art, Poetry

Books, Poems and Billycan Bombs

Mary Plunkett : Limited Edition Book, with the selected poetry of Joseph Mary Plunkett and George Noble Count Plunkett. Dos-a-dos layout, signed by the artist.
Mary Plunkett : Limited Edition Book, with the selected poetry of Joseph Mary Plunkett and George Noble Count Plunkett. Dos-a-dos layout, signed by the artist.

Yes, so I’m sure you’ve heard of the poet Joseph Mary Plunkett who was executed after the Easter Rising of 1916 but did you know that he had a brother called George who was also involved. And George was the grandfather of Mary Plunkett who is participating in “Republic”, a group exhibition at the Olivier Cornet Gallery. And her great grandfather was the Count Plunkett.

But speaking of the Plunketts, I have to tell you a story about the Kimmage Garrison which was billeted out in the Plunkett residence in Larkfield, Kimmage before the Rising. They were marching into Dublin on Easter Monday, under the command of George Plunkett, but it was looking like they were going to be late, so George took out his pistol, stepped out into the road and he held up the Harold’s Cross Tram. 52 volunteers clambered onto the tram with their guns, provisions and billycan bombs, and then George paid the 52 tupenny fares to the GPO.

And the Count: George Noble Count Plunkett was also a poet and some of his poems feature in the exhibition. I include one here below and then, a few more images after the poem.  And if you’re around this evening (Thursday) there’s a panel discussion in the gallery at 7pm – a National Heritage Week event, it’s free, all are welcome…


The Shining Woman   – by George Noble Count Plunkett

The morn the Shining Woman

was standing in my way,

she said, ‘You’ve looked for many a one,

but did you look for me?

If you’re my man you’ll suffer stripes

from high and low degree,

come make your choice, to live at ease,

or die because of me.’


I said, ‘O Shining Woman,

your love no man denies,

but I am to be married

to a girl that’s to my mind;

and must I leave her kindly arms,

a faithful soul desert,

because you come and call me

like a fairy from the earth?’


Then spoke the Shining Woman,

‘Now look at me’, she said,

and when I looked I saw the face

of the girl that I would wed:

I knew her smile, I knew her voice

that bid me be foresworn,

but to the Shining Woman

for all I would not turn.


I said, ‘O Shining Woman,

my mother waits at home,

I am her only staff and stay

my father being gone.

Must I give up her lonely bones,

my father’s name belie,

because a lovely stranger

would send me on the way?’


Then spoke the Shining Woman,

‘Now look at me’, she said,

and when I looked I saw the eyes

my mother has for me,

and in my mother’s voice she spoke,

‘Your father he was true,

and would you have him in his grave

to turn away from you?’


I said, ‘O Shining Woman,

you hold my heart alone,

though I may tramp the rugged hills

or stand beside your throne.

I’ll live for you, and be content

to lie below the sod,

if I can strike a blow for you

And keep my soul for God!’


Now, there was plenty more good work in the exhibition ( which is coming to an end on the 31st of August). I just want to show a few more gems here, but if you can, drop into the gallery yourself for a look, it’s always better to see the works in real life…

Beatrice O'Connell, 'Cherish all the children I', oil on canvas (27x34cm)
Beatrice O’Connell:  ‘Cherish all the children I’, 2016
David Fox: 'The Gates-Springfield Rd II, 2016
David Fox: ‘The Gates-Springfield Rd II’, 2016
Eve Parnell: 'A noble failure is not vain...' (from 'O'Connell Street' by Francis Ledwidge)
Eve Parnell: ‘A noble failure is not vain…’ (from ‘O’Connell Street’ by Francis Ledwidge)

David Fox artist/


art, Historic


Oil painting by John O'Grady of the Plough and the Stars over Dublin City
“The Starry Plough”, by John O’Grady

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité – Today, I’m thinking about Fraternité: not brotherhood as such but solidarity, mutual support, Comrádaíocht… and it’s something we need more of, these days, I reckon.  The old Irish tradition of the Meitheal, where groups of neighbours got together to help each other in turn (with farm work mostly) – I believe that it’s coming back. I hope it is. Don’t you think that it’d be great if we all looked out for each other, all for one and one for all?

