Picnics, Pillaging, Treachery and Art Exhibitions

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of the Rock of Dunamaise
Rock of Dunamaise


The Rock of Dunamaise – my cousins tell me that they used to go on picnics there in the old days and, if you knew the place, you’d understand why. It’s not that high, maybe 50 metres or so above the Midlands plain – but it’s got a ruined castle on the top! Such an exciting place for mock battles or ‘hide and seek’.

The first known settlement on the rock was Dún Masc, an early Christian settlement that was built in the 9th century – and pillaged by the Vikings in 842. The castle was built in the 12th century. Diarmuid McMurrough, infamous King of Leinster then donated it (along with his daughter Aoife) to Strongbow in a treacherous deal that would change the course of Irish history. This arrangement led to the first Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169.

So this is where the Dunamaise Arts Centre in nearby Port Laoise gets its name. I’ve always had a thing about Port Laoise because my mother was born there. I’ve also been in Port Laoise Prison, Ireland’s maximum security prison (I was an art teacher there) but the real reason for this rambling introduction is to mention the Dunamaise Open Art Exhibition which takes place on Friday – and I’m in it.


"In the trees", 30 x 30cm, oil on canvas, 2013
“In the trees”, 30 x 30cm, oil on canvas, 2013


Yes, it’s nice to report that my painting “In the trees” was selected for the Dunamaise Open Art Exhibition this year.  More information from


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  1. Yes, I was just wondering – Why is Port Laoise called Port Laoise, since it’s in the middle of the country and there’s no port to be seen, not even a river? There’s a little stream alright but there’s no way that you could sail a Viking longboat in it – so how did the Vikings manage to raid and pillage? That’s my question, any suggestions


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