Irish visual art and the vaunted uniqueness of our ‘spiritual heritage’
We’re the world’s friendliest people ‑ though don’t mention the Brits. We’re great at the ould writing, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the jar. God comes second only to Ireland, and sometimes first. And of course we’re always up for a scrap. Yes, yes, yes … but what are we really like?
There is a good deal of evidence to suggest that rock music was foundationally both socially liberal and economically neoliberal from the mid-70s onwards. The social liberalism may have been most evident in the music, the neoliberalism in the media infrastructures that carried it.
In an age obsessed with technology and consumerism Janet Mullarney’s work reverts to a basic humanity, but does so in complex ways. Her art, Declan McGonagle has written, reminds us ‘that we all swim in a sea of continuities, of memories and dreams which suffuse our reality’.
If one wanted to write a contemporary comic novel about Irish academia the action would surely have to take place at an Irish Studies conference, somewhere off the island, and the big intellectual beasts would tussle over Irish ‘identity’ – a concept they all without exception love. But what does it mean?
A resort to high-rise has been suggested as a means to solve Dublin’s planning and housing problems. But there are better solutions, including the conversion of free space above city centre shops and the reconfiguration, for greater population density, of the twentieth century suburbs.
It is unlikely that we will find any single solution to Ireland’s housing crisis. The aim of the decision-makers in the short term should be to do what they can to manage the current crisis while at the same time preparing a way for a longer-term reform of the housing system.
Once independence was won, the question facing Irish ideologues and leaders was how to make revival real. It was then that the tenuous and tentative nature of the relation between the cultural and the political became clear. Those different spheres would never march in lockstep.
Belfast’s Balmoral Cemetery was once a gloriously dishevelled and spooky playground favoured by the more adventurous among neighbourhood children. But after many complaints it was cleaned up, and it’s now as straight-lined and ‘Protestant-looking’ as anyone could wish.