Although many celebrate the big and monumental when it comes to local landmarks or architecture, of far more interest can be the less obvious or the everyday, which we often overlooked.
The village of Blackwater boasts many great features which would have developed out of need and available resources, financial or material wise. The thatched house is the first obvious example in this list; access to clay, sand, stone and straw. Simple but locally specific, the thatched houses of Wexford share their design with the hip thatch roofs of our immediate neighbours in Wales, South West England, Normandy and Brittany. As you travel further West in Ireland, the hip thatch disappears and the full gable is exposed.
Although Kilmore Quay gets most of the touristic attention for thatched houses in Wexford, the east coast of Wexford stretching from Courtown down to Curracloe was abundant with these house. The Macamore area where I grew up, with its heavy marl clays, was littered with these houses. As always, many have disappeared back into the ground from which they came. 
Aside from the structural architecture, we often use an available product or resource to help with its decoration; lime, sea shells etc. Lime produced in the lime kiln was used to protect the walls surface from the weather. Many houses, outhouses and walls are still covered in lime.
If we look at the main street of the village we see a classic example of the use of a local material for decorations, the humble seashell. This form of ornamentation is carried over to other buildings of the area and examples of sea shell decoration are found on the grotto walls, as well as the walls and flower pots outside Declan Flanagan's house. My own father, like many along the coast, would collect shells and use them for making borders on picture frames and the like. A very famous sea shell house can be found in Cullenstown, outside of Carrick on Bannow in South Wexford.
Another house in the village of interest is that of John Breen’s with it Australian/New Zealand style of corrugated iron sheeting. Since the invention of the sheeting in the 1820’s, it has been used in domestic building and it is part of the Australian and New Zealand built environment in particular. What is unusual in this case is that the building is completely covered and it features a covered porch which is not a common Irish design. While if we look in detail at many of our dwelling and farm buildings, we see many from the 1930’s it became popular to shutter and pour walls using concrete, sand and beach gravel. 

Another house, The Fairy House, by the river still has strong attraction for those who visit the village. Over the years, working in schools in various counties, I’ve found that many young peoples lasting impression of Wexford would be the ‘village with the little house’ - an icon if ever there was one.
During our rambles with Declan Flanagan, we ventured into the yard of John O’Reilly in Ballyconnigar Upper for a drink for the young people. Apart form the delight and hospitality shown one of the first things to strike us was the neat and well presented yard full of creative inventions. John’s home would have been thatched in its day and with many houses over the years the thatch was removed and replaced with corrugated metal sheeting. This is evident throughout the county and is another layer in the history of our built environment. 
Another striking feature at John’s house is the concrete yard with its homemade feel and design. This was a common means of decoration in country areas when people first put down concrete; they would put markings in the concrete to act as grips when wet. I’ve seen repeated circles in many places, including my own grandmothers yard growing up, which was made by the individual stamp of a jam jar. John took this one step further and used the base of an old plastic milk crate which had the same anti-slip effect, was quicker to do and you had a something to grip when making the mark. Pure genius. 
In the same yard, we came across many unique forms of decoration. The funniest and most creative has to be the placement of plastic “toilet duck” ducks beside concrete ones. in the same yard are three old frying pans, laid out perfectly as feeders for his cats. In his neighbours yard, that of Statia Murphy, grandmother to one of our young people, we saw her DIY flowerbeds, made from old tyres and whitewashed like the walls behind them. This is something I’ve seen for decades in Wexford and not some new venture into the current rise in ‘up cycling’.
Further on in our rambles we came across glass and plastic buoys which had washed up on the beach and were used for pier decoration. My own 102 year old grandmother, who lived on the coast, had these decorations too on her piers. This was a common thing along the coast and its great to see it alive and well in Blackwater.
On our rambles we came across some old stone built piers. Although much more common in South Wexford, these large, mostly circular forms are incredible structures going into a small humble field. Although the ones we came across in Ballyconnigar Upper were plastered and almost dis-used looking, they had a lovely touch. Their caps were decorated with local beach stone which was a lovely touch to see. Alongside this we also came across a resourceful form of pier production, where old metal barrels were filled with concrete and turned into round piers. Labour saving and they too contain their own unique aesthetic. 
Lastly, there are many other gems in the area that we did not see or are not included and I hope that people recognise and appreciate these small little things which are such important elements that make up the character of a place.
Blackwater has so many varied strong elements and styles of buildings and this to me adds, rather than takes away from its character. The elements of metal, slate and straw as roofing material is great to see, following the curves and angles of the buildings, all tipping their hats to each other and held together by the people around them. Long may they all exist together.

Vernacular Design

Various sites, Blackwater, Co. Wexford