Magill People - October 1981
Tony Murray, Aine O'Donoghue John & Anne Foley, Richard Seager and Danny Osborne
Tony Murray's exhibition of photographs at the Gallery of Photography conntains many unroman tic and humorous reflections of Ireland. There is a shot of a husband and wife having a day out on Dollymount Strand. The pair are enssconced in deck chairs, shelterring beside their car whilst reading the newspaper. The absurdity of going to the beach to read your newspaper is accentuated by the drab, cold look of the weather and by the almost empty strand. Religious images among the thirty black-and-white picctures range from the ascent of Croagh Patrick to the garish nature of carpets on which are designed crucifixion scenes. Magill wondered whether Tony went out of his way to find images of the blend of bad taste and religion:
"Religion is just there in Ireeland, but on top of the fact thaJ you find it everywhere, you also find that the Irish accommodate religious ferrvour with making a quick buck. Croagh Patrick is a good example - you can pay 70p for a cup of tea there."
Tony's exhibition represents shots taken over the last two years. Since he is a part-time teacher of photography at both the National College of Art and Design and at Rathhmines College of Commerce, he is free in his photography from commercial time presssures or content constraints. He takes what he wants to take. The influence of his own background - he studied painting at Kildare Street ˜means that nearly all his photographs retain a formal balanced constru ction. Likeewise his desire to get the image and the image alone means that he does not ennlarge or blow -up sections of his shots; rather he uses the whole negative. Nor does he use wide angled or telefoto lenses. "You take what is there before your eyes."
'Snaps' is at the Gallery of Photography, 37/39 Wellinggton Quay, Dublin 2, until 17 October.
Out of sheer perversity, Magill wishes, in the month of the Dublin Theatre Festival, to consider the Edinnburgh Arts Festival. Or rather, to consider the relative succcess there of Isosceles, the two-man show comprising Pat Abernethy and Dave Marsden. Despite strong competition 8there are almost five hundred shows happening at the Fringe Festival - Pat and Dave managed a three-week run which was almost totally sold out. Furthermore they attracted the attention of the Beeb exciting developpments are anxiously awaited.
Edinburgh makes a strange contrast to the relative lack of popularity which they have enjoyed in Dublin, where they are based. They had bother filling Players Theatre in the evenings durring a recent two-week run.
The Isosceles act is essenntially light hearted, a series of comic sketches interspersed with songs. Since they nummber but two and their props are limited, they are an act which is well suited to tourring. In December of this year they will be doing a Northern Irish Arts Council-sponsored tour of community centres in Belfast. This involves perrforming across the political divide, from Turf Lodge to Ballymartin. However, such is the act;-th-at on- a previous
similar tour of Belfast, the same material was warmly appreciated by both Catholic and Protestant audiences.
When you tour, you end up doing some funny gigs, but few gigs can have been as offfputting as one which Isosceles played during a tour of hospitals and community centres in the North. They ended up playing to a ward of geriatrics, who watched their whole perrformance with almost total irn p assivi ty .
"Afterwards the nurses told us that the folks had enjoyed the act a lot. But we couldn't tell how it was going down. The only response from them was the odd involuntary exxclamation, which didn't relate to anything."
Isosceles are at the Riverside Theatre, Coleraine in middOctober.
I get a kick out of seeing things which no one has ever seen before."
Thus spake Danny Osborne, and before you dismiss the remark as' pretentious rubbish, pause to reflect that Danny spent six weeks trudging' alone across the previously unexplored tundra of Ellessmere Island, the most Norrtherly land mass in the Canaadian Arctic Archipelago. Danny was part of the threeeman Irish Arctic Expedition which spent most of this spring and summer on Ellessmere Island. Part of Danny's research brief was to evaluate the effect of intense cold and ice on the landscape, particuularly where that might be relevant to Ireland's history.
