community festivals, Gaeltacht

Holy Mountain

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

Now, a bit of a photo essay for you today.  I’m just back from the wilds of Connemara and yes, I can confirm that it’s all four seasons there, in the one day.  What a wonderful place to visit.

But did you ever hear of Mám Éan? – It’s a holy place in the middle of the Maumturk mountains and we had the special privilege of joining the local community there last week for the annual pilgrimage on the first Sunday of August.

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

This pilgrimage, linking back to the Celtic harvest feast of Lughnasa, was revived in recent years by An tAthair Micheál Mac Gréil. The pilgrims walk from either side of the Maumturks to the site. Two holy wells, St. Patrick’s Bed and some other leachtana are the focus of older customs, while more recently the revival has involved the Stations of the Cross and then Mass at the restored Mass rock. There is a statue up there too, sculpted by Clíodhna Cussen.

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

I have to admit that we beat a hasty retreat afterwards, as a roguish raincloud dumped bucketfuls of rain on top of us as we clambered down the mountainside. However, in no time at all, the sun retook control of the elements and pierced the clouds with glorious shafts of sunlight.


photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Mamean Pilgrimage, Connemara

community festivals, Irish art

Friends – and not just Facebook friends

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Veronica Bolay RHA, Shay O'Byrne and myself at the Hamilton Gallery
Artists Veronica Bolay RHA, Seamus O’Byrne and myself at the Hamilton Gallery

It has come to my notice that people actually read my blog-posts from time to time and this gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Yes, it’s really nice to get comments and smilies and such – and I feel very privileged to have made such good friends around the art world, over the years.

And I don’t just mean the artists, it’s great to hear from people who are genuinely interested in the Arts – in fact we artists depend on them!

But I was about to say that the Cairde Arts Festival exhibition is on in Sligo at the moment and of course, the word Cairde is the Irish for friends.

And we met up with many old friends last week, first in Boyle and then in Sligo. The group exhibition “Crazy Jane” is still on at the Hamilton Gallery and then there’s the exhibition at The Model which looks really impressive.

This one is entitled The Model presents Cairde Visual and it’s the fourth annual open submission exhibition of the Cairde Arts Festival. It features work by 87 artists with paintings, drawings, sculpture, lens-based work and installation – and I’m chuffed to have one of my Tinteán Tréigthe paintings selected for the show.

The Model, Sligo from the front
The Model, Sligo from the front
The Model, Sligo from the back (or the new front)
The Model, Sligo from the back (or the new front)

The Model is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary art centres. Built in 1862 as a Model School, the present building has been completely refurbished and extended to include a restaurant, a bookshop, a purpose-built performance space, wonderful bright galleries and a suite of artist’s studios on the top floor.

This award-winning building is home to the Niland collection, one of the most notable art collections in Ireland, featuring works by Jack B. Yeats, Paul Henry, Estella Solomons and Louis Le Brocquy to name but a few.

But back to the present. Do please keep sending in your words of wisdom, your comments and your requests. Is there a particular subject that might be of interest to you?

Just click on the brown ‘comment button’ to the right of the top photo.

art exhibitions, community festivals

Probably the best arts festival in the country!

Oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of empty fireplace entitled Tintean Treigthe 15

It’s true what they say – the Boyle Arts Festival is a real gem of a festival with great music and art, and a special emphasis on small, intimate events in the various historical buildings of Boyle, Co. Roscommon.

Now in its 28th year, this festival has a well deserved reputation for being one of the best local celebrations of the Arts in this country.

