Nobody would talk about it…

charcoal drawing by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Irish Civil War dead

But behind the scenes, I’ve been working on this project about the Irish Civil War. I’ve hardly told anyone about it but it’s been my main preoccupation in the studio since Christmas.

I was reading “Between Two Hells” by Diarmaid Ferriter and I was struck by one comment in which he stated that it was “a small scale affair” – in that only about 1400 people were killed (as compared to 36,000 deaths in the Finnish Civil War around the same time).

charcoal drawing by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Irish Civil War dead

Well, maybe it was small but to me, 1,400 people dead meant that 1,400 families were bereaved and many, many more were traumatised.  I decided to make 1,400 drawings to commemorate the dead and, in some way, to acknowledge the trauma.

And yes, it was trauma – but it was repressed, shoved under the carpet from the beginning.  Nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to deal with it.  It was just too horrible.

charcoal drawing by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Irish Civil War dead

And I know that there are other horrible, brutal wars going on, around the world right now. Geopolitics. But when it comes down to it, it’s some mother’s son, it’s somebody’s brother or sister, it’s somebody’s neighbour who is killed.

I don’t know what to say.  I just continue to do the drawings.  It’s a daily ritual that seems right.  1400 charcoal drawings – is it some form of atonement, perhaps?

charcoal drawing by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Irish Civil War Dead

I don’t know.  Who knows what part we would have played, had we been there?  Who knows what we might have done?

Your comments and input are always welcome.

“Between Two Hells” by Diarmaid Ferriter


  1. Eoin, what a remarkable undertaking. One hundred years later you are acknowledging these deaths. Could it be displayed near/ alongside/following “Intervals of Peace” maybe. Certainly worth visiting. All the Best, Niamh


  2. Hi Eoin
    This is it in reality. I was intrigued when you mentioned it last month. I would agree with Niamh in the idea of it going on display next to Intervals of Peace. This is something special. All art is, but this goes to a new dimension. I’m just imagining over 1000 Eoins doing something like this for, say, the Somme battlefield. I think the same for places like Auschwitz.


  3. Thank you for always speaking to my soul. I have a similar feeling with these charcoals as I did with the empty fireplaces. The melancholy feeling of loss coupled with the resolve to never forget. You have a very special gift, and I am privileged to experience it.


  4. Bealach maith le mar a thárla a choimead inár gcuimhne. Cuirimis ár muinín i nDia a thug a Mac dúinn d’ainneoin an cogadh de bharr a ghrá dúinn. Is dócha go raibh chuid acu siúd a maraíodh óg agus dathúil – fiú ina mbás.


  5. […] The exhibition continues at Kilmainham Gaol Museum until the 25th of October.  I might add that finding out about these drawings inspired me to begin a new body of work.  I have been working on a series of charcoal drawings over the last year, a series entitled: “Cogadh na gCarad/ the War between Friends” that will be presented in March next year, in a solo show at the  Olivier Cornet Gallery.  If you wish, you can read more about them here. […]


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