Danny's six weeks of solo travelling - in fact he was not totally alone since he was accompanied by a huskie have been recorded by him in a series of paintings which are currently on display at the Taylor Galleries in Dawson Street.
Inevitably Danny's solo trip was not without its moments of danger. Due to the effect of what Arctic exxplorers call a "white out", at one point he, almost literally, skied off the edge of a glacier. The "white out" is a visual distortion cau3ed by the white landscape which means that one does not notice a sudden falling away of the ground. In this case, had it not been for the huskie which stopped short of the glacier edge, he would have gone over the top of a four hunndred foot high cliff.
In the next few months, Osborne, along with his partt'ners Gerry Wardell and John O'Meara will be lecturing on their expedition at venues throughout the country. Furrther ex tensive scien tific records of the trip, as well as a video made for RTE, are in preparation.
(Danny Osborne's paintings are at the Taylor Galleries, 6 Dawson Street, until 10 October.)
Ornithologists and anthroopologists alike have failed to notice a growing trend in the local thespian population. There is currently in Dublin an expanding colony of that rare aVIS, the English actor, come to nest on the Irish stage. Formerly the trend was for mass actor migration from Dublin to London. But such is the vibrancy of the Dublin scene that the trend is being reversed.
Richard Seager is an actor who has reversed the tradiitional migration from Dublin to London: "The scene here is more healthy in that there is more work per actor than in London. I was based in London from 1972 to 1980 and throughout that time I was lucky to work five months in the year. In twelve months from last September to this Septem ber in Ireland, I have been out of work for only three weeks."
In the past year, Richard has been in 'Amadeus', 'Twelfth Night', 'Hay Fever' and 'No Man's Land' among others and he is currently reehearsing 'Jennifer's Vacation' by Robert Glendinning. In this new play, set in Northern Ireland, he plays the part of a left wing political activist come to roost among the middle classes of Belfast's Malone Road.
'Jennifer's Vacation' opens in the third week of the Dublin Theatre Festival, on Wednessday 14 October at the Gate Theatre, and is expected to have an extended run.)
JOHN & ANNE FOLEY
A lot of people have fond memories of O'Dwyers of Merrion Row - where many a heated political disscussion was cooled by a pint of the necessary, and many a romantic knot was tied. In recent years the pub suffered' something of a decline and the name change to Gallows Green didn't help improve the image of a restful place to sink a few placid pints. Many's the evening when the legendary O'Donoghue's just across the road was bursting at the seams and yet in Gallows Green there were more beer mats than drinkers.
That's all changed in the past few months, with a new decor, new atmosphere, new management and the same reliable booze. John and Anne Foley, from Cork and Donegal respectively, have invested several scores of thousands in revitalising the place and so far it has been paying off in attracting a whole new clientele to the area
In 1972 John Foley bought The Man of Aran, down on Dublin's Aran Quay. Over the years he built up a solid reputation for the place as one of the better places to wine and dine in the city. In 1978 the place was sold and later renamed The Amory Grant. By then the Foleys had moved to The Rambler's Rest in Killiney. Now, with a footlooseness unusual in publicans, they've turned to Merrion Row.
The pub had to be closed during the prime months of June and July while alterations were carried out, but the improvements seem to have been worth it. Some of the bits and pieces from the old days survive - the brass beer pumps (no, unforrtunately, they don't work) and the massive clock on the back wall. The clock is menntioned in an inventory of the pub dated 1851 and has been restored and now keeps perrfect time - which is handy when closing time comes around.
Aine O'Donoghue, the reesearch director of the Market Research Bureau of Ireland Ltd. (MRBI), has recently been responsible for the installation of the first micro computer in an opinion research company in Ireland. The' computer will provide speedier and fuller analysis of research information. MRBI, which is owned by Jack Jones, was the company used by Magill to accurately predict the outcome of the recent general election. It is now in its twentieth year of operaation and will be conducting special prestige surveys to commemorate the occasion. Aine O'Dorioghue is a recent TCD graduate in computer science.