Ealaín (Art)

Atmo-Craft, Colin Wilson

An Atmo-craft from the Rogue Trooper story Marauders drawn by Colin Wilson

An Atmo-craft from the Rogue Trooper story Marauders drawn by Colin Wilson (Íomhá: © 2002 Rebellion A/S)

During a quick discussion over on CLR in relation to Joss Whedon’s short-lived Sci-Fi series “Firefly” I was reminded of the New Zealand comics’ artist Colin Wilson and the incredibly realistic hardware illustrations he produced in the early 1980s for “Rogue Trooper”, 2000AD’s future war series. Some of the best – and most convincing – designs in futuristic weapons and machines I’ve ever seen came from Wilson’s accomplished hands, hardly surprising given that many were clearly based on contemporary military products. From the Mil Mi-24 Hind, the famous Soviet-era attack helicopter, to the lesser-known Centurion main battle tank Wilson took real world inspirations and extrapolated their future equivalents in technically exquisite detail. One was left thinking that if such machines did not exist in the present they most certainly would do so at some stage in the future. After my first exposure to Wilson’s carefully engineered designs I spent much of my teenage years copying his style and still do so whenever I turn to Science-Fiction themed art. In a long and extremely varied career the New Zealander went on to contribute to the Star Wars franchise beginning in 2007 with artwork for the comic book series “Star Wars: Legacy”. However his influence is in evidence well before that through the likes of the “Low Altitude Assault Transport/infantry (LAAT/i)”, a CGI military aircraft that features in the 2002 movie “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and which bears an uncanny resemblance to the hardware designs produced by Wilson for the Rogue Trooper story “Marauders” way back in 1982.

A Low Altitude Assault Transport or Republic Gunship from the Star Wars movie franchise

A Low Altitude Assault Transport or Republic Gunship from the Star Wars movie franchise (Íomhá: © 2002 Lucasfilm Ltd)

A Low Altitude Assault Transport or Republic Gunship from the Star Wars universe

A Low Altitude Assault Transport or Republic Gunship from the Star Wars universe (Íomhá: © 2002 Lucasfilm Ltd)

 

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The Forge In The Forest, Ian Miller

Wraparound cover illustration for Michael Scott Rohan’s Ice Age-set Fantasy novel “The Forge in the Forest””, drawn by Ian Miller

Wraparound cover illustration for Michael Scott Rohan’s Ice Age-set Fantasy novel “The Forge in the Forest””, drawn by Ian Miller (Íomhá: © 1987 Ian Miller)

Ian Miller is a British artist whose distinctive, sometimes surreal style will be familiar to many readers of Fantasy and fantasy-tinged Science-fiction even if his name is not so much. Since the late 1970s his exquisite illustrations, executed most frequently in pen and ink, have graced the covers of countless publications, notably the Fighting Fantasy and Warhammer range of books and magazines from the Games Workshop. Perhaps my favourite examples of his work come from “The Winter of the World”, a trilogy of quasi-historical Fantasy books by the Scottish author Michael Scott Rohan set – unexpectedly - on the North American continent during the last Ice Age. In general I disdain the endless catalogue of High Fantasy tales published over the last four decades, a conveyor belt of faux Mediaevalism inspired by the commercial successes of the “Hobbit” and the “Lord of the Rings” in the United States. Most are pale imitations of J.R.R. Tolkien or outright rip-offs (did anyone mention the “Sword of Shannara”?). All those Eddings and Jordans are as near to literary dross as it is possible to imagine, though thankfully there has been some light at the end of the tunnel in recent years with the emergence of writers like China Miéville and the popularity of urban-tinged fantasies (I haven’t read George R.R. Martin so I’ll reserve my judgement on his works. I will venture to say that they sound – the much heralded sex and gore to one side - distinctly traditional in both tone and setting).