The painting above is “The Starry Plough” by John O’Grady.  It is featured in the group exhibition “Republic”, now on at the Olivier Cornet Gallery.  It recalls the early days of trade unions in Ireland, and the men and women of the Irish Citizen Army who took part in the Easter Rising.  “Looking out across the sea of lights from Montpelier Hill”, writes O’Grady,  “each light is a life, a citizen.  Overhead every night, the ‘Starry Plough’ shines brightly”… and every night, the Plough returns, a reminder that James Connolly’s words are still with us and still very relevant to this day”.

We’re going to have a panel discussion in the gallery next week. This exhibition has raised so many issues and interesting topics during the course of its run – so we thought we’d bring together a panel of artists and experts to discuss these issues. We will also consider the role of the artist in commemoration. Boy, oh boy, when I think back to the original briefs for the Centenary Programme… and that video

Anyway, a lot of good stuff has happened since then, a lot of people got involved. Any thoughts yourself about how it all went?  Your comments are always welcome.  I don’t think I heard from you for a while… ?  The panel discussion takes place at 7pm next Thursday, the 25th of August, 2016. That should be lively🙂

John O’Grady Paintings


art, Historic

An Elephant in the Gallery

"Just Boys and Girls", 40 paintings by Kelly Ratchford in memory of the 40 children who were killed during the Easter Rising, in the Republic art exhibition at the Olivier Cornet gallery, Dublin
“Just Girls and Boys”,  40 paintings by Kelly Ratchford in memory of the 40 children who were killed during the Easter Rising

Odd, wouldn’t you say, that there are very few art exhibitions in Dublin about the Easter Rising in this centenary year. There have been concerts, readings, plays and poetry evenings – but not much art. For various reasons, the visual artists seem to steer clear of ‘political’ work – but in my opinion, all art is political. It cannot be separated from the society from which it emerges. And I’m happy to read in the Irish Times that the artistic director of Project Arts Centre agrees with me!

“What surprises me most”, he writes, “is that some citizens believe that art should or can only be neutral – that an arts organisation should not present work that challenges the status quo… It is vital for art and artists to be at the centre of our nation’s great debates – as indeed, they always have been…”

Hmmm, I’m not so sure that artists have been at the centre of our nation’s “great debates”.  It seems to me that they (like many citizens) have been particularly reluctant to deal with our turbulent history, with the legacy of Colonialism, with questions of our National identity and such. Anyway, I’m not here today to be ‘artist bashing’ (we have it hard enough as it is), but I thought I’d remind you of the group exhibition “Republic”, at the Olivier Cornet Gallery at the mo, because this exhibition is quietly reflecting on the aspirations of the Proclamation and commemorating those who died in the struggle for Irish independence. It was officially opened by Eamon Ryan of the Green Party during the summer.

Here’s a short film of the exhibition below, if you can’t see it immediately, you should click into the actual blog… If you see an elephant in the room, well – that’s my contribution.

Your comments are always welcome.  Did you see any of the 1916 art projects funded by the state this year?  If you did, what did you think?   Have you been in to see “Republic” at the Olivier Cornet Gallery yet?  If not, why not?  😉



art, Gaeltacht

Clandestine Projection (!) in Connemara

photo of Piaras F. Mac Lochlainn at Rosmuc

My mother (God rest her) must have taken this photo. It was in Connemara and they were on their honeymoon… it was a long time ago but we still had a copy in a dusty old photo album at home in Ranelagh. It was lovely to see it projected onto the gable end of Pearse’s Cottage in Ros Muc last weekend.

