Today, Thursday the 9th of September, is your last day to catch ‘Vae Victis’, a new series of Celtic paintings by Rónán Ó Raghallaigh. Last Bealtine, Rónán declared himself a Druid, and was re-baptised with the Irish version of his name.
In Rónán’s words, ‘Vae Victis’ “looks down into some o de murkier pools of Irish history … Dey are about men, women, both and neither. Dey interweave myth with history, just as us Irish have done since day one. Dey depict de Other, as victim and bloodthirsty savage and something else.”
In his painting ‘Naomh Pádraig agus an Morrigan’, Rónán reflects upon St Patrick’s fight against Paganism. St Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland and brought Christianity to the country. As the story goes, he banished the snakes, which made the Emerald Isle a much more hospitable place for its inhabitants.
The famed tale is stuff of legend, as the reptiles never existed in Ireland. In the Old Irish text ‘‘St Patrick’s Breastplate’, the Saint warns about the “spells of women, and of smiths, and of Druids.” St Patrick did rid Ireland of snakes, but only in a metaphorical sense. The Druid symbol is the snake, and his ridding of the creatures is a metaphor for his Christian influence.
The Morrigan is another ‘creature’ St Patrick is said to have battled. After climbing Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo, he knelt to pray and was attacked by a blackbird. He banished the bird, forbidding it from returning to the mountain. The Morrigan is a shape shifting war Goddess who often takes the form of a crow or raven. St Patrick’s antagonism towards the ‘creatures’ he encountered could be interpreted as being symbolic of his new religious ideology, Catholicism, replacing Paganism.
‘Vae Victis’ is a series of paintings that explore the suppression of The Celtic by The Christian Church, The Roman Empire and The British Empire.
Don’t miss ‘Vae Victis’, showing in The Ground Floor Gallery between 10AM and 5PM today!