Of course, there’s plenty of drama, poetry, storytelling, singers’ evenings and street performances and there’s a great mix of workshops and children’s programmes as well; there’s local art exhibitions, pop-up galleries and craft trails utilising the vacant premises and there’s just a wonderful community spirit in the town – but my main interest this year is in the art exhibition at King House – because I was invited to show one of my Tinteán Tréigthe paintings there (see above).

the crowd at King House Boyle Arts Festival. photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Minister for Arts and Culture at the Boyle Arts Festival

the crowds at Boyle Arts Festival. Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

This year, the theme (and title) is: Facing West and it brings together established and emerging artists in a great array of painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography and drawing. Over 100 artists! The exhibition was curated by Paul McKenna and was officially opened last Thursday by Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. (yes, one wonders about that title alright)

Anyway, it was great to be there and, as you can see from the photos, I wasn’t the only one enjoying the occasion!

art exhibitions, community festivals

A most special place

water colour painting of Ben Bulben by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Well, you probably know already that County Sligo is the most beautiful and interesting county in all of Ireland.

And you probably know about the poet W.B. Yeats and his connections with Sligo, about the lake water lapping around the isle of Inishfree, about bare Benbulben’s head and about the clouds bundling high over Knocknarea…

And then there’s the mysterious megalithic sites of Carrowmore, Carrowkeel and Creevykeel. There’s Queen Maeve’s tomb and the place where the unfortunate Diarmuid was killed by a wild boar…

There’s the holy wells, the secret valleys, the shady woodlands and glorious beaches; there’s the heart-warming new film entitled: Halal Daddy and much, much more…

Well, luckily for me, I’m taking a trip up there soon – for the Cairde Arts festival.

This is a festival that has been going from strength to strength since its inception and the Cairde open-submission exhibition, now in its fourth year, is my main reason for visiting this particular time.

Oil painting by eoin Mac Lochlainn of empty fireplace Tinteán Tréigthe 29

This year the exhibition is entitled: The Model presents Cairde Visual because it has expanded once again and moved into the Model, one of Ireland’s leading centres for contemporary art. The selection panel was Patrick Murphy, Mark Garry, Barra Cassidy, Emer Mc Garry and Lorna Watkins.

There is a wide range of subjects and media from national and international artists and I’m delighted to reveal that my own painting entitled: Tinteán Tréigthe no. 29 (seen above) has been selected for inclusion this year.

The exhibition continues until the 6th of August.

PS: if, by any chance, you think that there’s a more beautiful or more interesting county, then by all means, let me know and drop me a comment 🙂

art exhibitions, community festivals

Irish Portraits

unfinished sketch of Richard Allen by Dave Gleeson
Sketch of Richard Allen by Dave Gleeson

There’s a lot happening at the Harold’s Cross Community Festival this week but I’ll just tell you today about the show that I’m curating as part of it.

It’s an exhibition of portraits by local artist Dave Gleeson. (That’s one of his drawings above). He makes these meticulous, finely crafted drawings in graphite and pastel that must take an age to complete. Each piece is carefully composed using various references to tell the story of the sitter.

But the drawing above is unfinished (I unceremoniously wrested it out of his grasp for this blog post) because I wanted to show you Richard Allen, the celebrated Quaker and philanthropist who was born in 1803 at 201, Harold’s Cross Road, Dublin (seen below).  It’s in a terrible state at the moment but the good news is that it has finally been agreed to fix it up.

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Quaker house in Harold's Cross, Dublin

The theme of the festival this year is diversity and inclusion. There was a great lecture about the Quakers on Tuesday evening. I’ll tell you – those Quakers got themselves into an awful lot of trouble down through the centuries for many reasons. For instance, they believed in equal status for men and women; they believed in everyone being equal in the eyes of God; they refused to pay tithes to the Anglican church; they refused to take an oath of allegiance to any monarch. I tell you: the more I hear, the more I like them!

But Richard Allen was active in movements for prison reform, the abolition of the death penalty and more particularly, for the abolition of slavery. In 1840 he attended the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London, the other Irish delegates being Daniel O’Connell and Richard Robert Madden. His friends included the freed slave Frederick Douglass, the temperance campaigner Fr. Theobald Mathew, the philanthropist Dr. Barnardo and the composer Thomas Moore.

And did I mention that he also raised £20,000 to help victims of the Irish Famine? His concern for the other was second to none.