It’s a long story. But maybe today, I’ll just tell you about the short film that I produced as part of my artist’s residency in Ros Muc this year.  It’s a collage of images, all merging from one to the next, telling the story of Patrick Pearse and my grandfather and my father and the influence and inspiration of Ros Muc from generation to generation. (There’s a link to the film below – if you can’t see it straight away, you should click into the blog itself).

According to the writer Pádraic Óg Ó Conaire, my grandfather was staying with Pearse in Ros Muc and he was the one in charge of the magic lantern, an early version of the slide projector. At night they projected images onto the wall outside, as part of the festivities of Fleadh an Turlaigh Bhig and this was the first time that anyone in Connemara had seen anything like it. So we decided to project my short film as a special commemoration of this event.  Here’s the film below –


So… mar chuid de chlár Scoil Samhraidh an Phiarsaigh, bhí seans againn léiriú a thabhairt ar ár dtogra ealaíne “Ag Seasamh an Fhóid”, an togra a bhí idir láimh agam fhéin agus Nuala Ní Fhlathúin i gcomhar le muintir Ros Muc ar feadh ráithe.  Thaispeáin mise an gearrscannán seo don chéad uair i Scoil an Ghort Mhóir agus bhí Nuala Ní Fhlathúin tar éis ealaín suiteála a chruthú thíos ag Loch an Turlaigh Bhig don deireadh seachtaine.

Nuair a bhí an chuid fhoirmeálta thart agus an phobail ag scaipeadh, d’imigh mise agus mo dheartháir (Fearghas) trasna go dtí Teach an Phiarsaigh aríst. Bhí soilse fós ar lasadh ag Scoil an Ghort Mhóir ach bhí muidne linn fhéin i gcoim na h-oíche. Chuir muid an teilgeoir ar siúl agus sheas muid ansin, le sceitimíní do-inste orainn, agus muid ag faire ar na h-íomhánna tochtmhara ag teacht agus ag imeacht ar bhinn tí an Phiarsaigh.

film projection by Eoin Mac Lochlainn at Pearse's Cottage in Rosmuc, Connemara

Buíochas le Dia, bhí an aimsir tirim, bhí an oíche galánta agus d’oibrigh gach rud gan stró don ócáid speisialta seo. Tá níos mó eolais faoin togra ealaíne ar an mblag:  “Ag Seasamh an Fhóid”  (an chéad nasc thíos)

photos from the summer school from


art, Historic

The silent bell

oil painting of 'Clonmacnoise Bell' by Lorcan Walshe from Artefact project
‘Clonmacnoise Bell’ by Lorcan Walshe

One of my favourite pieces in the “Republic” exhibition at the Olivier Cornet Gallery at the moment, is the image above entitled “Clonmacnoise Bell”, by Lorcan Walshe.  It’s one of a series of paintings that Walshe created while working as an artist-in-residence in the National Museum of Ireland, some time ago.

Yes, it’s a bell but it stands silently now, an artefact from a bygone age.  Does the bell symbolise the Christian world order?  the power of the church?   the power of education and knowledge?  It raises many questions as it hangs there in the gallery.  It’s not ringing any more…

In this centenary year of the Easter Rising, I wondered what was the connection.  I think of bells ringing out to proclaim the end of war, the end of conflict. But this bell is silent.  Is it referring to the fragile nature of peace?  Is it asking: will there ever be a war to end all wars? Is it alluding to the many conflicts still raging around the world at the present time?  or is it referring to the aspirations of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and questioning whether they have been achieved, or will ever be achieved?

Any thoughts? – your comments are always welcome. And don’t forget that this exhibition continues for a while longer at the olivier Cornet Gallery.


art, Gaeltacht

Going home – now where would that be?


