Art Scene

Zara McDaid

Art Scene: A thousand words paint a picture


ZAP Design is the brainchild of Letterkenny architect Pol Gallagher. Pol has won numerous architecture prizes and art competitions since starting his own practice called Zap architecture in London in 2012.

Pol established the idea of ‘text-art and form’ through playfulness at Glasgow School of Art where he studied Architecture.
His designs are centred on architectural forms and the history surrounding their local context. The imagery is made from words describing the history of the building or area, without the use of line-work.

Living away from his native Donegal; he became increasingly nostalgic for vivid iconic entities that formed his memories of places.
These structures form the imagery that we relate to childhood, growing up, nostalgia and sentiment. These images also conjure up a local pride. It was Pol’s intention to harness this local pride in the advent of mass emigration of Ireland’s youth.


Poor planning control in Ireland sparked a reaction; mainly because many of these beautiful and iconic buildings have been allowed to be demolished, go to ruin or else be surrounded by ‘the cheap and shiny non-architecture’ of the profitable celtic tiger years.

Pols work is like a breath of fresh air. I love the unique way in which he forms the drawings using text personal to a particular memory related to the particular time or place in his illustrations. I strongly recommend that everyone invests in one of Pol’s unique artworks and support this very talented Donegal architect and artist.
If you wish to commission a certain building or family home (drawn with personal text/ poetry/song lyrics bespoke to that place) Pol would love to hear from you.
He has a long ‘to-do’ list of other great buildings in various towns that he hopes to draw, but he is also keen to work with personal requests. Please email for further information and prices.

“As an architect living away from Donegal I started to doodle Donegal buildings; particularly Dungloe and Letterkenny where I grew up.
“I was also interested in the history of each building and the local stories surrounding these structures. I must be honest, I was sad to see the likes of Oatfields in Letterkenny get demolished or indeed the charm of Letterkenny main street start to become overshadowed by; what I would deem the ‘industrial estate’ commercial architecture on the outskirts of the town. “I liked the idea of celebrating Donegal buildings’ history within the drawings. so I decided to start to draw using relevant text and words within the familiar building silhouette.

“The drawings are about creating a recognisable silhouette and offering a snapshot of a local memory, particularly poignant for people no longer living in Donegal.
“I’ve just completed a Letterkenny series in time for the Letterkenny reunion, a Dungloe Series for the Mary from Dungloe Festival and a Donegal Series upon requests from New York.

“I’m working my way through other towns and cities around Ireland now since this informal idea has developed legs into an online venture in Ireland, the UK, America and Australia via the website. I do these drawings mostly in the evening as an enjoyable break away from busy building sites and architectural deadlines.”
Contact ZAP Architecture:; Tel +44 (0)20 37614996, Mobile (UK) +44 (0)75 -94302617; Mobile (IRL) 087-2730275.

Zara McDaid can be contacted on Facebook, search ‘Zara Mc Daid Art’,, e-mail is, Twitter @zaramcdaidart and Instragram ZARA MC DAID

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