JesseJames in conversation with Art Historian Aodhán Rilke. Transcript of the Q&A to follow.
The artist JesseJames used to cycle out into the countryside of Inis Oírr to sketch and paint.
A man I know once met a man from Baile an Chaisleán in Tigh Ned’s, who told him that whenever he looked out of his kitchen window of an evening after being in the pub he would see a herd of elephants charging at him down the raveen. The man I know saw it with his own eyes.
Image: JesseJames. Words: JesseJames.
The persona behind the real self. The real self behind the persona.
Words: Ernie O’Malley. Image: JesseJames.
I live in an average Irish townland. It just happens to be in the middle of Galway Bay.
Image: Man of Aran 2017. Words: Man of Aran 2017.
“O, Mr Conroy, will you come for an excursion to the Aran Isles this summer? We’re going to stay there a whole month. It will be splendid out in the Atlantic. You ought to come. Mr Clancy is coming, and Mr Kilkelly and Kathleen Kearney. It would be splendid for Gretta too if she’d come. She’s from Connacht, isn’t she?”
“Her people are,” said Gabriel shortly.
“But you will come, won’t you?” said Miss Ivors, laying her warm hand eagerly on his arm.
“The fact is,” said Gabriel, “I have just arranged to go——”
“Go where?” asked Miss Ivors.
“Well, you know, every year I go for a cycling tour with some fellows and so——”
“But where?” asked Miss Ivors.
“Well, we usually go to France or Belgium or perhaps Germany,” said Gabriel awkwardly.
“And why do you go to France and Belgium,” said Miss Ivors, “instead of visiting your own land?”
“Well,” said Gabriel, “it’s partly to keep in touch with the languages and partly for a change.”
“And haven’t you your own language to keep in touch with—Irish?” asked Miss Ivors.
“Well,” said Gabriel, “if it comes to that, you know, Irish is not my language.”
Their neighbours had turned to listen to the cross-examination. Gabriel glanced right and left nervously and tried to keep his good humour under the ordeal which was making a blush invade his forehead.
“And haven’t you your own land to visit,” continued Miss Ivors, “that you know nothing of, your own people, and your own country?”
“O, to tell you the truth,” retorted Gabriel suddenly, “I’m sick of my own country, sick of it!”
“Why?” asked Miss Ivors.
Gabriel did not answer for his retort had heated him.
“Why?” repeated Miss Ivors.
They had to go visiting together and, as he had not answered her, Miss Ivors said warmly:
“Of course, you’ve no answer.”
Gabriel tried to cover his agitation by taking part in the dance with great energy. He avoided her eyes for he had seen a sour expression on her face. But when they met in the long chain he was surprised to feel his hand firmly pressed. She looked at him from under her brows for a moment quizzically until he smiled. Then, just as the chain was about to start again, she stood on tiptoe and whispered into his ear:
Words: The Dead from Dubliners by James Joyce
Romantics seek fusion, modernists seek pathos.
Words: Luke Gibbons, Image: JesseJames
Two of them were left out all winter, but the other two seem to be sound.
Words: Overheard on An Trá. Image: Cormac Coyne
Image: Elizabeth Rivers, Stranger in Aran (1946).