Ulysses Cylinders


Molly cylinder

Look carefully now, because it’s just about the closest you’re going to get to seeing a naked lady in this blog. She’s a little out of focus and lolling around a glass cylinder, which isn’t perhaps, the best place to disport herself. But that would be the kind of carry on you’d expect from Molly Bloom.

Ulysses Exhibition 039

Another out of focus shot-but just to give you an idea of the coach house gallery

I found her in Dublin Castle`s  Coach House last Sunday, lolling about at the Ulysses Cylinders exhibition.

I knew nothing about Dale Chihuly or Sever Leslie. Though I had heard of Ulysses. I am in the Read the First Chapter of Ulysses Club so I have a vague notion of it’s involving a day long odyssey on June 16th 1904. It is delivered in episodes, rather than chapters and features Molly Bloom, her husband Leopold, Stephen Dedalus and an assortment of Dublin characters.

Leslie painted watercolours based on each episode. Chihuly had artists Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick create glass drawings based on the Leslie sketches. And then he set to work with his glassblowing team to create each cylinder.

The exhibition takes place is the repurposed coach house of Dublin Castle. They are beautiful rooms with the alcoves providing the perfect spaces for Leslie’s artwork and display cabinets showing off each piece of coloured glass in gleaming perfection.

Unfortunately, this exhibition wraps up next Sunday, 23rd of August. It is well worth the trip there is you happen to be in town, but also well worth diverting to. The Chester Beatty Library is nearby too and, with the spacious surrounds of Dublin Castle and the excellent Silk Road café nearby it would be a delightful place to meet friends or family.

Or, indeed, Molly Bloom herself.

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184th Exhibition Royal Hibernian Academy


RHA, Ely Place, Dublin


Here’s another gem in our capital city.

The Royal Hibernian Academy was established in 1821. The architect Francis Johnson presented it with a house and exhibition gallery in Lower Abbey Street. But that was destroyed, along with the entire annual exhibition of that year, in the Easter Rising 1916.

Ely Place has been it’s home since 1939, with the current building having been opened in 1985.

If you’re at a loose end, hanging around Grafton Street and you get tired of the shops and the buskers and the crowds, nip along to the peace of the RHA.  It will only take you ten minutes on foot and you are very sure to see something of interest. Admission is free, though, of course a donation is always appreciated.

Right now, the gallery has been taken over by it’s 184th Annual Exhibition. Artists from all over the country have submitted work and what particularly pleased me is the fact that I’d already spotted a couple of these artists in the last year or so.

In Long Evening Shadow Marie Louise Martin

In Long Evening Shadow by Marie Louise Martin

This is In Long Evening’s Shadow by Marie-Louise Martin.  I was very taken by her work at an exhibition in Drogheda last year. She had lots of drawings, similar to this one, all presented in an unframed state along one wall and really, being a stark reminder of just how versatile graphite is.  I love that a simple little pencil can produce all of this. And, of course, some incredible skill and talent from the artist herself.

Martin Gale In the territory

In the Territory by Martin Gale

I mentioned Martin Gale in my recent forays around the Hunt Museum. This is “In the Territory”. I love his distinctive style, the typically Irish scene and the tilted head of the dog has he awaits the next move of his master.

Amelia Stein Cottage with three windows

Cottage With Three Windows by Amelia Stein

There is something very Craggy Island about this photograph from Amelia Stein.  It is the manner of a lot of our buildings in the west that they somehow have the look of being dumped on the landscape without any thought for blending with it. And yet, for all that, in their bleakness, they echo the barren hillside and grey skies.

Mick O Dea The White Gable

The White Gable by Mick O`Dea

Another bleak landscape. If you are reared on a diet of Paul Henry paintings and John Hinde postcards, it might be a shock to discover that it rains a lot along Ireland’s western seaboard. Well, this Mick O’Dea painting doesn’t shirk from our damp climate. But it also conveys the beauty of that grey sky when contrasted with the shock of white gable,

George Potter PArk Lane Dun Laoghaire

Park Lane Dun Laoghaire by George Potter

Sandymount Tower George Potter


And we’re back to the east coast of Ireland again with these two paintings from George Potter. I love the surreal style of his Park Lane Dun Laoghaire. And, since I have a thing for Martello Towers I picked out this one showing Joyce’s Tower in Sandymount.

Caroline Ward Pea Soup

Pea Soup by Caroline Ward

We’re not nearly done. The 184th exhibition sprawls all around the many and vast walls of the RHA in all sorts of styles and genres.  It ends on August 9th.

The gallery itself is open seven days a week with a late night opening on Wednesday til 8pm. So, if you fancy a ramble away from the madness of shops and traffic, this is a vast paradise of viewing pleasure.








