Okay, the bad news was that the post office put up the price of stamps again so that my stash of Christmas 72c stamps was now insufficient – but the good news is that the new 28c stamps feature ancient treasures from the collection of the National Museum of Ireland.
If you ever get the chance, make sure you visit this museum in Kildare Street, Dublin. It’s hard to believe the skill of those early Irish craftsmen (or craftswomen).
For instance, there’s the Tara Brooch (see my sketch below), named after the Hill of Tara, seat of the High Kings of Ireland, although there doesn’t seem to be any connection to either the hill or the High Kings – it was apparently discovered on a beach at Bettystown, County Meath by ‘a peasant woman’.
It was first displayed at The Great Exhibition in London in 1851 and then at the Paris Exposition Universelle. In 1872, it was added to the collection of the Royal Irish Academy, which later transferred it to the National Museum of Ireland where it remains today.
The National Museum notes that it is made of cast and gilt silver and is elaborately decorated on both faces. The front is ornamented with a series of unbelievably fine gold filigree panels depicting animal and abstract motifs, separated by studs of glass, enamel, and amber. The motifs on the back consist of scrolls and spirals and recall the La Tène decoration of the Iron Age.
As for the ‘peasant woman’, there’s all sorts of theories about who she was and where she actually found it but all she would say was something like –
Och! but I’m weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there’s never a house nor a bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!
Only joking. Actually that was from a poem entitled An Old Woman of the Roads, by Pádraic Colum. My brother and his wife are making a film about this poem at the moment and I’m really looking forward to seeing it.
Slán go fóillín. Your comments are always welcome, thanks, eoin
Well, unusually for me – I was at a film première last week – the première of the Marcus Howard film: 1916 – The Last Stand. It was screened at Liberty Hall, once the headquarters of the Irish Citizen Army and a focal point for radical politics in the years leading up to the Easter Rising of 1916.
For the last few years, Howard has been filming the stories of relatives of the men and women who took part in the Easter Rising but he found that, again and again, the story of Moore Street kept getting mentioned.
It was upstairs in a house in Moore Street that the leaders of the Rising held their last stand and where they decided to surrender “in order to prevent the further slaughter of the civilian population…” (see Pearse’s note below) This house still exists as does several of the original buildings where the 300 volunteers spent their last days of freedom but – would you believe that this historic street and its associated backlanes could soon be obliterated to make way for one vast SHOPPING MALL?
Yes, there was a court case taken to stop the “development” and the High Court judge found in favour of saving Moore Street. He recommended that the entire area of the last battle be preserved as a National Monument. That was great news – except the Government Minister assigned to protect our heritage is appealing this judgement.
It would seem that she would prefer to keep the property moguls happy rather than preserve the scene for future generations.
After the film, there was a question and answer session and Marcus talked about how the films came about. “The reason I do it”, he said, “is because I want to create an online library so that future generations won’t be left saying: I wish I’d asked more questions…
But with Moore Street, you can walk the lanes where the rebels fell, you can visualise what it must’ve been like. So the campaign to save Moore Street has taken on a special significance because it clearly exposes whose side you’re on. Are you enthralled by big business or do you believe that there are more important lessons to pass on to our children – ideas about equality, the common good, standing up for what is right…
1916 – The Last Stand documents the campaign from the beginning and tells the inspiring story of the personalities who kept going against all the odds to ensure that Moore Street will remain forever at the heart of Dublin and, more importantly, to keep alive the memory of all those who sacrificed so much to establish a republic that would “cherish all the children of the nation equally”.
All the images above are from the film. There will be more screenings soon at various locations around the country but If you would like to order the film, you can contact Marcus at email@example.com or check out the links below.
PS: Oh, and by the way, I have a cameo role in this movie!
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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 hereand 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 )
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.
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:
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).
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.
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 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.
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
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 entitled: Ar 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.
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.
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…
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.