Agus muid ag déanamh taighde ar Éirí amach na Cásca i Ros Muc, chuala muid tagairtí go minic ar an bfhear ar léim amach an fhuinneog. Ach cé bhí ann agus cén fáth gur léim sé amach fuinneog?
Pádraig Ó Conghaile an t-ainm a bhí air, príomhoide Scoil Náisiúnta an Ghoirt Mhóir agus b’eisean an fear ar thug Pádraig Mac Piarais go Ros Muc don chéad uair riamh. Tá Micheál Ó Máille, an príomhoide san scoil céanna inniu, tar éis leabhar iontach a fhoilsiú faoi agus bhí an seoladh oifigiúil ar siúl an Aoine seo chaite ag Scoil Náisiúnta Bhriocáin, an Gort Mór.
Bhí sé an-dheas go raibh gar iníonacha Phádraig Uí Chonghaile ann chomh maith don ócáid agus ag deireadh na h-oíche, nocht siad pictiúr a bhí daite agamsa dena seanathair.
But why did he jump?
Well, really you need to read that wonderful book by Micheál Ó Máille to get the full story but this man Pádraig Ó Conghaile was involved in the War of Independence. (In fact, he was the man who brought Patrick Pearse to Ros Muc in the first place).
He was the schoolmaster and one day while he was teaching in the classroom, the sound of an army lorry was heard approaching in the distance. The Black and Tans! Quick as a flash, he jumped out the window at the back of the school and escaped up the Gort Mór mountain.
During our art project Ag Seasamh an Fhóid, I painted his portrait and then, last Friday, following the book launch, the painting was unveiled by his grand daughters Philomena Ní Leathlobhair and Máire Barnard.
(Scroll down for a more “revealing” post, in the English language)
Fuair mé glaoch ó Joe Steve Ó Neachtain an lá cheana. Bhí sé tar éis mo scannáinín a fheiscint ag Scoil Samhraidh an Phiarsaigh agus thaistigh uaidh é a fheiscint aríst!!! “Ar theacht an tSamhraidh” a bhí i gceist aige, an gearrscannán a chruthaigh mé mar chuid den togra ealaíne “Ag Seasamh an Fhóid”. Bhuel, tá clú agus cáil ar Joe Steve mar scríobhnóir, aisteoir, drámadóir agus craoltóir agus mar sin, le barr fiosrachta, d’iarr mé air céard a bhí i gceist aige.
“Bhuel”, ar seisean, “Tá Oireachtas Chois Fharraige ar siúl an tseachtain seo chugainn agus ba mhaith linn é a chraoladh ansin”. (Bhí comóradh speisialta ar siúl acu i mbliana, ní h-amháin ar Oireachtas na Gaeilge 1976 ach ar Éirí amach na Cásca 1916 agus ar bhunú Chumann Forbartha Chois Fharraige i 1966. Agus ní comóradh amháin a bhí i gceist acu leis an bhféile, ach ceiliúradh mór ar an bpobal beo bríomhar atá ina cónaí i gCois Fharraige).
Ní ghá dom a rá go raibh mé iontach sásta gur iarradh ormsa a bheith páirteach sa bfhéile seo agus, fiú má bhí sé déanach, d’éirigh liom mé fhéin a eagrú agus – as go brách liom, siar go Conamara don deireadh seachtaine.
Oíche dé hAoine, bhí ceolchoirm álainn ar siúl ar dtús: “Caithréim”, á chur i láthair ag Síle Denvir agus a cairde. Ansin craoladh “Ar theacht an tSamhraidh” agus ansin chuir Fíbín “Mac Piarais i bPictiúir” i láthair. Níos déanaí fós, bhí seisiún ceoil ar siúl go maidin, i dTigh Mholly in Indreabháin.
Leanfaidh mé orm i mBéarla anois, mura miste leat…
Now I’m told that I don’t spill the beans when it comes to my art, that I don’t reveal much of my true self, my motivations, my raison d’etre etc. But I dunno, I thought I did – I thought that, if you were reading this blog regularly, you’d have a pretty good idea of where I’m coming from, where I stand on things. But anyway, today I’m going to tell you about a piece of art that I’ve been working on all this year.
