art exhibitions

Remembering those who never came home

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of MacBride Railway Station, Drogheda

Now, while Concerning the Other is continuing at the Olivier Cornet Gallery, we are already working on the next phase because we’ve been invited to present the project in Belfast next Spring, in the Queen Street Studios Gallery.

So on a trip North lately, I passed through MacBride Railway Station in Drogheda and it brought back memories of another show I’d been involved in some years ago.

That was a Tondo exhibition. Tondo was a group of artists who believed in exhibiting their work in alternative spaces, outside the gallery context. We had shows in a lighthouse, a library, a park, a laneway and even a small crate… but we also showed in the National Gallery of Ireland.

But during the summer of 2010, we had a show in MacBride Railway Station. It’s a quiet place most of the time but then, every once in a while, a train approaches and the whole atmosphere changes.  Suddenly the place is bustling, passengers stepping off the train, friends and family greeting each other, suitcases, tickets, porters… and at the same time there are others getting onto the train, tearful goodbyes, the green flag, the whistle blows and the train pulls out and silence returns.

So many stories…  Sometimes we wait to begin a journey, sometimes we wait for a loved one to arrive.  Maybe we wait in hope or maybe we wait in fear.  Maybe we wait for someone who will never come.  Waiting on the platform, one can only imagine all the people who passed this way before.

This station was built in 1844, just before the Great Famine in Ireland.  How many people passed through here, hoping to escape to a better life in the New World?   How many died in transit?  My work was intended to commemorate all of those people who, for one reason or another, never came home.

art by Eoin Mac Lochlainn, MacBride Railway Station

art by Eoin Mac Lochlainn, MacBride Railway Station
“Ghosts” in the waiting room of MacBride Railway Station, Drogheda

I had two pieces in this exhibition – a small installation entitled : “Ghlaoigh mé arís ach freagra ní bhfuaireas…” (I called again but no one answered), and another entitled: “Ghosts”, a series of 30 screenprinted images, fixed to the windows of the old waiting room.

Concerning the Other


art exhibitions, Concerning the Other

From the Kitchen Sink to the End of the World

image by Eoin Mac Lochlainn for Concerning the Other

It started with a sink full of dirty dishes. A familiar scene, an everyday chore – I don’t know about you but I don’t mind it – there’s something very satisfying about getting rid of all those messy bits of gunge…

But this was a charcoal drawing by Miriam McConnon for the Concerning the Other project. Then Brian Fay changed it to blue and James Hanley added tiny swimmers. “Suddenly, we are at sea again”, he wrote.

Concerning the Other is a collaborative art project that took place over the summer of 2017. It involved ten contemporary artists working together to produce a hundred pieces of art – striving to promote diversity and concern for minorities in these days of mounting racism and intolerance.

charcoal drawing of dishes in sink by Miriam McConnon
“Sinking” – a charcoal sketch by Miriam McConnon for the Concerning the Other project
Image by Ben Readman for Concerning the Other
A stage 6 image by Ben Readman for the Concerning the Other project

The idea was that we’d all work over each other’s artworks and then pass them on to be reworked again. So, when I received the image, a sort of hellish sinkhole had appeared in the sea. (see Ben Readman’s image above). It reminded me of the fantastical novels of Jules Verne, and then Le Phare du Bout du Monde (the lighthouse at the end of the world) came to mind because I had seen a replica of this lighthouse in La Rochelle, France in recent years.

I wanted to add a lighthouse as a symbol of hope in a world that is being shaken by increasingly violent storms (metaphorical and otherwise). The lighthouse stands firm as a reminder of humanity’s ability to invent and develop new technologies for the good of the world.

photo of Concerning the Other Book

Now, you can read more about this and all the other artists’ contributions in a special Concerning the Other book which was launched during the current exhibition at the Olivier Cornet Gallery. It is available in a limited edition of 50 and it contains all the images and all the comments made by the artists at each stage of the process. It really is an intriguing read.

But of course, if at all possible, you should visit the exhibition to see the actual works. It was very interesting to see the images developing online during the 10-week project but it is much more impressive to see the final results hanging on the wall, in real life.

Concerning the Other


art exhibitions, Concerning the Other

Art flying off the wall!

Paper airplanes by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

I don’t know what it is about aeroplanes but I always had a thing about them. As a boy, I had model aeroplanes hanging from the ceiling of my bedroom.

So maybe that was the reason, when I received my “Concerning the Other” artwork lately, that I printed it out and folded it into a paper jet plane.

Ah, I could think of some good political reasons for making the planes (see previous post) but you know, sometimes you just go with your gut. So, after briefly admiring its shapely, aerodynamic lines, I decided to launch it out the bedroom window and I watched gleefully as it glided gracefully into the garden next door.

