Historic, Irish art

They don’t make them like they used to

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of a range of Irish stamps

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.

Watercolour drawing of the Tara Brooch by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

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





art exhibitions, watercolour

Sketching on the Island of Adventure

water colour painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Ireland's Eye, Howth, Co.Dublin

Well, that was the best idea I had for a long time! Last weekend Fionnuala and I went out to Ireland’s Eye, a wild and wonderful island, just north of Howth Head in Co. Dublin.

I hadn’t been there since I was a boy and, to tell you the truth, I was a bit afraid that I’d be disappointed, that the cliffs wouldn’t be high, that the strand wouldn’t be long, that the seabirds would all be gone, but no – it was just as I remembered – it was just like our ‘island of adventure’.

My Dad had a recitation all about it. We all knew most of the lines by heart. It was about a young couple who rowed out to the island for the day… Happy memories.

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Gannets on Ireland's Eye

Cormorants on Ireland's Eye. Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Herring Gull on Ireland's Eye. Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

We had our sandwiches watching the Gannets wheeling around the sea stack. What a place to build your home! It’s nesting season at the moment so the seagulls are fiercely protecting their nests. (Yes, we were very careful.) We saw Cormorants feeding their young in the strange way that they do (see above). The chick actually sticks its head down the parent’s throat!

It was wonderful to sit there on the island and watch the ever-moving, turquoise sea. I did some sketching, something I haven’t done in a while.

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Fionnuala Rockett on Ireland's Eye

Photo of Eoin Mac Lochlainn in ruined Church on Ireland's Eye

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Martello Tower on Ireland's Eye

Evening came. I stood up. “I suppose we’d better be heading back to Howth”, says I. “Howth be jiggers”, said Fionnuala, “let’s go on to Lambay!”

PS:  Speaking of sketching, there’s a great exhibition entitled: There’s a touch of the artist about old Bloom on at the Olivier Cornet Gallery this week. It’s a visual response to James Joyce’s Ulysses – sketching on location in the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter. Curated by Olivier Cornet, Jessica Peel-Yates and Marie-Hélène Brohan Delhaye, it’s the result of a four-day sketching event exploring the fabric of Joyce’s Dublin.






art exhibitions, Poetry

Have you heard about Crazy Jane?

Last night I slept on the mountain - a small oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn for the Crazy Jane exhibition in the Hamilton Gallery , Sligo

As part of the annual Yeats Day celebrations this year, the Hamilton Gallery in Sligo have organised an exhibition of small works by over 90 contemporary artists who based their artworks on Crazy Jane, that strange character that appears in a couple of poems by William Butler Yeats.

This is the third and final iteration of the gallery’s Annual Invited Artists’ exhibition and it was opened on Tuesday by Professor Seán Golden.

My contribution is seen above, entitled: “Last night I lay on the mountain…”  Oh, sometimes I just feel like going up to the mountains and staying there until it’s all sorted out…  But, as I say, there are all sorts of good works in the show this year, as you can see from Emma Stroude’s photograph below (thanks for posting Emma).

installation shot by Emma Stroude

By the way,  have you checked out the Concerning the Other facebook page recently?  It’s really interesting to see how ten contemporary artists are responding to all the changes that are going on around us these days.





And of course, your comments are always welcome here – poetic or otherwise!

Concerning the Other, Gaeilge

An Chuid eile / Concerning the Other

collaborative image by Eoin Mac Lochlainn and Concerning the Other artists

Gentleness, Solidarity, Diversity  – scroll down to read the English.

Ba mhaith liom a rá leat faoi thogra ealaíne atá á eagrú agam le Olivier Cornet agus Claire Halpin.  “An Chuid eile / Concerning the Other” an teideal a chuir muid air agus tháinig an smaoineamh chugainn mar go bhfuil an méad sin drochnuachta le cloisteáil na laethanta seo – idir an chiníochas, an easaontas agus an éadulaingt – mheas muid gur bhfiú dúinn rud eicint dearfa a dhéanamh le muintearas a chothú sa phobail.

Sa togra seo, tá deichniúr ealaíontóirí chomhaimseartha ag comhoibriú le chéile ar 10 phíosaí ealaíne éagsúla ionas go mbeidh 100 saothar ealaíne againn ag deireadh. Thosaigh gach ealaíontóir ar phíosa amháin agus sheol sé nó sí é ar aghaidh go dtí an dara ealaíontóir. D’oibrigh an dara ealaíontóir air ansin agus sheol sé nó sí é sin ar aghaidh go dtí an 3ú ealaíontóir agus mar sin de… Ag deireadh beidh gach duine tar éis oibriú ar ghach phíosa ealaíne.

Cén fáth? Bhuel, bíonn sé deacair uaireanta, comhoibriú le daoine eile ach – nach fiú go mór é?  ‘Siad na h-ealaíontóirí atá i gceist ná: Brian Fay, Claire Halpin, James Hanley, Joanna Kidney, Miriam McConnon, Kate Murphy, Ben Readman, Gail Ritchie, Susanne Wawra agus mise.

print by Eoin Mac Lochlainn with Concerning the Other artists

Beidh taispeántas againn i mí Meán Fómhair i nGailearaí Olivier Cornet i mBleá Cliath agus beidh roinnt costaisí ag baint leis agus mar sin tá muid tar éis feachtas “Fundit” a chur ar bun le cabhair a lorg. Bheimis an-bhuíoch díot dá bhféadfá tacaíocht ar bith a thabhairt dúinn. Má éiríonn linn níos mó ná an sprioc-iomlán a shroisint, úsáidfidh muid an t-airgead breise le catalóg a fhoilsiú.

Tá gach eolas le fáil ag:   https://fundit.ie/project/concerning-the-other

Agus tá leathnach speisialta againn ag:  https://www.facebook.com/ConcerningtheOther/

Tá mé tar éis cúpla sampla den saothar ealaíne atá ag eascairt ón togra seo a thaispeáint anseo ach beidh go leor eile ag teacht de réir a chéile.

Slán go fóill agus go raibh míle maith agat!

Collaborative image from Concerning the Other project by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Showing Solidarity…

We seem to have struck a cord with the theme of this project – Concerning the Other. It is clear that a lot of people are not comfortable with the rising tide of racism and intolerance that seems to be sweeping across the world.

People want to show concern for minorities and to show solidarity – rather than add to the frenzy of hatred. Thanks to the wonderful generosity of our initial Funders we have reached our first target and the cost of printing out the virtual artworks has been pledged.  We are delighted and very grateful to all of you.

In the meantime, we have been working on the plan to tour the exhibition of collaborative prints – both nationally and internationally – and we hope to be in a position to publish details shortly.

Any additional funding will be used to further these plans so – we are still gratefully accepting pledges.  This is primarily to cover the cost of transporting the works and also to fund the production of a good quality catalogue.

There’s more information at:   https://fundit.ie/project/concerning-the-other

We would love to hear from you. You can visit our on the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/ConcerningtheOther/



And of course, your comments are always welcome here!

Culture, Historic

Whose side are you on – the people’s – or the moguls’

1916 re enactment from 1916 - the Last Stand film

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?

Pearse's surrender note from the film, 1916 The Last Stand

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.


Proposed-Moore-Street-Shopping mall
Just four houses would remain, dwarfed by the new Shopping Mall

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…

"They're Destroyers - not Developers", Moore Street campaigner Diarmuid
“They’re Destroyers – not Developers”  – Moore Street campaigner Diarmuid Breathnach

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 easterrisingstories@gmail.com or check out the links below.

PS: Oh, and by the way, I have a cameo role in this movie!

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Marcus Howard, director of 1916 - the Last Stand
Marcus Howard, director of “1916 – the Last Stand”   (photo: Eoin Mac Lochlainn)





Nature, photography

An idea that could spread and spread…

photo of Forget-me-nots by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

My brother told me once that if I planted Forget-me-nots in the garden, I’d never see the end of them and you know, he was right.  They spread.  They pop up everywhere.  (It’s wonderful).  They came from my mother’s garden and they always remind me of her. (She passed away 21 years ago next Monday)

But I was over in Glasnevin Cemetery where my parents are buried and I had an idea.  That graveyard is so cold, windswept and stony that nothing grows there – nothing that is – except maybe for Forget-me-nots?

