Fitzsimons in 2007
26 April 1930|
Gravelstown, Carlanstown, County Meath
4 November 2014 (aged 84)|
|Occupation||Irish architect, politician and writer|
Jack Fitzsimons (26 April 1930 – 4 November 2014) was an Irish chartered architect and surveyor based in Kells, County Meath. He was a Fianna Fáil member of Seanad Éireann, who was elected to the Seanad in 1983 by the Industrial and Commercial Panel, and re-elected in 1987.
His contributions to debates such as the amendments to the National Monuments Bill highlighted a well informed approach to heritage that was both practical and principled. In that debate, he also referred to preservation of thatched cottages which was later to be the subject a detailed book. He lost his seat at the 1989 election.
He resigned from Fianna Fáil in 1989, within hours of that election and his letter to the then Fianna Fáil general secretary, Frank Wall highlighted his criticism of Charles Haughey on the grounds that there was “no ideology, no consistency, no positive approach’’ within Fianna Fáil, and that debate was stifled, as a key driver in his decision.
He subsequently ran as an independent candidate for the 1994 European Parliament elections for the Leinster constituency, getting 6,752 votes (2.6%) based on a manifesto which included a strong anti-hunting and anti-hare coursing policy. He continued as activist against aspects of planning including the approach of Meath County Council to regulation of septic tanks.
He is well known for publishing Bungalow Bliss under the Kells Arts Studio label. There was a strong social context to this publication as at the time, architects’ fees were high and the book was intended to make affordable designs available at a low cost. Bungalow Bliss, which was first published in 1971 and reprinted 10 times, explained the detail of all aspects of building a bungalow, from planning laws to how to put in a septic tank. As a book, its influence has been debated as significant and as a phrase it has entered common parlance in mainsteam media and was referenced in books such as The Pope's Children. He responded directly to the various controversies that grew up around Bungalow Bliss in his book called Bungalow Bashing. In an essay titled “The House that Jack Built” in Ireland Unbound (a collection of 20 essays edited by Michel Peillon and Mary P. Corcoran, on the rapid transformation of Ireland as it entered the 21st century), Stephen Quilley addresses a disagreement between Jack Fitzsimons and journalist Frank McDonald who coined the phrase "Bungalow Blitz" as part of a series of articles attacking the "spreading fungus" of the proliferation of ribbon development bungalows in Ireland. In his contribution Quilley highlights the country's planning laws rather than the architectural qualities of the bungalows as being the main problem. The essay refers to one of the core drivers of Bungalow Bliss which was that "bright modern bungalows were synonymous with an escape from rural poverty and domestic drudgery" (p. 94).
He also published a further range of books on aspects of Meath, heritage, and politics as well as some fiction. These publications included a detailed and personal study of the thatched cottages of Meath illuminated by his own photographs of these dwellings and a history of his native parish of Kilbeg in County Meath, where he attended school in the village of Carlanstown.
- "Meath Chronicle - 'Bungalow Bliss' architect's anger as council imposes 'no warning' code". meathchronicle.ie. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Mr. Jack Fitzsimons". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
- "Seanad Éireann - 17/Dec/1986 Private Members' Business. - National Monuments (Amendment) Bill, 1986: Committee Stage (Resumed).". oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Former senator and architect Jack Fitzsimons dies - RTÉ News". rte.ie. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Outspoken politician, architect and champion of 'Bungalow Bliss'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- "Jack Fitzsimons -Independent -Euro 1994 Leinster | Irish Election Literature". irishelectionliterature.wordpress.com. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "The books that define Ireland". ucd.ie. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Blot on the landscape or bungalow bliss? - Independent.ie". independent.ie. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Holdings: Bungalow bashing". catalogue.nli.ie. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Author Search Results". catalogue.nli.ie. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Holdings: Thatched houses in County Meath". catalogue.nli.ie. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Observations by Jack Fitzsimons". askaboutireland.ie. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Parish Kilbeg by Jack Fitzsimons - AbeBooks". abebooks.co.uk. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Irish Ancestors/ Placenames and records". irishtimes.com. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Jimmy Murphy". kahs.ie. Retrieved 6 November 2014.