Big Festival in a small town

Oh, Dunlavin. When I think of Dunlavin, I think of the old ballad – Such grief and such sorrow in one place was ne’er before seen, when the blood ran in streams down the dykes of Dunlavin’s Green – and even though nowadays, it is a homely little town nestling in the rolling countryside of west Wicklow, the story of the massacre of some 36 locals in 1798 was still ringing in my ears as I travelled down there at the weekend for the Dunlavin Arts Festival.

But somebody once said that the beauty of art is that it can transport you in an instant, from this earthly realm into the world of the imagination. You could be in a cold prison cell somewhere or in the trenches of WW1 or maybe just in the depths of despair – and the image of a simple primrose or the face of a child, for instance, can remind you of other places and possibilities and thus, bring you consolation and lift your spirit.

Photo by Eoi Mac Lochlainn of Market House, Dunlavin, Co.Wicklow
Market House Gallery, Dunlavin

In any case, my thoughts of treachery and bloodshed* were soon banished when we arrived in Dunlavin. There was a lovely atmosphere in the town. The sun was shining and the place was buzzing. There was music playing and children’s crafts and plant sales and history walks and – believe it or not, there was a high-flying trapeze act on the green – and there was art exhibitions. I saw five or six of them!

I was there to see the ‘invited’ group show in the Market House – and I was delighted to have my work in such good company. Other artists included Shay O’Byrne, Nicola Lynch Morrin, Elke Thonnes, Gráinne Dowling, Helen Blake, Keith Wilson RUA and RHA members: Joe Dunne, Martin Gale and Anita Shelbourne.

(I had a couple of my ‘Apple’ paintings in the show, like the one seen above)

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of the art exhibition by the Kildare Steiner school in Dunlavin Arts Festival
Another art exhibition – by children from the Kildare Steiner school

Now, there’s one final point that I must mention – nothing to do with art – but about a connection between Dunlavin and Harold’s Cross. Aralt (or Harold) was a Viking who was killed in the Battle of Gleann Máma in the year 999 and is reputedly buried outside Dunlavin under the Crehelp Pillar. Could this be the same Viking that the cross of Harold’s Cross was named after?

They say that he was the younger brother of Sitric, the Viking king of Dublin (but whether or not he was the same fella who used to drink in McGowan’s pub, I suppose we’ll never know).

* Ballad of Dunlavin Green

Kildare Steiner School



  1. Yo! Eoin, had to really really look and enlarge that photo of the apple to see was it an apple or a painting of an apple.
    Excellent. If you could paint money like that I would be a rich man.
    Keep on painting on.
    Take care, Kevin K.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great read Eoin, delighted you enjoyed your visit. Thanks for sharing such positives with us. Enjoy the sunshine.
    Mags Lynott, Dunlavin festival.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Eoin ,It’s good to look at ourselves as others see us .We are lucky to have this festival happening here every year where we can all enjoy the arts for a weekend and it’s easy to take it for granted perhaps .
    Didn’t meet you this year but next year maybe .
    Slan go foill .


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