It’s a short film that ‘still needs work’ but is a combination of a whole lot of ideas that have been running around in my head for a long time. This film is entitled: “Ar theacht an tSamhraidh” – meaning: as the summer comes. It was shown at a festival in Connemara last weekend and you can see it here below. (If you can’t see it just below here, you should click directly into the blog to see it)
The title refers to a song that was written/modified by Patrick Pearse: Óró, ’sé do bheatha abhaile. This was a song that was sung by the 1916 Volunteers on their long marches, as they trained for the the upcoming battle, and it was also a song that we all learned as kids (well, where I grew up, we all learned it). Generally speaking, I would say that the mood of the song is celebratory; the summer is coming and it’s all going to be wonderful. A more careful reading of the lyrics reveals that ‘our beautiful land has long been in the possession of robbers but, at last, we’re going to rout those pesky foreigners out of town’. Note: I didn’t call the film: Now that the summer has come, I called it: As the summer comes (will the summer ever come, I wonder?) but anyway, the film winds its way from frosty winter, through budding springtime to glorious summer, showing the flora and landscape of Connemara along the way.
But that’s just one strand. The short stories of Pearse are also woven through it. Then there’s my own connection with Pearse, through my father and grandfather. There’s also the characters in Ros Muc who worked closely with Pearse before the Easter Rising. The film explores the rapport that developed between Pearse and the locals back then. In many ways, I can relate to this relationship because in the past year, I’ve been an outsider myself, a stranger from Dublin, getting to know the lie of the land and meeting up with the locals. I heard many stories about Pearse and I felt that I got to know the man and that I could understand him… indeed, I was a bit like him myself – quiet at first but just loving to be there and listening to the old stories… I sometimes wonder if my father was like that too…
I can see now why I haven’t written at length about particular pieces of art before because, as you see, I’ve only just scratched the surface and I’m already running out of ink. There’s more about this project on a previous blog ( here ) but I reckon I’ll leave it to another day to continue with “the revelations”. Is that ok with you? I’ve one question for you – Would you prefer more or less words in the blog posts in future? Your comments are always welcome.
My mother (God rest her) must have taken this photo. It was in Connemara and they were on their honeymoon… it was a long time ago but we still had a copy in a dusty old photo album at home in Ranelagh. It was lovely to see it projected onto the gable end of Pearse’s Cottage in Ros Muc last weekend.
It’s a long story. But maybe today, I’ll just tell you about the short film that I produced as part of my artist’s residency in Ros Muc this year. It’s a collage of images, all merging from one to the next, telling the story of Patrick Pearse and my grandfather and my father and the influence and inspiration of Ros Muc from generation to generation. (There’s a link to the film below – if you can’t see it straight away, you should click into the blog itself).
According to the writer Pádraic Óg Ó Conaire, my grandfather was staying with Pearse in Ros Muc and he was the one in charge of the magic lantern, an early version of the slide projector. At night they projected images onto the wall outside, as part of the festivities of Fleadh an Turlaigh Bhig and this was the first time that anyone in Connemara had seen anything like it. So we decided to project my short film as a special commemoration of this event. Here’s the film below –
So… mar chuid de chlár Scoil Samhraidh an Phiarsaigh, bhí seans againn léiriú a thabhairt ar ár dtogra ealaíne “Ag Seasamh an Fhóid”, an togra a bhí idir láimh agam fhéin agus Nuala Ní Fhlathúin i gcomhar le muintir Ros Muc ar feadh ráithe. Thaispeáin mise an gearrscannán seo don chéad uair i Scoil an Ghort Mhóir agus bhí Nuala Ní Fhlathúin tar éis ealaín suiteála a chruthú thíos ag Loch an Turlaigh Bhig don deireadh seachtaine.
Nuair a bhí an chuid fhoirmeálta thart agus an phobail ag scaipeadh, d’imigh mise agus mo dheartháir (Fearghas) trasna go dtí Teach an Phiarsaigh aríst. Bhí soilse fós ar lasadh ag Scoil an Ghort Mhóir ach bhí muidne linn fhéin i gcoim na h-oíche. Chuir muid an teilgeoir ar siúl agus sheas muid ansin, le sceitimíní do-inste orainn, agus muid ag faire ar na h-íomhánna tochtmhara ag teacht agus ag imeacht ar bhinn tí an Phiarsaigh.
Buíochas le Dia, bhí an aimsir tirim, bhí an oíche galánta agus d’oibrigh gach rud gan stró don ócáid speisialta seo. Tá níos mó eolais faoin togra ealaíne ar an mblag: “Ag Seasamh an Fhóid” (an chéad nasc thíos)
Yes, you could say that I’m leading a sort of double life this year, here one week and gone the next… and not only that but I’ve got two blogs on the go as well – so this week, I’m going to reveal all, to let you into my secret alternative life, a sort of dream-life where I’m a rambling scholar, wandering along some lonely shore in Connemara…
While the group show “Republic” continues its successful run at the Olivier Cornet Gallery in Dublin, over in Ros Muc, things are gearing up for Scoil Samhraidh an Phiarsaigh, a summer school that examines Patrick Pearse’s vision for the future of the Irish Language.