Patrick Pearse in Ros Muc from Ó Pheann and Phiarsaigh and a photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Yes, you could say that I’m leading a sort of double life this year, here one week and gone the next… and not only that but I’ve got two blogs on the go as well  – so this week, I’m going to reveal all, to let you into my secret alternative life, a sort of dream-life where I’m a rambling scholar, wandering along some lonely shore in Connemara…

While the group show “Republic” continues its successful run at the Olivier Cornet Gallery  in Dublin, over in Ros Muc, things are gearing up for Scoil Samhraidh an Phiarsaigh, a summer school that examines Patrick Pearse’s vision for the future of the Irish Language.

Nuala Ní Fhlathúin and myself have been working on a special art project in Ros Muc during 2016 and my short film about it will be shown for the first time at the summer school at the end of July.   Have a look at my other blog:  “Ag Seasamh an Fhóid”   and you can read all about it.

For me, it’s really about trying to reconnect with a part of me that was almost lost, a journey back in time, looking for… I dunno what – and what did I find? Sometimes, it felt like I was ‘going home’.  I have to say that it has been a wonderful experience. It is difficult to explain. But I created this film anyway, to try to bring it all together. It’s entitled: ArTheacht an tSamhraidh and I’ll publish it here after the summer school.  The image above is a still from it. I was reading Ó Pheann an Phiarsaigh, a book of short stories by Patrick Pearse, and all the stories are based around Ros Muc, so I went around and photographed those places and created a sort of collage of images. My nephew Pearse McGloughlin created the soundtrack for it.

That’s all for now, slán go fóill, eoin



art, Historic

While Ireland holds these graves…

'A dead horse' drypoint print by Claire Halpin
‘A dead horse’ – drypoint print by Claire Halpin

Claire Halpin told me a story lately that her grandmother told her mother long ago. When her granny was young, she lived in Mountjoy Square and worked as a seamstress, making alterations to garments for the various outfitters in Dublin. Well, believe it or not, she was going to work on the 24th of April 1916 and, when she turned into O’Connell Street from Parnell Street, she saw a dead horse lying in the street…

Of course, the historians amongst you will know that the Easter Rising had started that very day and some of the King’s horses had been killed – but there’s more to tell.  “Her dream was out”,  Granny said. She had dreamed of  “a fallen horse” just a few days before and now, there it was in front of her, a tragic reminder (if one were needed) of the horrors of war.

This scene is depicted in one of Halpin’s prints in the current exhibition “Republic” at the Olivier Cornet Gallery.  It was made originally for a special touring exhibition entitled: “Little Stories Little Prints”.  This is a commemorative project for 2016, curated by Pamela de Brí, presenting the work of about fifty printmakers from eight different print studios. (The various prints highlight some of the little-known stories and events from the time of the Easter Rising of 1916).

'Arbour Hill plot' - a drypoint print by Claire Halpin
‘Arbour Hill plot’ – drypoint print by Claire Halpin


And Halpin’s second print in our exhibition is a reproduction of a sketch made by a British soldier at Arbour Hill at the time. After the Rising, fourteen of the leaders were executed in Kilmainham Jail and their bodies were taken to Arbour Hill and dumped in a mass grave, buried in quicklime.  General Maxwell was determined that they would not be released to the families, fearing that “Irish sentimentality would turn those graves into martyrs’ shrines”.  But a soldier who witnessed the burials made a quick sketch to note where the bodies were placed, and this sketch can still be seen in the National Archives in London. This year at Arbour Hill, wreaths were laid, prayers were said…  and the executed leaders of the Easter Rising were remembered in a dignified ceremony.


Fearghas Mac Lochlainn ag canadh Caoineadh na dTrí Mhuire ag ócáid chomórtha i gCnoc an Arbhair i mí Aibreáin
Fearghas Mac Lochlainn ag canadh ‘Caoineadh na dTrí Mhuire’ ag ócáid chomórtha i gCnoc an Arbhair i mí Aibreáin 2016

“Republic”, a group exhibition curated by Olivier Cornet and myself, continues at the Olivier Cornet Gallery until the end of August.  And the following exhibition there will be a solo show by Claire Halpin!