1 June 2023

Decade of Centenaries Arts Project Awards

In 2021 and 2022 Clare County Council commissioned a number of artists to commemorate the Decade of Centenaries

Funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Community Strand of the Decade of Centenaries Programme, the commissions aim to ensure that events are remembered at community level in a respectful, measured and non-partisan manner.

Clare Arts Office was delighted to support the artists to interpret local historical events by creating artistic work that provides a platform to encourage reflection and the consideration of issues, both past and present, which may be challenging, difficult and sometimes deeply personal. Visual art, music, theatre and film were all commissioned.

2022 Commissions were awarded to Marie Connole, David O’Rourke and Deirdre Scanlan.

Marie Connole – An Alchemy of War

In ‘An Alchemy of the Civil War’ Artist Marie Connole has created a series of intriguing watercolours to represent various incidents from around County Clare and Ireland. The influence of 16th century alchemical illustrations is the starting point for this highly original work.

Alchemists sought to transform certain materials through chemical experimentation. They believed base metals such as lead could be “perfected” into gold. Connole uses the experimental process of alchemy as a metaphor for understanding the Irish Civil War.

During the War of Independence many Irish men and women sought the Utopian ideal of an Independent Gaelic island nation. However their methods, actions and ideas for achieving this shared ideal were markedly different. The repercussions from the Civil War that followed persist to this day. Connole’s symbolic paintings blend trauma, history and emotion to reflect the profound sadness of this beautiful but fractured vision.

Listen to Marie speak about her work

David O’Rourke – Timeslip

The concept was to take archival images of County Clare from the time period 1919 -1923 and re-photograph them in their modern setting in order to contemporise the reality of war, occupation and civil war on a largely civilian population. The resulting images were to form part of the research for a series of five paintings containing references from present day and 100 years ago.

Research was carried out through the Clare County Council Archives, the National Archives and through groups like The Vintage Lens .  David was looking for images specific to County Clare. It became apparent to him that the photographs were either badly archived, or the place was so vague and hard to identify that it rendered many of them unusable. There were also a lot of stock photographs used in articles pertaining to County Clare eg images of the West Clare Brigade turned out to be photographed in County Limerick.  This was found out through research on Google maps and Google lens. Many articles also used stock photographs obviously located in Dublin looking at the cobbled street backgrounds .

The Paintings

The Black and Tan vehicle came from The Vintage Lens with the colour reference from die cast model of the era.

They were a number of images of the Burning of Ennistymon but the clarity of one was an issue and in another a  building that had been rebuilt had changed substantially (Dillon’s Shop)

The images of the Irish Free State forces were taken from screenshots of a Pathé video documenting the arrest of De Valera in Ennis.

Once the five images were chosen they were printed and mounted on card in order to better line up the present day images. See how David created the paintings. 

Secondary research was carried out on colourised images of the era in order to ascertain the uniforms of the Irish Free State forces and the vehicles. Through an article on British military vehicles it was unclear if the vehicles used by the Irish National Army of the free state were overpainted in the deeper green colour, or received in that livery from the Crown forces. David also used an app De oldify to get an approximation of the colours .

The series of 5 paintings juxtapose the banality of modern life with images of occupation and war. They hint at a transgenerationall trauma which is still in the Irish Psyche.

Listen to David explain his work

Deirdre Scanlan – Guardians of the Peace

The formation of An Garda Síochána on 22 February, 1922 was a key moment in the establishment and evolution of new political and administrative structures in the fledgling Irish Free State. Guardians of the Peace is a newly-written song and accompanying video celebrating 100 years of policing in County Clare. The song was written and arranged by well-known musician and composer Tim Collins, and  performed by acclaimed traditional singer, Deirdre Scanlan, herself a member of An Garda Síochána. Accompanying the song was a video collage of historic images relating to policing in County Clare, sourced through Inspector Adrian Queeney, member of the Divisional Garda Centenary Committee.

Recording engineers, and videographers, Martin and Sean O’Malley, oversaw the sound/video recording in Malbay Studios, Miltown Malbay, County Clare. Martin and Tim Collins provided the music accompaniment for the song.

Listen to Deirdre explain how the song has resonated with people.

With thanks to Neil Hynes of Hynesight Videos for video production