Nuala Ní Fhlathúin and myself have been working on a special art project in Ros Muc during 2016 and my short film about it will be shown for the first time at the summer school at the end of July. Have a look at my other blog: “Ag Seasamh an Fhóid” and you can read all about it.
For me, it’s really about trying to reconnect with a part of me that was almost lost, a journey back in time, looking for… I dunno what – and what did I find? Sometimes, it felt like I was ‘going home’. I have to say that it has been a wonderful experience. It is difficult to explain. But I created this film anyway, to try to bring it all together. It’s entitled: ArTheacht an tSamhraidh and I’ll publish it here after the summer school. The image above is a still from it. I was reading Ó Pheann an Phiarsaigh, a book of short stories by Patrick Pearse, and all the stories are based around Ros Muc, so I went around and photographed those places and created a sort of collage of images. My nephew Pearse McGloughlin created the soundtrack for it.
Nature takes over, gradually covering the ground and climbing the walls of crumbling dwelling places. Yes, back up in North West Donegal again and searching for a house where my great grandmother once lived. This time I had it on good authority that her one-roomed cottage was one of a small group of cottages, ‘a black dot near the letter “S” of Newtown Springfield’ on the map, not far from An Tamhnaigh… Hmmm, exactly how far was ‘not far’, I wasn’t sure.
Well I’ve written about my fascination for crumbling buildings before but here we go again – I have an exhibition in An Gailearaí in Gaoth Dobhair, a solo show entitled Tinteáin and I’m really happy to have the show here because it’s where I first began my series of paintings of empty fireplaces. (The painting above is one of my more recent ones). I’ve told the story of the fireplaces before – see the link below:
A few years ago I was on an artist’s residency near Gort a’ Choirce when I met up with the poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh. He showed me one of his poems – Na Bailte Bánaithe – about how spirits haunt the land, long after the people who lived there had gone. Here’s a short extract, with my translation below.
Tá ochlán chaointe sa ghaoth
a shéideann aniar ó Altán
is anseo tá damhán alla
ag fí aibíd an bháis
i bhfuinneog bhearnach an tseantí
inar chonaí mo chineál fadó.
There’s a loud wailing cry on the wind
that blows eastward from Altan
and a spider weaves a shroud
in the vacant window of the house
where my people lived long ago.
…and my uncle mentioned a painting of Mulroy Bay by my grandfather and we wondered what had happened to it. Well I don’t know but I did a painting of Mulroy Bay myself, let’s see now… probably 25 years ago now. That’s it below, possibly the same view that my great grandmother had, fadó fadó agus is fadó bhí…
PS: The solo exhibition Tinteáin follows on from my Diaspora exhibition with the Olivier Cornet Gallery in Dublin last October. It’s on the same theme but all of the works are new.
Well, if you’ve been to visit Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands, you will surely have heard of the wreck of the Plassey. This rusting hulk, a cargo ship of the Limerick Steamship Company, can still be seen sitting there on the rocks, slowly disintegrating with each passing year.
It happened in March 1960, she was travelling up from Fenit Harbour in Co.Kerry when she was driven off-course in a terrible storm and she struck the rocks to the east of Inis Oírr island. But this is a good news story – a story of courage and determination – because not one sailor perished on that fateful night.
The ship struck the rocks around 5am in the morning but the islanders heard their SOS and they rushed to the scene. Remember, those days there was no cars, no electricity (and no Facebook) on the island but… they had a rocket (!) which was specifically for this sort of situation. They shot out the rocket towards the ship, with a rope tied on behind. Twice the rocket was blown astray in the howling winds but fortunately, the third rocket reached its goal and a stronger rope, with a harness called a ‘Breeches bouy’ attached, was pulled out to the ship. One by one, each member of the crew was hauled ashore. Every last one of them was saved. And then, sometime afterwards, on another stormy night, the Plassey was lifted bodily from the rocks where she lay, and thrown up onto the shore and – that’s where she rests until this day.
Now I’ve stood where they stood to shoot out the rockets and let me tell you that that rock – Carraig na Finise – is a long way out from the shore. How they managed to reach the ship with a rocket, as the storm was raging all around them is just dochreidte – ie: amazing, unbelievable… But, as you can imagine, there’s an awful lot of stories about that night and especially, stories relating to what happened the salvaged cargo… There was timber doors, yarns and bottles of Black&White scotch on board. Refrigeration pipes from the ship’s hold were cut into sections to make gates all over the island. Nobody seems to remember what happened the whiskey but there was an awful lot of woollen jumpers knitted that year in ‘Plassey blue’.
But I think about that story every time I visit Inis Oírr and I often wonder – what would be a good way to pay tribute to the men who saved the day? A watercolour sketch like no.2 above, just doesn’t tell the story adequately. I also wondered about doing a series of oil paintings, inspired by the rusting metal… (photo no.1 above) But that wouldn’t do justice to the deed either, I’m afraid… I even thought of salvaging bits of the ship meself, and creating pieces of ‘found art’… (like no.3 below).
The good thing, by the way, is that the whole episode was captured on camera. You can see photographs of the dramatic rescue in the island’s three pubs, in Áras Éanna and even in the National Maritime Museum in Dún Laoghaire. Yes, they tell the story but do they inspire? Do they lift the spirit? I was thinking that it should be a visual celebration! Any ideas, yourself? What would you suggest as a fitting tribute?
PS – and finally, here’s a photo of one of the survivors of the Plassey shipwreck, Mike Tobin, as he demonstrates the Breeches Buoy at a special celebration in Áras Éanna, 50 years later. (from www.seabreezes.co.im/)
Ah yes, it was a lovely opening to an art exhibition. Believe it or not, we had Appletinis, especially made for us by Seán. This concoction, which was the favourite tipple of JD (in the television series Scrubs), is an apple martini containing mainly vodka and apple juice but with a dash of allsorts of other delights added in. Nice. I never had it before. And the turf smoke? This was especially produced for the occasion by Pacella Uí Chonaola.
Have you ever noticed, in the West of Ireland, the distinctive smell of a turf fire burning? You can smell it on the wind. It only comes from burning ‘sods’ of turf, you won’t get it from factory-produced peat brickettes… oh but it brings back such sweet memories. It always reminds me of the first time I travelled to Connemara, a long, long time ago…
But yes, I was going to tell you about the official opening of my solo exhibition: “Tinteáin” in the arts centre on Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands. It was opened officially by the poet Dara Ó Conaola who lives on Inis Oírr with his family. I really appreciated the welcome they gave me there and, as I said, his wife Pacella organised a tiny turf fire (on a little saucer) which added something extra special to the atmosphere in the gallery for the opening. They are a very creative family and both Lasairfhíona and Macdara have brought out CDs of their music. (I’ve been listening to these CDs all the time in the studio, since I returned home)
But the reason we had the scent of turf smoke was because the paintings in this exhibition was a series of empty fireplaces, from old abandoned houses in County Donegal. We thought that the scent of burning turf would evoke memories of the old days. I began this series a couple of years ago as part of an exploration of Irish emigration and, no doubt, the islands have seen more than their fair share of emigration over the years…
Bhí lóistín agam aríst in Áras Éanna agus mé ag crochadh na pictiúirí don taispeántas agus thaithin sé sin go mór liom. Tá an t-ionad ealaíne seo suite i sean-mhonarchan athchóirithe ar an taobh thiar de Inis Oírr. Monarchan fíodóireachta a bhí ann tráth ach anois, tá amharchlann le 75 suíocháin ann chomh maith le dhá ghailearaí ealaíne, caifé, cúpla ceardlanna, stiúideo mór agus áit cónaithe fairsing do ealaíntóir.
Tá an stiúideo an-dheas, le fuinneog mór ag breathnú siar. Más ag gabháil le péintéireacht atá tú, chuireadh sé gliondar ar do chroí a bheith ag obair ann. Agus tá radhairceanna álainne ar an oileáin, go h-áirthe má tá tú ‘faoi dhraoíocht ag ceol na farraige’. Athraíonn an aimsear go minic anseo agus níl foscadh ar bith le fáil má thosnaíonn sé ag cur báistí agus tú i bhfad ó bhaile. Caithfidh mé a admháil, mar sin féin, go raibh aimsear deas agamsa ann (!). Go h-iondúil bíonn an t-ádh liom, buíochas le Dia.
Tá muintir na h-áite an-cháirdiúl (tá aithne ag gach duine ar mo dheartháir Fearghas a bhí ina chónaí ar Inis Oírr fadó). Mar sin, thaithin an turas go mór liom – go h-áirithe mar go rabhamar i gceartlár na Gaeltachta agus go raibh deis agam mo chuid Gaeilge a chleachtadh.
Now, so I told you about the Appletinis, and I told you about the scent of burning turf…what else? Well, I had quite a few paintings in this show. I had eleven paintings of fireplaces and fourteen paintings of the sea and sky… These sky paintings were verging on the abstract – they were referring to possibilities, I suppose, or to the promise of new life.
This exhibition is nearly over now but I’ll be having another showing in Dublin in October this year, with the Olivier Cornet Gallery, but that’s another story.
Your comments are always welcome, thanks for your interest, eoin