Music, sculpture

Canada and Ireland

Irish Famine Sculpture, Dublin Docks

Yes, well… emerald green dye is really not my thing, or all that razzmatazz, but on St. Patrick’s Day, I often think of the Irish people who now live in other countries around the world, especially those who were forced to emigrate from “that sore oppresséd island that they call the Shamrock Shore”.

Recently I was at a performance of “Marbhna 1916”, a new requiem composed by Odhrán Ó Casaide, to remember those who died in the Easter Rising.  Kevin Vickers, the Canadian ambassador attended and he told us that on the island of New Brunswick, where he comes from, that there is a Celtic cross in a graveyard and 247 Irish people buried there, people who came across from Ireland during the famine of the 1840s.

About one million people died in Ireland during that terrible famine, just 170 years ago, and another million fled the country on what were called the ‘coffin ships’. The bronze sculptures above (and details below) in Dublin’s Docklands are by Rowan Gillespie and are dedicated to those who were forced to emigrate. This location is a particularly apt as one of the first voyages of the Famine period was on the ‘Perserverance’ which sailed from Custom House Quay on St. Patrick’s Day, 1846.

Irish-Famine-sculpture, dublin docks

Irish Famine Sculpture, Dublin docks

A second series of famine sculptures by Rowan Gillespie was unveiled by President Mary McAleese on the quayside in Toronto in 2007, to remember the arrival of these refugees in Canada.  Canada was very good to us back then and these days they are opening their arms again to welcome in thousands of Syrian refugees.  I wonder when Europe is going to step up to the mark.

By the way, “Marbhna 1916” was being recorded by TnaG. You can listen to a clip at:

and it will be broadcast on Good Friday ( ). Also, you could listen back to Ambassador Vickers on the Marion Finucane show at:

Your comments welcome as always, thanks, eoin

art, Music

Christmas and the artist

the cardboard crib
the cardboard box crib

Everyone is so busy getting ready for Christmas at this stage but spare a thought for the Syrian refugees – with no place to stay.  My old friends will have heard this before but I thought that I’d share a previous post with you again, one that I wrote a few years ago…

They asked me to build a crib for the local church and I built it out of cardboard boxes.  My thinking was that if Mary and Joseph came to Dublin today and, if there was ‘no room at the inn’, they might end up trying to construct some sort of rudimentary shelter out of discarded cardboard boxes. It must’ve been desperately worrying for them, about to have a baby and no place to stay…

But in my case, since the crib figures were stored in cardboard boxes, I simply stacked up the boxes and stretched a roll of corrugated cardboard over the top to make a roof.  I added old newspapers for insulation (these happened to be from the property pages of the Irish Times, hee hee). But once I added the straw, it definitely looked like a crib.  Nice.

Well no, not nice. The flower arrangers weren’t happy. The church cleaners weren’t happy. The church gardener wasn’t happy, and goodness knows who else wasn’t happy. Now of course, not everyone complained – but would you believe that some people started a petition to have it removed from the church! Why weren’t these ones happy? I reckon it was the ivy, or should I say: the lack of ivy.  A traditional crib has ivy, lots of ivy, running up and down the walls, draping over the roof, all around where the shepherds stand (or so they tell me). But I dunno, I would say that it’s the straw that makes the crib. Once I put the straw there, it just felt like a crib. I got this big bag of straw from a farm in South Kilkenny. It smelt lovely.  Do you think it needs ivy?

PS: I suppose this crib came about because I’ve been making art on the theme of Homelessness during the last few years. You can see more of that art at:

But now, here’s a treat for you –  an old Irish carol, performed by Altan in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin… please click into the blog to hear it, – and don’t forget to leave a comment!


art, Gaeltacht, Music

Just add music, it makes all the difference

Well, you just have to listen to Davy Spillane’s music.  Here’s a short video that I created of my recent solo exhibition in Áras Éanna on Inishere , the smallest of the Aran Islands. I used a wonderfully evocative piece of music called: Dreaming of the Bones by Spillane as the soundtrack. Not many people know this but I was in school with him, many, many centuries ago.

if you can’t see the video above please click  here

A poem by Cathal Ó Searcaigh entitled: “Na Bailte Bánaithe” was the inspiration for this body of work, a poem about how spirits haunt the land, long after the people who lived there have gone. I spent some time in the Donegal Gaeltacht a few years ago, exploring the old abandoned houses that were mentioned in the poem. And I began a series of paintings of empty fireplaces, a yearning perhaps, to make contact with those long gone from the place. There are two rooms and two series of paintings in this exhibition. The second series is of empty skies – symbolising the possibilities and promise of a new life.

Mar a dúirt mé, b’é dán leis an bhfile Cathal Ó Searcaigh a bhí mar spreagadh don saothar ealaíne seo, dán dár teideal: “Na Bailte Bánaithe”. Dán í seo a léiríonn cé mar a mhaireann spiorad daoine i gcuimhne áite fiú má tá said imithe ar shlí na fírinne. Chaith mé tréimhse cónaithe i nGaeltacht Thír Chonaill cúpla bliain ó shin agus thosnaigh mé ag cuartú na seantithe tréigthe a bhí luaite sa dán, ag iarraidh sórt eicint teagmháil a dhéanamh leo b’fhéidir, leo siúd  – i mbéal an uaignis – mar a deir an dán. Is machnamh ar an imirce is mó a bhí i gceist agam, ceapaim.

Anyway, that exhibition continues until the end of June so, if you happen to be on the West Coast, why not take a trip out to the island for a look. A boat leaves Ros a’ Mhíl every morning at 10.30am and returns at about 5.45 in the afternoon. There’s a also boats going from Doolin every day.  Finally, don’t forget to send me your comments, I’m always interested in hearing your views.








art videos, artists, Music

Creative Streaks

still from video by Kevin McGloughlin

Does the creative streak run in families? I reckon it does. I know I’ve a brother who was great for drawing cartoons and another into architecture, and a couple more who were really good at bird illustrations… but it also goes from generation to generation.

My Dad was good at art, and my grandfather too, but I’m just back home from Sligo so, today, I want to mention the next generation, my Sligo nephews, and in particular, Kevin McGloughlin.

The image above is a still from one of his videos. He creates really elaborate videos using animation, photoshop and goodness knows what. This one is called “Devils” by Idiot Songs. His brother Pearse wrote the songs in collaboration with Justin Grounds. (I’ll tell you about them another day) But have a listen to this now at:

and make sure to leave a comment if you like it. ( you will 🙂 )

Also, more info at: