Before the Start Jack B. Yeats

So I now have an image on my blog.  It was difficult as, for some reason, it did not want to get itself loaded.  Nevertheless, it is loaded.  Jack B. Yeats is my favourite Irish artist and I have seen some of his pictures, in the flesh, so to speak, both here in Cork at the Crawford and also in Dublin.  They are immediately recognisable to an art gallery visitor, such as myself, who just strides through glancing at the pictures on the left and on the right, my head switching like someone at a live tennis match.  Something strikes me and I approach it.  In Ireland I find it is Jack B. Yeats or William Orpen.  So that is my way of citing my image; the painting is held at The National Gallery of Ireland, in Dublin.  W.B. Yeats would be so proud after all his efforts to establish such an institution.

This painting features on the cover of my 1995 copy of Synge’s The Complete Plays.  I suppose it is there as an illustration to The Playboy of the Western World.  A play soon to open in Cork at The Everyman, and, incidentally, the first play I ever directed when I was Head of Drama at a grammar school for girls, in 1981.  Strangely in that school there were no drama lessons.  My brief, apart from teaching English, was to direct two plays a year.  So I cast the naughtiest girl in the school,  Joanne, to play Pegeen Mike.  And the handsomest boy from the local boys’ grammar school to play Christy.  They played in the round, dodging a peat fire, made of stuck together bits of peat from a gardening centre, and lit by a lamp bulb, covered with a red lighting gel.  Inevitably this contraption started to smoke and caught fire during the first act.

But I love the horserace in Playboy.  I love the horserace in The Quiet Man.  I am now the proud borrower of UCC’s library book, The Kirwans of Castlehacket, Co. Galway: History, folklore and mythology in an Irish horse racing family by Robert Lynch.  (2006) Four Courts Press, Dublin.  It has a chapter on Emily Lawless.  I found this out during my session yesterday with Ronan Madden.  Well done, Ronan, you taught me how to search databases.  No mean achievement, I assure you.

Can’t wait for my visit to Cork Racecourse Mallow on October 17th.  This is deep research, as in deep cleaning.  Experiential. Let me know if you have any tips – but be clear that I usually choose a horse by its name and the jockeys’ colours.

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