I was looking through my old photos the other day and I came across this one from a few years back – the Healy Pass in the mountains between West Cork and Kerry.
See the little white house down there in the glen? I wondered what it would be like to live there. Ah, sometimes I think that I was a shepherd in another life, wandering over the hills with my old blackthorny shepherd’s crook…
But you know, even though it looked so appealing from afar, who knows what it was really like down there?
And, while I dream about wild and beautiful places like this, most of the time these days I’m working in my studio, making charcoal drawings for a project entitled: “Cogadh na gCarad” about the Irish Civil War of a hundred years ago. That conflict was probably worse in Cork and Kerry than anywhere else in the country. Atrocities, reprisals, brutality and fratricide.
I’m not taking sides. I wasn’t there. I just think that it was a terrible, terrible tragedy. Both sides in the conflict felt so strongly about it. I’ve no doubt that they were sincerely held views. Who knows today what stance we’d have taken – or how we’d have acted in the same situation. I’m just glad that I wasn’t asked to decide.
But I think that it’s important to remember the Civil War and to mark it – to remind ourselves that peace should never be taken for granted.
I’m making 1,400 drawings to commemorate the 1,400 dead and, in some way, to acknowledge this national trauma. These will be exhibited at the Olivier Cornet Gallery in March this year and there will be a special video projection of the images in the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, Dublin.
I’m grateful to the Irish Arts Council and the OPW for supporting this project.
The boys who dared the Auxies
And who fought the Black and Tans
Were those boys of Barr na Sráide
Who hunted for the wren…
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Sin iad. Ochón
and most of those Boys of Barr na Sráide (a song I sing from time to time) fought against the Treaty (70% of the IRA voted against it) as did the women (most of Cumann na mBan).
Congratulations Eoin on your current work in progress: “Cogadh na gCarad”.
Your images and exhibition will pay fine homeage to those named, and un-named who suffered and died at the hands of their own brethren in those hideous times of civil strife, and with those families who lost loved ones in that carnage.
Thanks Jim, eoin
I remember you publishing that photo, excellent one.
I think we can judge things when we weren’t there and, furthermore be wrong even if we were.
The Civil War was only in part a Cogadh na gCarad and was far more a British proxy war through a foreign-dependent Irish elite, aided strongly by the Catholic hierarchy, against those elements that were fighting for true Irish independence (and some also for true social progress).
And, though there were atrocities no doubt on both sides, they were far more committed by the Free State forces who, furthermore had the greatest resources to avoid them, having courts and jails at their disposal.
I think it is very wrong to equate or equalise both sides in this.
Eoin you know that our Dad, God rest him, was an ardent Dev supporter, but did you know that he once said that even though the others were ‘wrong’ he respected them because they cared enough about Ireland to fight for what they thought was best for our country. (That is not an exact quote). Comhghairdeas as an obair atá ar siúl agat faoi chogadh na gcarad.
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Your 20 faces are fantastic kk
Thanks Kevin – I appreciate your feedback