Someone was asking me about the title of this painting. Funny thing about titles, it’s never a simple story (and with me, it’s usually extra complicated) but I think it’s always helpful to investigate the titles – you just never know what you might find.
So first of all, I painted this girl for an exhibition in Belfast. I had spent a long time on her eyes so I simply called her “Brown-eyed Girl” (referring of course to Van Morrison’s song, him being from Belfast). Not much thought there, says you but I was only getting started. I also like having titles in Irish for my paintings and – who said that they have the same meaning? A title gives the viewer a way into the painting so, in this way, different viewers can have different ways in.
So then I called it: “Gheall tú dhomsa ach rinne tú bréag liom” – In English it means: “you promised me but you lied to me”. It’s from an old Irish song called Dónal Óg. Such a beautiful sad song, sad and beautiful. Actually, it features in the film “The Dead”, when Mr. Grace recites a translation by Lady Gregory. In the last few lines he says:
You took the East and you took the West from me.
You took the bright moon and the sun from me.
You took the heart from deep within me
And great is my fear that you’ve taken God from me.
Imagine being able to paint that feeling! But you have to listen to the original Irish song to absorb it. Here’s a lovely version by Liadan, and there’s a translation included underneath it.
PS: this painting is 80 x 90cm and it’s in my current exhibition in the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Port Laoise. See more of the work at http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/index_files/page0036.htm
Another PS: By coincidence – I’ve just come across a very informative blog post by Lisa Pressman about titles for paintings.