However I was always impressed by Scott Rohan’s little series, despite its limitations and adherence to overly familiar formulae (the young hero unknowingly destined to greatness). Somehow his deft writing and commitment to an appealingly innovative pseudo-historic setting gave his publications a power that many other would-be fantasists would do well to take note of. I still have the books I first purchased in the late 1980s and In terms of literary merit I would place them well above many of their contemporaries, even those now regarded as “classics” of the genre. Unfortunately Michael Scott Rohan seems to have abandoned writing which is a great shame. By all accounts he was growing as a writer and one of his last works, the personally meaningful “Lord of Middle Air”, is particularly well-regarded.

However to return to Ian Miller, featured above is his 1987 cover for Scott Rohan’s “The Forge in the Forest”. It is perhaps not the best of his creative output but it is certainly one of my personal favourites. Appropriately a new collection of his artworks is now available, The Art of Ian Miller, and there is a glowing review by the Verge, as well as a typically idiotic LOL-speak overview from io9 (look at us! We’re cool! Really! Honestly we are! We’re happening! We’z bitchin’. We have lots of click-bait photos so please, please don’t stop visiting our website… Please…). Enjoy.

Sladmhargadh, Karl Uhlemann

Sladmhargadh by Donach de Róiste and illustrated by Karl Uhlemann (Íomhá: Foilseacháin Náisiúnta Teoranta, BÁC, 1968 / Hitone, Vintage Irish Book Covers)

Sladmhargadh by Donach de Róiste and illustrated by Karl Uhlemann (Íomhá: Foilseacháin Náisiúnta Teoranta, BÁC, 1968 / Hitone, Vintage Irish Book Covers)

I’ve written before about my love of vintage book covers, especially those to be found in the genre fields of Science-Fiction and Fantasy (see my posts on Bruce Pennington as well as Chris Achilléos). So here is a wonderful in-your-face example from the mid-20th century Irish artist and designer Karl Uhlemann who illustrated some of Ireland’s best-known publications during his long career. The book is “Sladmhargadh” by Donach de Róiste, published in 1968 by the Dublin-based Foilseacháin Náisiúnta Teoranta (FNT), and taken from Hitone, a fascinating blog dedicated to Irish book covers and designs.

That Alan Moore Interview

Alan Moore

Alan Moore (Íomhá: © Comic Vine)

The Ard Rí of Irish Sci-Fi and Fantasy fandom, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, has managed to secure a lengthy Q&A with the elusive and frankly legendary British comics writer Alan Moore over on his Slovobooks blog. Even more impressively it has been highlighted by Britain’s Guardian newspaper and others which has probably sent his stats meter into meltdown. I highly recommend a read of something which has stirred up much controversy in the world of genre fiction.

[With thanks to An Lorcánach for the link]

From The New Sun To Dune, Bruce Pennington

The Claw of the Conciliator by Bruce Pennington

Wraparound cover illustration for Gene Wolfe’s science-fantasy classic “The Claw of the Conciliator”, drawn by Bruce Pennington (Íomhá: © 1981 Bruce Pennington)

The Citadel of the Autarch by Bruce Pennington

Wraparound cover illustration for Gene Wolfe’s science-fantasy classic “The Citadel of the Autarch”, drawn by Bruce Pennington (Íomhá: © 1983 Bruce Pennington)

Following the positive reaction to my brief post highlighting the career of the British illustrator Bruce Pennington (notably his artwork for the 1980 book cover of Gene Wolfe’s classic science-fantasy publication “The Shadow of the Torturer”) I thought I’d feature a few more of his best regarded images. These include two more wraparound illustrations for the baroque stories relating to the character of Severian the Torturer (above) as well as his seminal works for the dust jackets of Frank Herbert’s “Dune Messiah” and “Children of Dune” (below). Unfortunately I can only find the former in its published form, complete with title and blurb, but it still displays the exquisite nature of Pennington’s art, the use of one dominant colour in variable shades of pastel highlighted by flashes of brighter colour. For many in European fandom Bruce Pennington along with a handful of other artists very much encapsulated the “look” of Sci-Fi and Fantasy book covers throughout the 1970s and early ‘80s. By the last decade of the 20th century the brasher and more workmanlike art styles of the major US publishers gradually came to dominate, particularly with the use of generic “stock images” that frequently bore little relation to the stories they purported to portray, and the era of the “painterly” technique was over.

Dune Messiah by Bruce Pennington

Wraparound cover for Frank Herbert’s science-fiction sequel “Dune Messiah”, illustration drawn by Bruce Pennington (Íomhá: © 1981 Bruce Pennington)

Children of Dune cover by Bruce Pennington

Wraparound cover illustration for Frank Herbert’s third novel in the Dune series, “Children of Dune”, drawn by Bruce Pennington (Íomhá: © 1982 Bruce Pennington)

Thankfully the growth of digital artwork and design has somewhat reversed the restrictions on artistic expression and vision placed by budgetary concerns in the world of publishing and a new body of artists have emerged albeit frequently working in a much more photorealistic style. I shall examine some of the better examples of that later. Meanwhile below is a crop image from another work by Bruce Pennington, the British frontispiece for the cover of the now rarely encountered “Dune Encyclopaedia” edited by Willis E. McNelly with the co-operation of Frank Herbert and published in 1984. Based upon the latter’s Dune series of novels it has long been out of print due to the notoriously litigious nature of the Herbert estate under his son Brian Herbert, who has penned a series of novels with hireling writer Kevin J. Anderson based upon his father’s works that bear little relation to the “in-universe” materials found in the encyclopaedia. While many regard the information created or compiled by McNelly as “canon” (including in part Frank Herbert who wrote an introduction for the publication) others follow Brian Herbert in discounting its importance. Personally I found the 2000s’ Dune sequels and “prequels” by Herbert junior unreadable and prefer the original works, though admittedly by the time of 1981’s “God Emperor of Dune” Herbert senior had certainly lost his artistic way.

The Dune Encyclopedia by Bruce Pennington

A crop image from the frontispiece illustration of the wraparound cover by Bruce Pennington for the “Dune Encyclopaedia”, the history of the Dune universe written by Willis E. McNelly with the approval of author Frank Herbert (Íomhá: © 1984 Bruce Pennington)

Raven, Swordmistress Of Chaos, Chris Achilléos

Raven, Swordmistress Of Chaos by Chris Achilléos 1978

Cover illustration “Raven, Swordmistress Of Chaos” by Chris Achilléos (Íomhá: © 1978 Chris Achilléos)

Chris Achilléos is a Cypriot-born British artist who came to prominence in the 1970s and ‘80s with illustrations for a large number of books and magazines in the Fantasy and Sword ‘n’ Sorcery genres. Instantly recognisable for his exquisitely rendered female figures, invariably beautiful, frequently belligerent, he became widely known amongst fans through several best-selling art-collections that remain popular to the present day. His obvious delight in painting muscular, female warriors who stared defiantly from the covers of countless publications contrasted at the time with the willowy, weak-limbed princesses favoured by many of his contemporaries. Aside from the stunning and much-loved “Elven Warrior”, a 1983 wrap-around jacket for Michael Moorcock’s seminal high fantasy work “Elric at the End of Time”, his most famous artistic production is “Raven, Swordmistress of Chaos” drawn for the cover of a 1978 book of the same name by Richard Kirk (the shared nom de plume of the authors Robert Holdstock and Angus Wells). However in this particular case the fame came incidentally through the Irish-British musician Kate Bush who along with the designer Pamela Keat chose the illustration as a source of inspiration for the costume she wore in the music video of her 1980 hit “Babooshka”.

For a gallery of more magnificent artworks by Chris Achilléos please visit here.

Kate Bush from the music video Babooshka in full Chris Achilléos inspired style

Kate Bush from the music video Babooshka in full Chris Achilléos inspired style (Íomhá: © Kate Bush/Parlophone UK)

Death Dealer, Frank Frazetta

Death Dealer by Frank Frazetta 1973

Standalone painting “Death Dealer” by Frank Frazetta (Íomhá: © 1973 Frank Frazetta)

The name of Frank Frazetta will conjure up for many some of the most luscious and artistically accomplished Fantasy art to have been produced over the last 60 years. From the 1950s to the early ‘90s the American artist established his fame with a host of covers for books, magazines and comics not to mention music albums and movie posters. Working first in pen and ink and then blossoming through the traditional medium of oil paints he defined the look and feel of High Fantasy or fantasy-tinged Sci-Fi art for an entire generation of fans and fellow artists, spawning numerous imitators. His exquisitely rendered images for such classic series as Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories or Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom sequence remain seminal examples of the genre. However for many his most iconic work is the 1973 painting “Death Dealer”, a mysterious warrior figure which took on a life of its own.

For more on the works of Frazetta the website “frankfrazetta.org” provides a categorised list of well-stocked galleries while “americanartarchives.com” provides a rather shorter number of images (including this favourite of mine – for obvious reasons).

The Shadow Of The Torturer, Bruce Pennington

Wraparound cover illustration for Gene Wolfe's science-fantasy classic The Shadow of the Torturer, drawn by Bruce Pennington, 1980

Wraparound cover illustration for Gene Wolfe’s science-fantasy classic “The Shadow of the Torturer”, drawn by Bruce Pennington (Íomhá: © 1980 Bruce Pennington)

For lovers of science-fiction and fantasy book art from the 1970s and ’80s the name of Bruce Pennington looms large. He is indelibly associated with some of the greatest writers of the era, his baroque images gracing the covers of such diverse publications as Frank Herbert’s “Dune” or Harry Harrison’s ” Stainless Steel Rat”. However for many his most accomplished professional creation is the atmospheric jacket illustration he produced for the first hardback edition of Gene Wolfe’s 1980 novel “The Shadow of the Torturer”. Frequently copied, rarely matched, it remains a textbook example of book art, technically perfect in almost every respect. Though collections of his work are now long out of print they are certainly deserving of a new compendium. There are more Pennington book covers here.

Death Of The Irish Harp

The book-cover of St. Aodh Óg, Ireland, c.1000 CE. The earliest unambiguous depiction of an Irish harp

The book-cover of St. Aodh Óg, Ireland, c.1000 CE. The earliest unambiguous depiction of an Irish harp

For those interested in the psychology of art symbolism there is a great study by Mary Louise O’Donnell, of the University of Limerick, examining the slow dilution of the Irish Harp as the recognised emblem of the modern nation-state of Ireland. In particular since the sudden growth and equally sudden demise of the country’s so-called Celtic Tiger socio-economic model Ireland’s political and social elites have been at the forefront of chipping away at the historical legitimacy of their own state. A cultural phenomenon perhaps unique in modern Europe.

“Peter Alter notes that ‘national symbols are not static’ and can ‘lose their political integrating force and their credibility especially when the national programme for which they stand loses its persuasive power and is replaced by a different programme’.

The concept of branding has become an integral part of Irish harp iconography in the last decade. Terminology such as ‘emblem’ and ‘symbol’ has been replaced by the term ‘logo’, which is now the most potent tool in corporate branding and the creation of brand recognition. The Irish harp emblem, which is regarded increasingly as visually anachronistic, has been replaced by a variety of harp logos…

The Irish harp emblem is increasingly rejected in favour of a selection of fluid, oblique images of harps which reflect postmodern Irish society and culture. Fredric Jameson suggests that postmodernism ‘only clocks the variations themselves, and knows only too well that the contents are just more images’.

He notes that ‘there can-not but be much that is deplorable and reprehensible in a cultural form of image addiction which, by transforming the past into visual mirages, stereotypes, or texts, effectively abolishes any practical sense of the future’.

Dorothea Olkowoski-Leatz explores the consequences of this dispersion and fragmentation of images, suggesting that ‘there is nothing to know; there is only the distribution of information. There is no longer any history, only the parodying repetition of the past: a repetition visible in art culture, styles, political posturing.’

Harp logos, as employed by government departments or agencies, are arbitrary images which claim to represent reality but which, in truth, mean nothing. Jean Baudrillard used the term ‘simulacra’ to describe signs which serve no purpose and have no connection with reality. In Simulacra and Simulation he identified four orders of simulacra: firstly, the creation of false images which no longer represent what they are intended to signify; secondly, the reproduction and repetition of these false images; thirdly, the collapse of any distinction between the real image/sign and its simulation; and finally, pure simulation which has no relation to any reality.