So I had an idea for a new art installation. A secret “time-based” piece, what you might call: “Guerrilla art” and this was it:

For the sake of all those lonely, un-tended graves where no one visits, what if I were to plant Forget-me-nots – firstly on my parents’ grave – but then the following year, the seeds would’ve blown around and established themselves in nearby graves and then, as the years passed, they would spread further and further until every year, for the month of May, the whole graveyard would be covered in a carpet of tiny skyblue flowers, and the poor lonely souls need never feel neglected again.

photo of Forget-me-nots by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Well, that was my idea – and I tried it once but no, even the Forget-me-nots couldn’t eke out a living in that barren place.  So that was that, or so I thought, and the years passed and even plastic flowers wouldn’t stay put where they’d been put.

But then, one day I went to check on a flowerpot I’d brought over from our garden, a pot which had contained some healthy Campanula flowers.

Photo of Campanula by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Now Campanula, as you probably know, is the type of flower that would grow out of cracks in the wall if you let them (see above) but no, even they had withered and died in this arid desert of a place.

But wait!  The pot was still there; the dead Campanulas were still dead but now, there were some Forget-me-nots blooming in the pot instead!

So now, don’t tell anyone! This is just the start. Maybe, just maybe we have a new project – happening all by itself this time. Maybe Mother Nature liked my idea and decided to take it on, herself!  What do you think?

Gentians on Inismaan

An focal scoir:  Deartháir eile liom a thóg an pictiúr seo thús. Dúirt sé gur Ceadharlach Bealtaine an t-ainm oifigiúil ar na bláthanna gorma seo (na Gentians) ach go dtugtar Pabhsaeir na Maighdine orthu ar Inis Meáin. (Ach dúirt sé freisin go dtugtar Pabhsaeir na Maighdine ar aon bhláth ghorm ar Inis Meáin). ‘Sé Lus míonla an t-ainm oifigiúil ar na Forget-me-nots ach is maith liomsa Cuimhní na Maighdine a thabhairt orthu. Céard é do mheas?

Isn’t there just something extra special about blue flowers?





Concerning the Other, Curating

Would you like to join the Inner Circle?

Dear Reader, I haven’t done this before but – could I possibly ask you for a favour? Can you help me please with an art project entitled: “Concerning the Other”

(Before I go any further, I’d just like to thank some wonderful people who, straight away, lent us their support as soon as we put out the call.  It is really heartening to see such generosity of spirit. You know who ye are, folks… extra special people, thank you again!)

“Concerning the Other” is a project in which ten artists are working together to produce one hundred pieces of art. Each of us has produced a first image which we will soon be emailing on to the next artist in the group. He or she will work over it and then email it on to the next artist – until all ten artists have worked on all ten pieces.

“Words cannot…” by Eoin Mac Lochlainn – 80 x 90cm, oil on canvas, 2008
“Words cannot…” by Eoin Mac Lochlainn – 80 x 90cm, oil on canvas, 2008

Why would we do this? Well, we were thinking that in these times of mounting racism and intolerance, artists can take a lead in promoting diversity and solidarity – by showing concern for minorities instead of adding to the frenzy of hate.

So we’ll be going over each other’s work. I reckon that’ll be a challenge in itself. We’d better be sure to take the others into account… but of course, that’s what it’s all about.

And where do you come in? Well, if you could sponsor us, we’d really appreciate it. We’ll be printing out the final pieces for an exhibition in September and that’s the main cost of the project. If you could give us €10, that would be brilliant (but of course, you can give more if you wish)

Painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn entitled "Home", 66 x 86cm oil on canvas, 2011
Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness – ‘Home’ by Eoin Mac Lochlainn – 66 x 86cm, oil on canvas, 2011

This is a “crowd funding” project. It’s being facilitated by Fund it, at https://fundit.ie/project/activity/concerning-the-other

It’s all about people “pledging” money to fund the project. Only if the goal of €1500 in pledges is reached will anyone be paying out. But when you pledge money, there are various “rewards” that you will receive.

You’ll get to see the ‘behind the scenes’ story of how the works of art are developing each week. There’ll be a special Private View for Funders before the official launch of the exhibition. Special discounts too, depending on how much you pledge…

You can read all about it on our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ConcerningtheOther/

So that’s my story. I’m one of the curators of this project. Olivier Cornet and Claire Halpin are the other two. It’d be lovely if you could join us in the “inner circle” of the project. Please, please click on the Fund it link below and register today. You can do it anonymously if you wish – but maybe, you might let me know if you do?  And can I say in advance:  thanks a million!