Art & politics in Ireland
Interpreting the Norman intervention in Ireland
An Irish chieftain, MacSweeney, feasting out of doors - a typical ‘booley’ setting. Here the chieftain is on a
hunting expedition eating out of doors with no knives or forks. The scene is rather chaotic, with entertainments,
cooking and butchering going on at the same time. Two individuals are also warming their backsides against the cold!
Protestant propaganda & the 1614 rising
Sir John Temple's illustrated History of the Irish Rebellion was perhaps the most lurid of the sensationalist works
of propaganda produced in the aftermath of the rising. The allegation that the rising was a premeditated plot to
exterminate the Protestant population, and the wild exaggeration of the numbers killed, helped legitimize the
sequestration of Catholic land in the Adventurers’ Act and Cromwellian land settlement. Study unit
Eviction & emigration
The main painting from the late 19th century (Evicted by Lady Butler, 1890, University College, Dublin) hows how
Irish art had changed since the Famine years.
Evicted constitutes a new direction in Irish rural art. Portraying the after-effects of the destruction of the peasant
woman's cabin, the beauty of the landscape (the Wicklow hills) complements the plight of the inhabitants.
'She too is a victim of historic exploitation, with no rights over the land she inhabits.'
Perhaps the most striking of the Art of 1916 is the Easter Lily by Nigel Rolfe, 1994, in the centre of the collage.
The image of the lily, a symbol of the Rising with its connotations of death and resurrection, had been appropriated
by Sinn Fein and sold in flag form to raise funds. Rolfe's time exposure sets out to reappropriate the image both
historically and culturally. Photographed over six hours on Easter Friday 1994, the changing light sweeping over
the white lily creates its own colour effects. For Rolfe the flower, no longer a pure white, symbolises a sense of
spiritual loss; the concept of freedom, at the heart of the Easter.
For a commentary on the art and 1916, see 'The Easter Rising 1916. Constructing a canon in art & artefacts' by Sighle Bhreathnach-Lynch,
History Ireland, Spring 1997, pp 37-42.
'The troubles' - further details
Rita Duffy,The Marley Funeral,1989,
charcoal on paper
At the funeral of IRA member Lawrence Marley, the RUC saturated
the area and refused to allow the remains to leave the Marley home until the Irish tricolour was removed from the coffin.