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.




  1. It is a beautiful, thought-provoking piece. Perhaps the silence of the bell serves as a reminder; for every day we have a success, in whatever endeavor, a new challenge arises; the only failure is not rising to meet that challenge. The Rising was viewed as a failure by most from a military standpoint, but now we see what grew from it; just like any other work, it’s never truly finished. I enjoyed this post immensely, Eoin, thank you.


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