Windows into Worlds long gone

painting of Pearse's cottage in Ros Muc by Piaras F. Mac Lochlainn
Piaras F. Mac Lochlainn: “Teach an Phiarsaigh”

I’ve been thinking about my Dad the last few days. That little watercolour above was painted by him about 70 years ago.  It was hanging in the sitting room as we grew up and it always reminded me of him. He died when I was quite small.

It’s a painting of Pearse’s Cottage in Ros Muc. I went there once to see if I could find the exact spot where he painted it but it’s totally overgrown now, as you can see below, you can’t see the house properly anymore. The land has gone back to nature (which is no harm, I reckon).

photo by eoin mac lochlainn of Pearse's cottage in Ros Muc

But when you look at the dry stone wall in the painting, there’s a strange pointy stone a little to the left of the cottage.  Funnily enough (or maybe not), that stone is still there. You can see it in my close-up photo below. The cottage was built around 1905; my Dad painted the picture sometime in the 1950s; and now, years later, the same stones are still sitting there – while we humans come and go.  I can’t quite figure out how the cottage is so obscured from view these days though, it seems like it has sunk a little into the landscape.

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Pearse's Cottage, Ros Muc, Connemara
the pointy stone outside Pearse’s Cottage, Ros Muc

Anyway, why all this melancholy?  Ah, it’s not melancholy really, it’s just that I’m thinking about the thread of art that comes down to us from generation to generation – because now, I’m going to tell you about an exhibition that opens tonight in Kilmainham Gaol – an exhibition of drawings and paintings by my grandfather Alf Mac Lochlainn (!) and it’s entitled: ‘Intervals of Peace’

watercolour of cell in Mountjoy jail by Alf Mac Lochlainn

This watercolour was painted when Alf was in prison in Mountjoy Jail during the Irish Civil War in 1923.  I never met my grandfather, sadly he died before I was born, but he left behind an amazing collection of portraits and paintings which were carefully preserved by my cousin Tim.

I know that the various portraits are of historical significance (for example, the one below is Joseph Clarke who took part in the Battle of Mount Street Bridge during the Easter Rising) but for me, these artworks are a special link with my grandfather and a wonderful window into his world.

pencil drawing of Joe Clarke by Alf Mac Lochlainn in 1923

And I wish that my father was here today to see this exhibition of artworks by his father.  To be honest, I’d say that neither of them would have imagined this event, an art exhibition supported by the Office of Public Works, of drawings created in prison during the fearful days of the Irish Civil War…

I’ll be writing more about this in a future blog.  The exhibition continues at Kilmainham Gaol Museum until the 25th of October, 2022 and will then travel to the Pearse Museum at St Enda’s in Rathfarnham.

Kilmainham Gaol

‘Intervals of Peace’ Exhibition






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