The Artist’s Eye at the Hunt Museum

Hunt Museum

I arrived at the Hunt Museum to screams, caterwauling and sound of many hooves. No, the place wasn’t haunted. Though, given Limerick’s grisly history, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

Exchanging glances with a woman in the ticket queue, she quickly confirmed my worst suspicions. Casting her eyes swiftly heavenward, and leaning my way and she confided

“It’s a school tour. The kids sure are noisy. And guess what? They’re teachers are even worse”

I had visions of myself rounding up the little horrors in a giant lasso, throwing them in a bag and dumping them in the Shannon. But my luck was in. Seems they were heading off on their merry way, just at the sight of me.

I have that effect on people. It generally works to my advantage.

With that, the fine old Georgian building ceased vibrating and returned to its quietly contemplative self.

Originally Limerick’s Custom House, the Hunt Museum is set close to the city centre on the banks of the Shannon. With the Hunts bequest in archaeological, art and antiquarian objects, it holds a vast collection. But I was mainly here to see the art on view.

Downstairs, an entire room is devoted to the current exhibition, The Artist’s Eye. For this, artist Donald Teskey had to choose from Allied Irish Bank’s art collection. The bank had to donate their collection to the State and to exhibitions as reparation for all their financial sins and, as we the people were the sinned against, I think it’s important that we clap eyes on what we’re paying through the noses for.

The exhibition is a real who’s who of Irish art during our crazy Celtic Tiger years. Bankability rules over artistic merit. Not that there aren’t great pieces there. But the names Dorothy Cross, Seán Scully, John Shinnors,Janet Mullarney, Jackie Nickerson, Diane Copperwhite are among the best known of our contemporary Irish artists from the 1980s and 90s.

There is a perfect mix of paintings in this exhibition, but,as it turned out, the ones I favoured were from artists that I was not as familiar with.

Martin Gale’s “There Will Always be Sundays” was a particular delight, with it’s colourful rug, set amid patchwork Irish fields. And all the more so, because it was painted in 1980. Though it seems aeons away, there is something comforting in the fact that we still can claim respite on Sundays and in the self same fields.

Shane Blount “The Blue Giraffe”, which you can see here on his blog, deals with the difficulties of leaving childhood behind. Or so it seemed to me. Either way, the expression that he captures on that kid’s face is just wonderful.

Seán Scully’s “Wall of Light” on the other hand, left me cold. Yes, there’s a whole room devoted to him in the Hugh Lane Gallery of Modern Art. And an excellent example of his work here.. Really, I fail to see how time and talent are shown in that painting. I’m told that Scully likes to ‘interrogate stripe’. Really? Well, I wish he would leave stripe alone.

But yes, when it comes to art, it’s all good, it seems, if it leaves us feeling a little contrary.

Not so, kids. I ambled a little further around the Hunt Museum then before taking my leave and trotting off towards King John’s Castle. Bastion of Limerick and guardian of her fortunes for centuries, I could barely contain my excitement at getting there.

I soon got over it.

The second I set foot in the place there were screams and caterwauling, and shouts of “Hey, Cormac, c’mon. Up here”

But, at least this time, I had my lasso…

Juneathon Update: Wednesday-Five Mile Run
Thursday:-1 mile
Friday: 9.58 mile on the bike
Juneathon Total:78.82 miles

For more information on the Hunt Museum, check out these links:
History of the Hunt Museum
Hunt Museum cleared of Nazi Allegations

Fountain of the Four Rivers, Piazza Navona

The trouble with Rome is that there is just too darned much to see.

Everywhere you turn there`s some building, or detail or piazza begging for your attention.

Take the Piazza Navona. We only chanced upon there on our way to the Pantheon. There was something strikingly beautiful and different about it all.

In need of refreshment, we stopped off at this delightful ristorante on the Piazza itself.
Piazza Navona Restaurant

That gave me time to swot up on Piazza Navona on my little guidebook. Oh my! The place was chock full of treasures. I practically stumbled out onto the cobblestones blinded by the light of it all.

To my right was Bernini`s Fountain of the Four Rivers. He designed it in 1651 for Pope Innocent, to show the spread of papal rule in four continents.

Fountain of the Four Rivers

So, four mighty rivers:the Ganges, the Nile, the Danube and the Plate are depicted in this monument.  Isn’t it astonishing to see such beauty hewn out of a big lump of rock?

Detail Monument in San Navarre Sq

I love the way the fountain waters are fed through the monument.

Detail Monument in San Navarre Sq 2

Detail 4 monument in san navarre sq

Detail 3 Monument in San Navarre

Getting even closer, brings greater rewards. Look at the detail on this foot, for instance.

Foot detail on the Fountain of the Four Rivers

Foot detail on the Fountain of the Four Rivers

That`s just one monument.

There were two other fountains either end of the piazza but I didn’t even get near them. There are two churches too and two palaces but I barely gave them a passing glance.

No, there were other sights earmarked on my Rome guidebook. Places to go, things to see and distractions to fight along the way.

And only a day and a bit to do it all.

Plainly, tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain would be a very necessary step.

Should our energy flag and time run out, we would have to come back to see more.