. Our houses are next door to each other and I have very little childhood memories without her. Aisling lives in Sydney now but we still check in with each other through rambling voice notes nearly every day.

Person you most admire?

I admire a lot of people who show great dedication, tenacity and resilience. I listen to a podcast called How I Built This, it’s about entrepreneurs building their dream companies. I am always so surprised at the lengths people go to, to make their dreams come true. That is something I am constantly in awe of and think it’s such an admirable quality to have, the will to never give up.

Person who most irritates you?

Donald Trump — I watched an interview with him recently and I think that logic is something that evades him. During the conversation, the points he tries to make in roundabout sentences, make no sense. I find it really irritating when someone refuses to take facts and common sense into an argument or conversation, it renders the whole thing a complete waste of time and energy.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

I was lucky enough to go to Cuba last summer with my sister Anna. Havana is one of the most incredible places, the city is so beautiful and caught in this beautiful period of time with all the old cars, bars and atmosphere.

The people are so warm, welcoming and have a cheeky charm which reminded me of home. We went there not knowing what to expect and it surpassed all expectations it is somewhere I would visit over and over again.

Favourite TV programme?

People who know me, know my guilty pleasure is ‘watching my shows’. My favourite show would have to be Normal People, the acting, the story, everything was so utterly relatable and heartbreaking. I have to admit I cried a lot watching the last episode and actually maybe every episode! I am halfway through watching I May Destroy You and it is fantastic, so that might be a close second.

Favourite radio show?

I don’t listen to much radio but I constantly consume podcasts. I love shows like How I Built This, The Guilty Feminist, and This American Life.

Your signature dish if cooking?

Over the lockdown period, I did a lot of cooking and tried to recreate nearly every recipe in the Ottolenghi Simple book, so I think it would have to be something from that. The Ceviche sea trout with pickled onion, tarragon and pistachio would be my new signature dish.

Favourite restaurant?

Uno Mas in Dublin and Bastien in Kinsale.

Last book you read?

The Shadow Of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It is a fiction book based in Barcelona, it is a lovely holiday read.

Best book you read?

One of my all-time favourite books and the last time I remember reading a book from cover to cover in one sitting is The Old Man And the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway. It is so simple, vivid and I was completed captivated by it. I was sitting on a rock next to the sea reading it which made it even more gripping.

Favourite song?

My favourite songs are always my favourite because they bring back a memory or a feeling and one of those songs is After Dark by Mr Kitty. I listened to that song on repeat during a very happy period of my life, so it always brings a smile to my face when I hear it.

Do you have a pet?

Yes, Cobie, she is a nine-year-old Weimaraner and an absolute nutcase. She is such a brilliant dog and my dad’s extra daughter.

Morning person or night owl?

Most definitely a morning person, I absolutely love getting up early and I am generally fast asleep by 11 pm. I really like getting a start on the day before most people are awake and having that time to myself in the morning, I also cease to be a functioning person after 10pm!

Your proudest moment?

I think pulling off Design POP last year was one of my proudest moments. Design POP was an idea I had for a long time and seeing it being realised was pretty incredible.

I had no experience in producing a festival at all, so it was a steep learning curve for me but it all worked out.

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

I think housing is one of the biggest issues and in desperate need of improvement in Cork, Dublin and many places in Ireland.

I also watched a documentary recently about how Paris provides clean drinking water to all its citizens through public fountains. It really made me think about ways in which Ireland could address similar issues of water access and quality.

What makes you happy?

The simple things like a good night’s sleep, a great cup of coffee and spending time with loved ones. The lockdown showed me that all I need to be happy and content is that my loved ones are healthy, fresh air and great food.

What else are you up to at the moment?

I am busy working on a number of projects with Fíor studios. I love being an architect and seeing the concepts and designs coming to life. I tend to work on architecture projects during working hours and tackle the Design POP tasks in the evening or early mornings.

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