The increasing employment and reproduction of harp logos, or false harp images, in place of the Irish harp emblem exemplifies the early stages of Baudrillard’s theory of simulacrization

Sadly, it seems that the Irish harp emblem has no significant role in the image-driven culture of post-modern Ireland. It has an uncertain future.

The national symbol, the potent visual representation of centuries of Irish politics, culture and history is evidently not an ‘integral part of a visual identity’ for the period… In light of the transformation of the Irish harp emblem over the last two decades one wonders how much longer it can remain an integral part of Irish identity.”

I’m no fan of the Irish Harp as such, nor indeed of the Tricolour or National Flag of Ireland. The latter in particular seems ugly and alien to me, unlike say the Gal Gréine. However I would mourn the passing of the Harp, with its ancient emblematic lineage, as one of the symbols of Ireland. If that does happen, and I suspect Mary Louise O’Donnell’s prediction may prove to be correct, it simply adds to the general feeling so readily observable all around us that we live in a “false” Ireland. One that the certain classes and cliques in Irish society seem determined to impose instead of the “real” Ireland which came before.

Albert Robida, Fantastic Futurist

Le Sortie de l'opéra en l'an 2000, Albert Robida, c.1882 (Íomhá: Leabharlann na Comhdhála, SAM)

Le Sortie de l’opéra en l’an 2000, Albert Robida, c.1882 (Íomhá: Leabharlann na Comhdhála, SAM)

The artist Albert Robida is one of my favourite writer-illustrators from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, not least for his fantastical vision of a future Europe represented in a trilogy of “scientific romances” called Le Vingtième Siècle (1883), La Guerre au vingtième siècle (1887) and Le Vingtième siècle – La vie électrique (1890). He’s largely forgotten now but here are a couple of his wonderful illustrations.

Maison tournante aérienne, Albert Robida, c.1883 (Íomhá: Leabharlann na Comhdhála, SAM)

Maison tournante aérienne, Albert Robida, c.1883 (Íomhá: Leabharlann na Comhdhála, SAM)

Cures d'air dans la montagne, Albert Robida c.1883 (Íomhá: Leabharlann na Comhdhála, SAM)

Cures d’air dans la montagne, Albert Robida c.1883 (Íomhá: Leabharlann na Comhdhála, SAM)

Imram 2012, Leonard Cohen And More

Imram 2012 – Féile Litríochta Gaeilge, Túr na nAmhrán, Tionscadal Cohen – Leonard Cohen

Today’s Irish Times has a lengthy examination by Úna Mullally of the Irish arts scene that is well worth reading:

“Imram, the Irish-Language Literature Festival takes place from October 11th to the 20th, and offers a dynamic programme. There are familiar names participating: Louis de Paor, Dairena Ní Chinnéide, Micheál Ó Conghaile. And there are familiar names discussed: Pádraic Ó Conaire and Seán Ó Ríordáin among them. But there is a current of energy flowing through the festival that those used to the traditional narratives of the Irish language in the arts might be surprised by.

There is an indoor and outdoor multimedia installation by Ceaití Ní Bheildiúin; a dance piece called Ré written by Daithí Ó Muirí and choreographed by Fearghus Ó Conchúir; contemporary prose from Éilís Ní Anluain; the Mouth On Fire theatre company reading Beckett’s poetry in Irish; The Cohen Project sees poets Liam Ó Muirthile and Gabriel Rosenstock translate some of Leonard Cohen’s work into Irish, with Liam Ó Maonlaí, David Blake, Hilary Bow and the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra providing the music.

Next week, a two-day symposium is being held in Dublin aiming to “explore, challenge and provoke notions of contemporary arts practice in Irish.” The symposium, titled Fás agus Forbairt’ (Grow and Develop) is hoping to bring together contemporary artists who are currently working in Irish and artists who may speak Irish but whose work is in English.

 

In music, the Kilas and the Ó Maonlaís were flying the flag for Irish-inflected contemporary music from the 1990s on, and that’s still the case. The annual Seachtain na Gaeilge Ceol compilation CDs feature contemporary Irish artists singing Irish-language versions of their songs. While the overall result might be nice, there’s a sense of tokenism about it, even if, on occasion, these songs are occasionally brought to a live setting.

But things are changing. Temper-Mental MissElayneous, an upcoming Dublin rapper, has a tendency to drop Irish rhymes into her raps accompanied by bodhrán instead of beats, namely with her track Cailín Rua. And Daithí, a Clare fiddle player who has managed to successfully fuse traditional strains with contemporary electronic music, recently sampled the singer Mary O’Hara in one of his tracks, a trick last pulled by Massachusetts band Passion Pit in their break-out single Sleepyhead.

From the Puball Gaeilge tent at Electric Picnic to Manchán Mangan’s theatre work, there is an edge to the Irish language in a contemporary artistic context, and that edge is growing as those in charge of funding continue to quietly seek out more non-traditional targets. But a new generation of artists also need to take the leap. Perhaps next week’s Fás agus Forbairt symposium will put a real structure around such tentative, yet quickening steps.”

Swords? Check. Boobs? Check. Giant Gun-Toting Alien Lizards? Check!

Good Show, Sir – and the cover of Wicked by L.A. Banks

I love book covers, as some of you may know (pop over here to see why). I especially love what some pseudo-intellectuals pigeon-hole as “genre” fiction. That’s Science-Fiction, Fantasy and Horror to you and me (though a lot of other stuff is lumped in there too).

The wonderful website, “Good Show, Sir”, collects some of the best – or rather, worse – book covers out there. Many are very American in style and feel thanks to that nation’s fine tradition in pulp art. One of my joys is taking the same book title from the US and European markets and comparing their frequently quite divergent cover illustrations. Unfortunately, in these increasingly bland and homogeneous times, more and more jacket art is becoming identical, with only details of language and currency to tell works apart.

Enjoy!

Good Show, Sir – The Little People by John Christopher

The Vandalism Of The Lia Fáil

Lia Fáil, Teamhair na Rí, An Mhí, Éire (An Sionnach Fionn, 2008)

I didn’t get a chance to post on this last week but the Lia Fáil or Stone of Destiny at Teamhair, the Hill of Tara, was severely damaged in an attack by at least one person armed with a large hammer in the days leading up to the 13th of June 2012. Eleven blows were struck on the Lia, on all sides, vandalising the granite surface. The stone fragments that would have been left by the destruction seem to have been removed by the perpetrators of the crime.

From the Irish Times:

“A national monument that is said to have served as the coronation stone for the High Kings of Tara has been vandalised, it was revealed today.

Minister for Heritage Jimmy Deenihan condemned the attack on the Lia Fáil (stone of destiny) Standing Stone, which is situated on the Hill of Tara in Co Meath.

The standing stone, which is believed to date from 3,500BC, is considered an extremely important national monument and features extensively in ancient texts. The granite stone is associated with the inauguration rites for the Kings of Tara and was moved to its current position in the early 19th century.

The monument was reported to be damaged last weekend, but it is unknown when the attack occurred.

An archaeologist from the National Monuments Service examined the monument this week and concluded it had been struck – possibly with a hammer or similar instrument – at 11 places on all four faces of the stone. Fragments of the standing stone were also removed.

Speaking today, Mr Deenihan said the national monuments at Tara, which include the standing stone, are nationally and internationally renowned.

“These monuments are a fundamental part of our shared heritage and history, and I condemn in the strongest terms the damage that has been caused to this monument,” he said.”

The Herald carries a commentary that will echo the feelings of many in the country, and beyond:

“IT wasn’t beautiful, the Lia Fáil. Just a tall, rounded monument like a primeval penis, standing upright on the Hill of Tara in Co Meath.

But to see it as the sun rose or set was to be connected with five thousand years of Irish history, because this is the spot where kings were crowned.

The stone carried writing from a time we can barely imagine. A time when Ireland was filled with mystery and myth. It caused visitors to realise just how small they are, in the long, long story of this island.

Until someone took a lump hammer to it. Some anonymous vandal struck the monument at least eleven times. Oh, the power that vandal must have felt, destroying history with each blow.

And the secret power the vandal may still feel, clutching some of the pieces chipped off the stone.

Souvenirs to be boasted of with drinking buddies, or maybe just savoured in private to prove how heroic the vandal is, in his own eyes. (Sorry to be sexist, but the chances that the perp was a woman are pretty small.)

This was vandalism on a different scale. Whoever did this has a pathetic need to prove themselves bigger than history. And they succeeded.

They erased some of the work of a craftsman who reached out to us across the centuries. They severed a link that mattered. Let’s face it, if you drop a glass bought in IKEA last week, you sweep it up and forget about it.

If you drop a glass left to you by your grandmother, you’re furious with yourself; some part of your family past has been accidentally destroyed.

But you’d never, ever take a hammer to a family heirloom. Of course, more Irish people go to Disneyland in any given year than ever visited the Lia Fáil in Meath, and many of those who have visited were not that moved by the tall rounded lump of stone.

For many, this was a “whatever” moment, rather than a shock-and-awe issue. And now, some expert will assess what can be done and the majority will forget about it, because we have more immediate fish to fry.

We’ve lost monuments before and their loss hasn’t done us enormous harm.

Someone with more fire power than a lump hammer decided to take down Nelson’s Pillar in the middle of Dublin and a fair few Irish people thought “good riddance,” because, although climbing all the steps to the top was a rite of passage for tourists, many locals didn’t particularly like having a British admiral, however heroic, dominating the capital’s streetscape.

But Nelson had been up there for nearly two hundred years. Not thousands of years. Nelson linked us with a period of our history we hated. So we got over his fall.

But here’s the reality. The lads who sang The Fields Of Athenry this week in the face of sporting humiliation were following a great tradition. Making a statement in song about who we are, as a nation.

Ireland’s story is told in song, in story — and in stone. That some fool with a lump hammer destroyed one of the great stone chapters in our history is stupid, shameful — and sad.”

Teamhair, the ritual capital of Ireland, is one of the most important sites on the island of Ireland; it connects us to our Gaelic and Celtic identity. The Lia Fáil was part of that identity and the damage done to it was not just a series of physical blows to a granite stone but a blow at the very foundations of the Irish nation. Of who we are as a people.

I urge anyone who has information in relation to this grotesque act of vandalism to contact the Gardaí. Or if reluctant to do so you may contact me in confidence at the email address of An Sionnach Fionn and I will take the matter from there.

An Garda Síochána can be contacted at:

Ashbourne Garda Station, Ashbourne, Co. Meath

Tel: +353 1 8010600

Fax: +353 1 8352837 (Public Office)

Fax: +353 1 8010603 (District Office)

District HQ: Ashbourne

District HQ Tel: +353 1 8010600

Divisional HQ: Navan

Divisional HQ Tel: +353 46 9036300

Come Here To Me!

Two great posts from the always interesting Come Here To Me! blog in their Statues of Dublin series: The Phibsborough Volunteer and Constance Markiewicz and Poppet. Also have a look at their Lanes of Dublin series. It’s far better than it sounds!

Some Classic Irish Language Book Covers

I love books, especially old books (much to the detriment of my bank account). I’ve managed to gather a wide and varied collection of my own, from 19th century Fenian memoirs to mid-20th century Sci-Fi pulps, and lately I’ve started looking around for more Irish language publications (particularly the various Seanchló editions). Happily one can often combine a love for books with an interest in illustration and design (though as any SF fan can tell you, great covers don’t always make for great books. Chris Foss has a lot to answer for!).

So it was great to come across this posting on 50Watts of a series of Irish language books covers from the 1930s. Some really interesting finds here, all of which were published by the Irish state through Oifig An tSoltáthair or Oifig Díolta Foillseacháin Rialtais (this back in the day when governments cared about culture and learning). It well worth taking a look for anyone with an interest in the Irish writing or graphic design. More can be seen here on Hitone, with a wide variety of Irish publications in Irish and English.