Well, that was the last we saw of that one. It was instantly pounced upon by an unenlightened mongrel of no definable breed and mercilessly shredded before I could utter:  Art! It’s Art!

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of paper planes hanging in the Olivier Cornet Gallery, Dublin
The real ones take to the air at the “Concerning the Other” exhibition in the Olivier Cornet Gallery, Dublin

Luckily it was only a prototype and, if you’d like to see the real thing, you can come to Concerning the Other, the exhibition that is opening this Sunday, the 10th of September at the Olivier Cornet Gallery, Dublin.

But seriously though, this exhibition is the culmination of a creative process that involved ten contemporary artists working together during the summer of 2017.  It is a fascinating show! And it was crowd-funded by sixty-five very generous donors, true patrons of the arts. It will be officially opened by Patrick Murphy, Director of the Royal Hibernian Academy this Sunday.

invitation to Concerning the Other at the Olivier Cornet Gallery, Dublin

It would be great to see you there.

Concerning the Other


Concerning the Other, Irish art

Ten Concerned Artists

Concerning the Other art project

There’s been so much talk about statues lately – what they stand for, who put them up and what to do about them – maybe it was something in the ether but I know of ten artists who have been grappling with this thorny subject since early summer, long before the trouble happened in Charlottesville, USA.

It began with James Hanley’s drawing: “poking fun at the pomposity of statues” (see below left). For his initial image for the Concerning the Other collaborative art project, he drew a statue looking up at a ceremonial fly-over by the air force. When he passed it on to other artists in the group, they responded to it by painting over it or adding to it in some way and then passing it on again – until it landed on the desk of Ben Readman.

Ben “knocked over” the statue and replaced it with a Pokémon Go character (see below right). He mused that more attention was being paid to these ridiculous virtual creatures than to the millions of actual people who were being forced to flee their homes because of the war in Syria.

Pigment prints from the Concerning the Other collaborative art project

But then, believe it or not, I decided to reconstruct James Hanley’s statue when my turn came and I had various reasons for doing so. I was thinking that, despite all our so-called “freedoms”, that pompous character – the captain of industry – is still controlling the situation. You can tear down his statue if you like but it is society that needs to change.

When I received the artwork, I printed it out and folded it into the shape of a jet fighter. How do Western powers and Western industries show their concern for the Other? Answer: they facilitate the sale of military equipment and warplanes to both sides!  I rearranged all the various elements using Photoshop, trying to achieve a more balanced composition. (See the image at the top).

So I think we need a lot more measured discussion about what to do with these contentious statues. As I read recently on An Sionnach Fionn’s blog – It’s really about what is an appropriate symbol for a shared civic space.

Print from Concerning the Other collaborative art project

And with Concerning the Other, we were trying to promote compassion, diversity and concern for minorities in these days of mounting racism and intolerance. We wanted to do something to try and bring healing to the situation.

The ‘statue’ prints are from one strand of the artworks created for the exhibition. Many other themes are explored as well, by the ten “Concerned” artists. All will be revealed at the opening on Sunday, September 10th at the Olivier Cornet Gallery in Great Denmark Street, Dublin.

I hope some day you will join us…

Concerning the Other




Irish art, sculpture

When words fail…

sculpture by Willie Pearse of Roisin Dubh

“I’ve nothing to say”, he wrote, “we’re still here”.  That was all that Willie Pearse wrote to his mother from the burning GPO, during the Easter Rising of 1916. It’s hard to know what to make of that.

Well, I suppose that if you’ve nothing good to say, better to say nothing… better not add to the worry – but I’ve often wondered what was he thinking back then or indeed, what was he like at all. He was my great-granduncle – a dark eyed, lank-haired, pensive young man – if one can judge by the photos…

But he was an artist and I know something about that. I keep hearing about statues that he’s carved – one in Westland Row church, another in Mount Argus, and one I discovered in St. Stephen’s Green this week (see above). It is lovely to seek them out, over one hundred years later, and to discover how sensitive a touch he had.

photo of Our Lady of Sorrows by Willie Pearse, Westland Row Church
Our Lady of Sorrows by Willie Pearse, Westland Row Church

It was quite moving to be able to touch the smooth marble and to know that he had worked on it all those years ago, must’ve spent such intensely focused time on it, carving the marble and creating the beautiful sad face of Róisín Dubh. Ó a Róisín ná bíodh brón ort…

Bhuail an smaoineamh mé le déanaí – tá go leor, leor scríofa faoin bPiarsach ( ’sé sin Pádraic Mac Piarais ) ach céard faoin bPiarsach eile – Liam Mac Piarais?

Bhí mé i Ros Muc ar feadh seachtaine agus chuala mé roinnt scéalta spéisiúla faoi Phádraic ach tá a fhios againn gur chaith Liam tréimhsí ansin chomh maith – ach níor chuala muid aon rud faoi sin. Conas mar a thaithin an áit leis nó céard ar cheap muintir na h-áite faoi? Nó ar thug éinne faoi deara é, ar chor ar bith?

Portrait of Willie Pearse by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
My portrait in oils of my great-granduncle Willie Pearse

N’fheadar cén sort duine a bhí ann, an fear úd a mhúin ealaíon i Scoil Éanna tráth? An fear a mhúnlaigh na dealbha naofa do séipéil ar fud na tíre. An fear a bhíodh ag aisteoireacht ar an stáitse i mBaile Átha Cliath? An fear a cuireadh chun bás tar éis Éirí amach na Cásca?

Bhuel, sin-sean-uncail liomsa a bhí ann.  Ealaíontóir a bhí ann agus ealaíontoir mise freisin. Tá mé ag ceapadh go dtuigim leis – maidir leis an taobh sin dá phearsanacht.

Ní dóigh liom go raibh fonn air é féin a bhrú chun tosaigh ariamh ach tá mé cinnte go raibh sé sásta agus é ag obair leis sa stiúideo. Más féidir le h-ealaíontóir seans a fháil le bheith ag obair, gan aon bhriseadh nó cur isteach, níl aon rud a thaithníonn níos fearr leis nó léi.

Agus is cinnte gur chaith sé go leor ama ar na dealbha sin.  Imíonn an tuirse is fanann an tairbhe.

PS: the face of Róisín Dubh can be found in the lower part of a larger monument to the poet James Clarence Mangan, in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin.


Gaeltacht, Irish History

What makes a small place so special?

oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Carraroe, Connemara
an old oil painting of mine, a sunny day near Carna

So there was this conversation about what was the true Connemara – was it the mist-covered mountains, was it the bogs and the myriad lakes, was it the stone walls and the little fields or was it Cois Fharraige by the sea…

When there’s no television and no broadband, some people go a little crazy, I suppose, but I remember insisting: –  that there had to be the sea, and floating seaweed, and the lonesome cry of the curlew;  there had to be the scent of turf fires burning; there had to be mountains in the distance, and always, the possibility of rain – but most of all – there had to be the Gaeltacht people, and Gaeltacht life.

And Ros Muc has all that – no wonder that the poet and revolutionary Patrick Pearse was drawn to it, back in the last century. “The most intensely Irish-speaking part of Co. Galway (indeed of Ireland) is Iar-Connacht”, he wrote to a friend, “and the most Irish speaking part of Iar-Connacht is the parish of Ros Muc. It is out of the tourist track but the scenery is wild and glorious…”.

Last week we were over there again, this time with independent filmmaker Marcus Howard, and we were working on a film about Patrick Pearse. We did an interview with Colm Ó Mainnín who has a great store of knowledge about the area and about Pearse’s time in Ros Muc. We also interviewed my brother Fearghas who is a schoolmaster in Indreabhán.

photo of Coilmin O Mainnin and Fearghas Mac Lochlainn
Coilmín Ó Mainnín agus Fearghas Mac Lochlainn i Ros Muc    Photo: Seán Ó Mainnín
Marcus Howard and Eoin Mac Lochlainn filming in Ros Muc
Marcus agus mé fhéin i mbun scannánaíochta ag Caladh na Leice, Ros Muc    Photo:  Fionnuala Rockett

So what do you think?  Why do we keep going back?  Do you have special places that you return to again and again?  What is it that draws you back there?  I’d love to hear your stories…

Slán go fóill, eoin

Marcus Howard – Easter Rising Stories



community festivals, Gaeltacht

Holy Mountain

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

Now, a bit of a photo essay for you today.  I’m just back from the wilds of Connemara and yes, I can confirm that it’s all four seasons there, in the one day.  What a wonderful place to visit.

But did you ever hear of Mám Éan? – It’s a holy place in the middle of the Maumturk mountains and we had the special privilege of joining the local community there last week for the annual pilgrimage on the first Sunday of August.

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

This pilgrimage, linking back to the Celtic harvest feast of Lughnasa, was revived in recent years by An tAthair Micheál Mac Gréil. The pilgrims walk from either side of the Maumturks to the site. Two holy wells, St. Patrick’s Bed and some other leachtana are the focus of older customs, while more recently the revival has involved the Stations of the Cross and then Mass at the restored Mass rock. There is a statue up there too, sculpted by Clíodhna Cussen.

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

I have to admit that we beat a hasty retreat afterwards, as a roguish raincloud dumped bucketfuls of rain on top of us as we clambered down the mountainside. However, in no time at all, the sun retook control of the elements and pierced the clouds with glorious shafts of sunlight.


photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara