Historic, Irish art

Quiet determination

oil painting of Padraig Pearse by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
An Piarsach, le Eoin Mac Lochlainn 90 x 120cm, oil on canvas, 2016

Quiet determination – I think that’s what he had.  He was passionate about the Irish language, Irish history and culture, the Irish way of life.

He saw what the English education system was doing, trying to stamp out any indigenous cultures, and produce obedient servants of the British Empire.

“I thank the goodness and the grace that on my birth has smiled and made me in this Christian age, a happy English child” – this was the prayer in Irish National School readers, before 1916.  This was the attitude that he rebelled against – and was determined to change.

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Pearse's Cottage, Ros Muc
Pearse’s Cottage, Ros Muc

Patrick Pearse had a cottage in Ros Muc and last year at Easter, Fionnuala and I went over there to join in the local commemorations of the Easter Rising.

We heard many stories about Pearse from people in the area, people whose grandparents might’ve met him long ago. There were fond memories of him.

People remembered him as a quiet man who visited the area regularly. They described how he would sit with them, late into the night, listening to their stories, endeavouring to learn everything about their way of life, and discussing and developing ideas for a better future for Ireland. Éire saor agus Éire Gaelach.

They appreciated his interest and he inspired them with his dedication.

If you read his short stories (that were based around Ros Muc) you can see how much he loved the place and the people. That was why we wanted to be in Ros Muc for Easter last year, to remember him and to commemorate the Easter Rising, one hundred years later.

Photo by eoin Mac Lochlainn of Raidió na Gaeltachta inside Pearse's Cottage, Rosmuc at Easter 2016
Raidió na Gaeltachta inside Pearse’s Cottage, Ros Muc at Easter 2016

Raidió na Gaeltachta was there to record the occasion. They all crowded into Pearse’s Cottage to interview the locals. The man you see talking in the centre, above is Frank Ó Máille. Pearse stayed in his father’s house, the first time he ever visited Ros Muc. (an Teach gorm – ach níl sé gorm níos mó, faraor). His father met Pearse at Maam Cross railway station and brought him in his sidecar to Ros Muc.

I wanted to create something special to mark that special year. While I was working on an art project there, I created a short film entitled: Ar theacht an tSamhraidh. With my brother Fearghas, we projected it onto the gable end of the cottage, as you can see in the video below this paragraph. (If you can’t see it straight away, you need to click into the actual blog) An raibh an Piarsach féin ann an oíche úd, meas tú, agus an bheirt againn ag seasamh le chéile, i gcoim na h-oíche?

The painting of Patrick Pearse, which appears in the film, is hanging in the Olivier Cornet Gallery in Dublin at the moment. The gallery will be open over the Easter weekend – Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  (that man never stops!)

You can see more about the Ros Muc project at the first link below.

https://emacl.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/clandestine-projection-in-connemara/

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/

 

Culture, Historic

Desecration in Dublin’s Moore Street

This banner has since been removed. It was deemed illegal, its installation having damaged the National Monument.

So Limerick has the Milk Market and Cork has the English Market – how come Dublin’s Moore Street Market has been so sadly neglected?  The main reason is because successive governments didn’t want us to remember our history.

But we know what happened at Easter 1916. We know that a relatively small group of people decided to challenge the status quo, to confront the establishment and to proclaim a republic that would treat all the people equally. And Moore Street was where they took their last stand.

And we know that the idealism of the rebels was not matched by those who eventually took control of our destiny. Isn’t there always those business people who can only think in shillings and pence? Those who cannot appreciate the spiritual or cultural aspects of life?  Why, oh why do we let them run the show?

And we allowed them to snuggle up to the speculators and to sell off our heritage to the highest bidder. “Mór mo náir’, mo chlann féin do dhíol a máthair…”

Have you been down in Moore Street lately?

Have you heard about the speculator’s plans? If it wasn’t for the various Save Moore Street groups, the whole area would’ve been demolished long ago and a massive shopping mall built in its place.

But a High Court decision put a stop to that. Last year, Mr Justice Max Barrett ruled that the entire Moore Street Battlefield site, including all its backlanes, constituted a National Monument and therefore was the responsibility of the Minister for the Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

But what did she do? She lodged an appeal against the judgement and this won’t be heard until next December. In the meantime, the neglected old buildings are steadily deteriorating…

The back room in No.16 Moore Street, where it is said that a wounded Connolly lay and a surrender was first discussed by Pearse and the other leaders. Image: Franc Myles
The back room in No.16 Moore Street, where the wounded James Connolly lay and where Patrick Pearse and the others first discussed the surrender.  Photo by Franc Myles from the Archaeology of 1916 blog (see the link below)

Oh and she set up a Ministerial Consultative Forum to make “recommendations”. (I spoke at this myself – here)    They launched the report this week but the minister’s appeal is still going ahead.

Why? Well, I reckon that by demolishing the Moore Street Battlefield site, they thought that they could bury our history. Build more retail units. Keep people shopping. I reckon that they don’t want people to imagine a different future where idealism, equality and local communities can flourish.  “They think they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have pacified Ireland…”

No Minister, you must drop that appeal.  Your role must be to protect our heritage and to preserve it for future generations.  

Oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn: Tinteán Tréigthe, 50 x 50cm, oil on canvas, 2017
Tinteán Tréigthe, 50 x 50cm, oil on canvas, 2017

You see this painting above? It is an empty fireplace from one of the oldest houses in Dublin. (No. 9, Aungier Street) There has been an awful lot of money spent on the renovation of this rickety old house.  Not because of any particular historical event but simply because it predates the Georgian houses by fifty years. It’s quite safe to do this – it won’t arouse the people’s emotions. But to remind people of the struggles of their forefathers? – That could be risky. That could open a whole can of protesting worms… Better to destroy the evidence before they realise it.

But it didn’t work!

However, we still need to be vigilant. I don’t think that they can be trusted to do the right thing now.  Do you?  Your comments are always welcome. But you could also write to the minister here   and ask her to drop the appeal.

(By the way, the painting above is part of the exhibition “Silent Stories” at Belltable in Limerick at the moment.  This is a 2 person show with Miriam McConnon, curated by Olivier Cornet and it continues there until the 7th of April )

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/#/exhibitions-silent-stories/4593508254

http://miriammcconnonart.com/

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

https://www.limetreetheatre.ie/shows/belltable/

https://thearchaeologyof1916.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/moore-street/

 

art exhibitions, Historic

What’s extra special about the city of Limerick?

collage of oilpaintings by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

No, I’m not talking about EVA or Limerick Lace or even the Rubberbandits. I’m talking about the one and only Limerick Soviet.

In April 1919, during the Irish War of Independence, the British authorithies decided to impose martial law after the killing of a policeman, Mark O’Brien. They declared Limerick a “Special Military Area” which meant that all citizens had to apply for a permit to enter the city.

This did not go down well with Limerick folk and the Limerick Trades and Labour Council responded by organising a general strike. They took over all the shops and businesses in the city and a special strike committee was set up to control food prices, publish newspapers and print their own money. And so the Limerick Soviet was founded and the businesses of the city accepted the strike currency.

The Limerick Soviet became worldwide news because of the presence of hundreds of international journalists in the city at the time, who were there to witness an early attempt to fly across the Atlantic, from Bawnmore in Limerick to the American continent.

painting of empty fireplace by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
“Tinteán Tréigthe no.30”, 50 x 50cm, oil on canvas, 2017

The term “soviet” (meaning a self-governing committee) had become a popular term around 1917 recalling the Russian soviets that would lead to the formation of the USSR. However, it could not be said that this was a truly Communistic uprising. Ruth Russell of the Chicago Tribune remarked on the devout nature of the strike committee when she saw the red-badged guards rising and blessing themselves when they heard the Angelus bells ringing from the church of St. Munchin.

Whether it was the prayers or the stubborn courage of the workers (or both), we’ll never know but the permit system was overturned and this was a victory for the Limerick workers. Unfortunately, the general strike was not supported in the rest of the country and so it ended there.

Now, if you’re wondering why I’m writing about the Limerick Soviet it’s because I’ve been reading about the history of Limerick before my 2 person show there next month (in the Belltable).  Still a few paintings to finish but the painting above – Tinteán Tréigthe no. 30  – that’ll be in the exhibition.  And if you were wondering about the image at the top – it’s one of my old Limerick cityscapes with a Tinteán painting superimposed over it. My red tribute to the erstwhile Limerick Soviet.

Now, if you think that there’s other, more special things about Limerick, please let me know. Drop me a comment  🙂

And there’s more information about the exhibition at:

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/#/exhibitions-silent-stories/4593508254

http://miriammcconnonart.com/

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/

https://www.limetreetheatre.ie/shows/belltable/

art exhibitions, Historic

Thank you, dear Reader

painting of PH Pearse by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

This is a bit of a meandering story (with one new, previously unseen video), to while away some of the time between Christmas and the New Year. It’s bi-lingual so if you wish, you can just read the English text (which is in italics).

So wasn’t that a year to remember! The 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising – it was lovely to be in Ros Muc, in Connemara to mark the occasion.

One of my special memories was attending the community event – Fleadh an Turlaigh Bhig – on Easter Sunday. (you can read more about it here)

We were invited because we are related to Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising. My brother Fearghas and I were asked to speak at this event. “Wasn’t it interesting”, I mused, “that we were two brothers here again, one a schoolmaster and the other, an artist…” (Patrick was a schoolmaster and his brother Willie was an artist).

Fleadh an Turlaigh Bhig, Ros Muc
Fleadh an Turlaigh Bhig, Ros Muc

Bhuel, bhí sé go h-iontach a bheith i láthair i Ros Muc i mbliana le hÉirí amach na Cásca a chomóradh, céad bhliain níos déanaí.  Bhí brat na hÉireann ag foluain i ngach gáirdín agus cuma álainn ar an cheantar ar fad.  Bhí gach sórt imeacht ar siúl – ócáidí do pháistí, do dhéagóirí, do stairithe, do rothaithe(!) do ghaolta agus do chairde – ní fheicfear a leithéidí aríst ann.

Tá cór iontach ag Ros Muc, faoi stiúir ag Cathy Ní Chonaola, agus chan siad ag aifreann Domhnach Cásca agus aríst ag Teach an Phiarsaigh ar Luain Cásca. Chan Jimí Ó Ceannabháin agus Briocán Bairéad chomh maith agus bhí Raidió na Gaeltachta ann leis an ócáid a thaifeadadh ar an dá lá)

Is dóigh gurb é an rud is támhachtaí a thárla ná “Fleadh an Turlaigh Bhig” sa Chrannóg. Tháinig thart ar céad daoine le chéile le comóradh a dhéanamh ar an bhfleadh a chuir Pádraic Mac Piarais ar siúl san áit céanna fadó. Bhí béile deas againn, agus ceol agus craic, insan halla mór a bhí maisithe le pictiúirí álainne de chuid ealaíontóirí na h-áite. Bhí mo phictiúr den Phiarsach ag crochadh ann freisin, pictiúr a bhronn mé ar an Chrannóg ar Aoine an Chéasta.

Fearghas Mac Lochlainn ag canadh Caoineadh na dTrí Mhuire ag ócáid chomórtha i gCnoc an Arbhair i mí Aibreáin
Fearghas Mac Lochlainn ag canadh Caoineadh na dTrí Mhuire ag ócáid chomórtha i gCnoc an Arbhair i mí Aibreáin

Back in Dublin for Easter Tuesday, there was a special ceremony at Arbour Hill, where the leaders who were executed had been quickly buried after the Rising.  A solemn ceremony with military honours, a lone bagpiper, prayers, songs and poems.  I had the honour of placing a single white rose on the headstone of my great granduncle, the artist Willie Pearse.

You know, I was involved in curating two group shows this year – “Rising” in the old monastery of Mount Argus and “Republic”, co-curated with Olivier Cornet. I think we both thought that there wouldn’t be many contemporary art exhibitions dealing with the Rising and we felt very strongly about it – so we did it ourselves. I’ve included two videos below featuring the exhibitions but if you happen to be viewing this on an Ipad, it seems that you won’t see them immediately. You have to click through into the blog to see them. They’re only a couple of minutes each.

More information on “Rising” here

More about “Republic” at the Olivier Cornet Gallery here

Bhí mé fhéin agus mo chlann ag searmanais speisialta i bPríosún Chill Mhaighneann ar an 3ú lá de mhí Bealtaine ach bhí rud amháin eile an lá sin (an lá ar cuireadh an Piarsach chun báis) ar thug ardú meanman domsa. ‘Sé sin an searmanais beag a bhí againn um thráthnóna i Músaem na bPiarsach i Ráth Fearnáin. Chuir mé crann dara ag fás i gcuimhne an Phiarsaigh.

On the third of May, I was at the Pearse Museum in Rathfarnham to plant an oak tree in memory of Patrick Pearse, who was executed on this day, one hundred years ago. It meant a lot to me to have been asked and it was a lovely occasion. My nephew Eoin Gregory was at hand with the watering can and it reminded me of a photograph from an old family photo album. My father planting a tree in the garden of Scoil Bhríde in Oakley Road to remember Pearse after fifty years.

Brian Crowley, director of the Pearse Museum, Eoin Gregory, and Eoin Mac Lochlainn at St. Enda's, Rathfarnham, Dublin
Brian Crowley, director of the Pearse Museum, Eoin Gregory, director of water and Kevin Hutchinson, President of the Tree Council and meself, digging the hole.

Mar chuid de chlár Scoil Samhraidh an Phiarsaigh i Ros Muc i mí Iúil, thaispeáin mé mo ghearrscannán “Ar theacht an tSamhraidh” don chéad uair i Scoil Náisiúnta an Ghoirt Mhóir. Cuid den togra ealaíne “Ag Seasamh an Fhóid” a bhí ann, togra a bhí ar siúl agam i gcomhair le Nuala Ní Fhlathúin.

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 ar an mblag:  “Ag Seasamh an Fhóid” anseo

film projection by Eoin Mac Lochlainn at Pearse's Cottage in Rosmuc, Connemara
My film projection at Pearse’s Cottage in Rosmuc, July 2016  (see the actual film below)

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 the next paragraph – 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 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  (if you can’t see it directly below here, please click into the actual blog)

For me, it was really about trying to reconnect with a part of me that was almost lost, a journey back in time, a search for that elusive thing called ‘Home’, perhaps.  I have to say that it has been a wonderful experience. I created this film to try to bring it all together. It’s entitledAr Theacht an tSamhraidh. 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.

Fuair mé glaoch ó Joe Steve Ó Neachtain… “Bhuel”, ar seisean, “Tá Oireachtas Chois Fharraige ar siúl an tseachtain seo chugainn agus ba mhaith linn do scannán a chraoladh ann”. (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).

So, oíche dé hAoine, i Seanscoil Sailearna, 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. Bhí cairde linn tar éis teacht ón iasacht agus – deirfinn gur iadsan an t-aon bheirt sa halla nár labhair Gaeilge (cé go ndearna John sár-iarracht) ach bhíodar an-tógthaí leis an oíche.

Read more about that – anseo   

Now, I realise that a lot of terrible things happened in the world this year but for me, it’s been a wonderful year. I made new friends, met a whole pile of cousins (we had a special gathering of the Mac Lochlainn relatives this year) I even met an tUachtarán, Michael D…

I could’ve written about a few other ‘firsts’ for me (I was asked to open an exhibition, I was asked to write a foreword for a book…) but this blog is mostly about art so I’ll to stop now, for the moment.

Thank you for reading, thank you for reading throughout the year, thank you especially if you made a comment. Thanks for listening to me.

Ath bhliain fé mhaise dhuit, Happy New Year,  eoin

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

Olivier Cornet Gallery

“Ag Seasamh an Fhóid”  

http://www.pearsemcgloughlin.com/

Oireachtas Chois Fharraige/

Historic, Literature

Last Words, Liberty Hall

Scene from "Seven Lives for Liberty"
Scene from “Seven Lives for Liberty” at Liberty Hall, Dublin

Liberty Hall, once described by the Irish Times as ‘the centre of social anarchy in Ireland’, it was the headquarters of the Irish Citizen Army and a focal point for radical politics in the years leading up to the Rising of 1916. I attended a performance there last Friday, a play called: “Seven Lives for Liberty”.

This was a moving theatrical tribute to the the seven signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, created by Frank Allen and James Connolly Heron and featuring the wonderful songs of Patrick Waters.

The show included a series of dramatic vignettes and scenes from the last moments of the signatories which had the whole audience close to tears. One such moment was the recitation by Mrs. Pearse (actress: Brenda McSweeney) of the poem: “The Mother”, written by her son Patrick…

Brenda McSweeney as Mrs. Pearse in the play "Seven Lives for Liberty"
Brenda McSweeney as Mrs. Pearse (photo courtesy of Marcus Howard)

I do not grudge them: Lord, I do not grudge
My two strong sons that I have seen go out
To break their strength and die, they and a few,
In bloody protest for a glorious thing,
They shall be spoken of among their people,
The generations shall remember them,
And call them blessed;
But I will speak their names to my own heart
In the long nights;
The little names that were familiar once
Round my dead hearth.
Lord, thou art hard on mothers:
We suffer in their coming and their going;
And tho’ I grudge them not, I weary, weary
Of the long sorrow – And yet I have my joy:
My sons were faithful, and they fought.

My father, Piaras F. Mac Lochlainn put together a book entitled “Last Words”, a collection of the letters and statements of the leaders executed after the Easter Rising but sadly, he died in 1969 when the book was still in proof.

As editor and keeper of the museum for the Kilmainham Jail Restoration Society and as organising secretary of the National Commemoration in 1966 of the 50th anniversary of the Rising, he was ideally equipped for the task of compiling “Last Words”. At Easter this year, the current director of Kilmainham Jail Museum, Niall Bergin, told me that this book is one of the definitive books on the 1916 leaders and, almost fifty years later, still one of their bestsellers.

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of first edition copy of 'Last Words' by Piaras F Mac Lochlainn
my first edition copy of ‘Last Words’

https://www.facebook.com/EasterRisingStories/

https://www.facebook.com/JamesConnolly1916play/

http://kilmainhamgaolmuseum.ie/

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

 

Culture, Historic

The last of the true believers ?

painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Pearse' Cottage in Ros Muc
an oil painting of Pearse’s Cottage in Ros Muc – one I painted about twenty years ago

Do you ever feel like you are a minority within a minority? Scroll down to read the English language version.

Bhuel, bhí comhdháil mór ar siúl in Ollscoil na Gaillimhe ag an deireadh seachtaine, comhdháil leis an téama: 1916-2016: Dóchas agus Dúshlán na Ceannasachta Náisiúnta. Ó bhí gach sórt daoine támhachta ann – Enda Kenny T.D., an Dochtúir Maurice Manning, an t-iriseoir Fintan O’Toole, agus an tAire Seo, Siúd agus na Gaeltachta ina measc – ach cén mhaith dhom é, ní raibh mé ann…

Ach bhí mé ag ceann des na h-ócáidí imeallacha a bhain leis. ’Sé sin: Parlaimint na nDán a bhí á reachtáil ag Oireachtas na Gaeilge, le maoiniú ó Ealaín na Gaeltachta, agus bhí mé an-shásta a bheith ag glacadh páirt ansin. Thaispeáin mé mo ghearrscánnán “Ar theacht an tSamhraidh” ann agus labhair mé faoin tionchar a bhí ag comóradh 1916 ar mo chuid oibre. (Is féidir an scannán a fheiscint anseo )

Bhí Diarmuid de Faoite (drámadóir), Ríonach Ní Néill (Cóiréagrafaí) agus Nuala Ní Fhlathúin (físealaíontóir) ag glacadh páirt ann freisin agus Páraic Breathnach ina Cheann Comhairle.  Bhí roinnt cainte againn ansin faoin maoiniú a bhí ar fáil do chomóradh 1916 agus faoi na coinníollacha a bhí ag baint leis.

the before and after photos of Tobar Bhriocán, the holy well in Ros Muc
Tobar Bhriocán Naofa – mar a bhí anuraidh agus mar atá anois

Ar aghaidh liom ansin, siar go dtí Ros Muc leis an t-ionad nua ag Teach an Phiarsaigh a fheiscint. Bhuel, nach mór an feall. Nach raibh an chruatain riamh i ndán dosna Gaeil. Tar éis a bheith ag fanacht le 30 blian le go dtógfaí ionad ceart leis an chaidreamh idir muintir Ros Muc agus an bPiarsach a chomóradh agus a cheiliúradh, céard a fuair siad sa deireadh ach ‘stopadh bus’ ar an Wild Atlantic Way.

Ní dóigh liom go mbeidh mórán de mhuintir na h-áite sásta leis. (ní dóigh liom gur iarr éinne orthu faoi, ar aon chaoi).

Céard faoin sliocht seo a leanas ón mbileog ioldaite faoi Ros Muc:  From turf-cutting to boat trips, historic houses to hill walks, rural landscapes to magical sunsets, Ros Muc is the perfect place to experience special family moments and create memories to share with your friends. ’nfheadar an raibh an té a scríobh an sliocht sin riamh i Ros Muc? An bhfaca sé nó sí rásaí na gcurrachaí riamh nó damhsa ar an seanós, nó… Nó ar léigh sé nó sí gearrscéalta an Phiarsaigh?

Ach ansin, lean mé orm isteach go dtí reilg Chill Bhriocáin. Bhí duine eicint tar éis slacht a chur ar an tobar naofa. Bhí an áit deas néata agus bhí leacht nua curtha acu ann. Thug an leacht simplí sin ardú meanman dom…

photo of 1916 centenary ceremonies at Teach an Phiarsaigh, Ros Muc 2016
The locals gathering outside of Pearse’s Cottage at Easter 2016

Yes, well somebody was saying that those who took part in the Easter Rising were a minority within a minority. This was intended to cast aspersions, perhaps, on the men and women who took a stand against the British Empire in 1916. That same somebody might also have asked: ‘But did they have a mandate to embark on such drastic action?’ To that person I would say: Did the British Empire ever seek a mandate to collonise or to plunder the resources of Ireland, or indeed, of half the world?

Anyway, I was thinking about minorities because, as part of the National Centenary Conference at NUI Galway at the weekend, I took part in a panel discussion entitled: Parlaimint na nDán, about the arts and commemoration. I showed my short film “Ar theacht an tSamhraidh” (you can view it again by clicking here) and I heard about productions that had received huge state grants and other projects that had struggled to subsist.

In the area around Ros Muc, where Patrick Pearse found his inspiration, they managed with very little state funding this year, despite the fact that a new “interpretive centre” was being built there for the tourists. They organised simple but meaningful commemorations, dignified solemn ceremonies and uplifting musical gatherings with readings from the short stories of Pearse. We felt very privileged to be able to attend these ceremonies at the Easter weekend.

So yes, it was a minority within a minority, as it always will be. There are precious few out there who are willing to stand out from the crowd and do what is right. But so be it. We must not lose heart. Níor chaill fear an mhisnigh ariamh é. (Fortune favours the brave, they say). What do you think?

http://www.ireland.ie/events/parlaimint-na-ndan

http://www.ireland.ie/news/galway-gears-centenary-conversations-and-national-conference

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/

art, Historic

Moore Street, Big Apples and Airbrushing

small oil painting of Halloween Apple by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
Halloween-Apple-no.2, 20 x 20cm, oil on canvas

You know of course that Irish apples are the nicest, sweetest, juiciest apples in the world.  I did a series of apple paintings a while ago.  I was working on a project about Moore Street at the time.  But wait’ll I tell you what’s been happening on Moore Street since then.

You know that Moore Street is inextricably linked with the Easter Rising of 1916. This is where the last stand of the revolutionaries took place. Five of the signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic spent their last hours of freedom here. But would you believe that there are plans now to turn this historic area into a gigantic shopping mall?

Of course there was protests. There was even a case against it in the High Court. The court ruled that the entire Moore Street battlefield site constituted a National Monument, to be protected and preserved by the state but still, believe it or not, the Irish government is challenging that decision!

Anyway, in the meantime, the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs set up a “consultative group” to consider views on the best way forward for Moore Street and, as it happens, I was there in City Hall last Friday to have my say. Now we only got the invitation on Thursday so we really didn’t get enough time to prepare but Donna Cooney, a relation of Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell and a true stalwart of the 1916 Relatives’ Association, had a great presentation ready.

Carla Cowley, great great granddaughter of Molly O’Reilly, spoke first and then it was my turn. You can read the text of my speech below – it starts in Irish but the second half is in English.

Otherwise, just have a quick look at the black and white photo further down.  This photo has had a lot of airbrushing over the years. First of all, some newspaper editor got rid of Nurse O’Farrell’s skirts and boots, airbrushed out of history, to simplify the story, I suppose. But I have a different memory of this photo. I remember my father sending it away somewhere – to get it ‘fixed’ – not to get rid of O’Farrell but to emphasise the fact the Pearse was in full military uniform (as Commander-in-chief of the rebel forces).  He didn’t want people to think that Pearse was wearing a big winter overcoat.  Funny what one remembers – I was only six years old at the time…

Carla Cowley and Eoin Mac Lochlainn at the presentation in City Hall, last week. inset: Dona Cooney
Carla Cowley and myself at the presentation in City Hall last Friday.  Inset: Donna Cooney ( and yes, my painting of Patrick Pearse came in handy too 🙂 )

The text of my speech:

A dhaoine uaisle agus a chairde,  tá cúpla nóiméad agam inniu le h-impí oraibh gan Sráid Uí Mhórdha a scriosadh. Tá sé náireach, amach is amach, go bhfuil muid fiú ag caint faoi seo inniu.

Fuair go leor daoine bás ar an sráid seo – laochra, a sheas in aghaidh Impireacht na Breataine; Laochra, a throid ar son ár saoirse;  Laochra, mo mhuintir ina measc – ach i 1916, chaith muintir na cathrach seile orthu.  They spat on them.  Agus fós, 100 bhlian níos déanaí, tá roinnt daoine fós ag iarraidh seile a chaitheamh orthu.

Cén fáth? Sin í an cheist. Cén fáth go bhfuil drogall orainn comóradh ceart a dhéanamh ar na laochra seo? Na mná agus na fir ar sheas an fhóid agus a throid ar son a gcearta, agus cearta muintir na hÉireann ar fad. Cén fáth nach bhfuil muid lán de Bhróid? Cén fáth go bhfuil muidne, gaolta 1916, fós ag troid le go n-athnófar an fís a bhí acu, agus an misneach a bhí acu.

“I thank the goodness and the grace that on my birth has smiled, and made me in this Christian age, a happy English child”. A chairde Gael, this was the prayer on the first page of a reader that was used in every National School in Ireland, before 1916.

This was the ideology, the ideology that was rejected by the men and women of 1916. We had our own Gaelic culture, our own language, our customs and our history but this was not what the British Empire wanted to hear. Indeed, they were intent on suppressing it.

Patrick Pearse, accompanied by Elizabeth O'Farrell (partially hidden) surrender to General Lowe and his son after the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916
Patrick Pearse, accompanied by Elizabeth O’Farrell (partially obscured), surrenders to General Lowe and his son.

I’m not going to give you a lecture on history here but I will say this. That our language and our customs and our history is still under threat, right now in 2016.  But we have a chance here to take steps to protect it. I think that the Moore Street Battlefield plan has some great ideas in it and I congratulate all those who were involved with it.

And I’ll say one more thing. My father, Piaras Mac Lochlainn was on the Kilmainham Gaol Restoration committee in the sixties. That place was derelict when they decided to restore it. They were all voluntary workers. They decided to restore it, as someone said: “to honour our glorious dead”. And that jail is now one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country. And the government at the time wanted to demolish it!  Have we learned nothing?

A shopping centre is no different to shopping centres the world over.  But Moore Street is the heart of Dublin. Such a special place of culture and history and I’m asking you now: Don’t delete it from the pages of history.

Shame on anyone who would even consider destroying it.  Go raibh maith agaibh.

So now, it’s back to the studio for me…  really, I’d prefer to stay away from these political shenanigans, and simply to paint my penny apples.  But unfortunately,  we just can’t leave it up to the politicians and their cronies.  What do you think?

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

http://www.dublincity.ie/moore-street-battlefield-site-plan

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/