The Casino, the schoolhouse and the Hanging Judge

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of the Pearse Museum, Rathfarnham
Músaem na bPiarsach/ The Pearse Museum

As you probably know, this is National Heritage Week in Ireland and (what a week) every national monument in the country is open to the public and free to visit.  We tried to visit the Casino in Marino last Saturday. Packed out. We couldn’t get in. And it’s the same everywhere this week. Don’t even think of visiting Newgrange. Mayhem! The Casino, by the way, is a Georgian architectural curiosity on the Northside of Dublin. (in Italian it means: little house)

Well, I’ve two things to say about this. One – it shows that Irish people are big into their heritage and two – they simply don’t think that they should pay for it! Ah, but I understand that too, I come from a long line of people who steam postage stamps off envelopes if the postman forgets to frank them. I wonder is it something to do with the Post-colonial Condition. Anyway, the main thing is that there are all sorts of interesting events and lectures happening this week and happily, I attended one last night at The Pearse Museum in Rathfarnham. This museum was originally the location for Scoil Éanna, the bilingual school founded by Patrick Pearse in 1908.

Róisín Ní Ghairbhí and Shane Kenna were speaking there about their recently published biographies of Willie Pearse and Thomas MacDonagh, two of the teachers and two of the revolutionaries who were executed for their part in the Easter Rising of 1916.

It was a cultural revolution! Thomas Mac Donagh was a poet and Willie Pearse was a sculptor. The Irish language was an important factor in the meascán. Tír gan teanga, Tír gan anam. I mo thúraimse, an bealach is fearr le comóradh a dhéanamh ar Éirí Amach na Cásca ná béim a chur ar an teanga, agus ar an chultúr Ghaelach. Ó, tá na páirtithe poiliticiúla ag iomrascáil is ag scéiméireacht i dtreo is go mbéadh siad féin chun tosaigh sna searmanais comórtha ach – an dtuigeann siad ar chor ar bith céard a bhí i gceist ag an tráth sin dár stair?

Glaine inár gcroí, neart inár ngéag is beart de réir ár mbriathar. Sin é an mana a bhí ag Scoil Éanna (agus ag na Fianna, fadó). Tá go leor le foghlaim againn ó idéalachas an mhuintir a d’imigh rómhainn. Chuir mé an-spéis san léacht sin faoi Liam Mac Piarais aréir. Rinne Róisín trácht ar ról na n-ealaíon i mbláthú an spiorad sna Gaeil ins na blianta roimh an éirí amach.  N’fheadar anois céard is féidir linn a dhéanamh mar chomóradh spreagúil i 2016? Cén ról a bheidh ag na healaíon an babhta seo? Sin í an cheist.

photo of relief of Robert Emmet
Image of Robert Emmet at The Pearse Museum, Rathfarnham

Now, just to finish, I thought I’d mention heritage of a more dubious nature. Hmmmm. Do you know that the Olivier Cornet Gallery has moved into new premises at 3 Great Denmark Street, next door to Belvedere College. (This is where I’m going to have my solo show in September). Well, you probably didn’t know that this was originally the home of Lord Norbury, “the Hanging Judge”, a man who was considered to be one of the most corrupt legal figures in Irish history. His most famous trial was that of the Irish patriot Robert Emmet. Norbury interrupted and abused Emmet throughout the trial before eventually sentencing him to death. Robert Emmet was only 25 years old when he died but he was an inspiration for generations to come.

But no, that Norbury was not a nice guy. However, his Georgian townhouse where we now have the gallery is well worth a visit!  And don’t forget, your comments are always welcome – let me know what you think here.  And here’s some useful links below. Slán go fóill.


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