His portrait can be seen alongside portraits of various Irish personalities from the literary and musical world at La Galerie Impromptu in Harold’s Cross until Sunday, the 14th of May. Well worth a visit!

And, speaking of “Concern for the Other”, there was an innovative new art project launched this week that you might like. I’ll tell you more about it next week but in the meantime, you could check out:


art, community festivals

The Common Good

painting of PH Pearse by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
“…to sacrifice themselves for the common good”

You may remember back in May, artists were invited to respond to The Proclamation of the Irish Republic for an exhibition in Clones, Co. Monaghan. The idea was that they would request a postcard from the Clones Art Studios (which is based in the old Post Office in Clones) and they would turn it into a small artwork and post it back for the exhibition. This exhibition was curated by Eileen Ferguson and proved to be a really interesting show.

Now the exhibition has been invited to the Galerie la Vieille Poste in Larroque in the south of France – and of course, this is la galerie de mon vieil ami, Kenneth Hay.  And of course, both art spaces are based in old post offices.  My piece for the show in Larroque is above, it’s a photoshopped version of a large painting that I did earlier this year.  I’m doing a lot of work in photoshop these days, enjoying messing around with virtual artworks on the computer, instead of painting real ones in the studio.  It’s because I’m working on a video for my art project in Ros Muc… “Lens-based art”, they call it.  A change is as good as a rest, I suppose, but you know, I can feel the studio calling me back.

photo by Ken Hay
Galerie la vieille Poste, Larroque

No but, I wanted to emphasise the idea from the Proclamation of doing something for the “Common Good”.  An idea that seems to have lost currency these days. How did that happen, do you think?  We’re sorely in need of some visionary leadership again, I reckon.  Any thoughts?



art, community festivals

If these walls could talk, what stories they’d tell…

oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
Tinteán Tréigthe no.7, oil on canvas, 2015

Ok, it’s all about the galleries this week – you might’ve heard about the Dublin Gallery Weekend, a new walking visual arts festival that runs from the 11th to the 13th of September?  When I say: a walking festival, I mean yes, you have to walk from one gallery to the next but…  well, they’ve just published a crispy new edition of the Dublin Gallery Map and most of the galleries listed on the map will be involved in this weekend and there’s a great programme of art exhibitions and events going on across the city.

And, of course, The Olivier Cornet Gallery will be involved, operating from its bright new premises at 3 Great Denmark Street (next door to Belvedere College).

On Saturday, a special event will take place in the gallery with the art historian/ storyteller Jean Ryan. Jean specialises in art that is based on narrative. At 1pm she will weave a story at the Olivier Cornet Gallery. The aim is to foster a connection between the viewers and a work of art. This is achieved by encouraging the listeners to choose the moment in the story which resonates with them most and to imagine how they would depict the work if they were the artist. The viewers create their own ‘moments’ which will most likely be different to that of the artist.

photo of Jean Ryan storyteller
Jean Ryan, art historian and storyteller (photo courtesy of Olivier Cornet)

The plot thickens. The story she will tell won’t be about a painting in the Olivier Cornet Gallery but instead, it’ll be about a piece in the nearby Hugh Lane City Gallery. (There’s a nice camaraderie developing amongst the museums and galleries of the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter). Anyway if all this talk of art and “fun” makes you want to see more of it, then that’s great because…  there’ll be a lot of it around this weekend. (define “fun”, me brother says)  Did I mention that my own exhibition “Diaspora” is now installed in the Olivier Cornet Gallery?  The painting at the top is in the show.  There’s more about that here   and  here

Dublin Gallery Map is a handy printed map featuring 28 Dublin galleries and up-to-date exhibition listings (April to September 2015). It is available free of charge in selected galleries, tourist offices and hotels and is also downloadable online.

And your comments are always welcome.  Click on the little brown speech bubble up at the top right of this post and you can put your comment there.  Slán go fóill