Brown Bull Walking by County Down based painter Tommy Barr at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in Turlough Park, Castlebar, County Mayo, provides a visual treat for hungry museum visitors. The exhibition is now running in the extension area of Brambles Museum Café and runs for the summer period. This is the second edition of the exhibition and contains a number of the paintings which were so well received at Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange and Knowth ) over the Spring Equinox.
The paintings depict the megalithic landscape of Ireland. From Louth and Meath in the East to Mayo and Sligo in the West, the exhibition brings together images from a network of important sites that represent the sacred, mythical and traditional origins of our country. This is typical of Tommy’s work. He is described by Dr Ramsey of the Armagh County Museum as an artist who “draws upon the past for inspiration, producing relevant modern pieces in a distinctive and instantly recognisable style”.
The route through the exhibition criss-crosses the trail of the epic Táin Bó Cúailnge saga. Indeed the sites depicted have been selected based upon their importance to that story. While this Táin is set at a much later date, these earlier sites would have been familiar reference points for the key protagonists and for the citizens of those legendary kingdoms. In keeping with the great tradition of Irish storytelling, the landscape is integral to the story providing the all-important backdrop.
For the visitor, the journey through the exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to spend a little time enjoying the gifts of our ancestors and the legends which we have built around them. Tommy speaks with great fondness of his time spent researching this exhibition, explaining that “these sites and the craftsmanship of the period are the inspiration for much of what I do. Each place has its own unique beauty and the mood changes from site to site. I hope I have been able to capture just a little of that”.
Tommy is also quick to praise the work of the National Museum of Ireland, recognising “the valuable work done in preserving and keeping alive our precious history”. Hopefully this exhibition will contribute to that effort, providing visitors with a little glimpse of the footprints of our ancestors. Visit the Museum Café, which is run by well-known caterers Brambles, for a wide variety of tasty and seasonal meals and snacks. Enjoy the freshly baked produce and speciality teas and coffees. Spend a while in the museum café as the perfect compliment to your museum visit. Enjoy your meal! Bain sult as do chuid bia!