Rónán Ó Raghallaigh
The Ground Floor Gallery, The Complex,
03-09 September 2021
Photos: Marcus Cassidy
In 390 BC, a group o Celts invaded and took over Rome. After lootin it, de chieftain Brennus agreed t leave if dey were paid a thousand pounds o gold. One o de Romans complained dat Brennus’ scales were tampered with, so Brennus threw his sword on dem and said: Vae Victis: Woe to the Vanquished, ye’ve lost so yer at me mercy, good luck to ye horse, slán leat.
Vae Victis is a series o paintins which were begun in 2019 after spendin a year on de
colonised land o Tkaronto. Dey take as deir subject matter de suppression o de Celtic by de Roman Empire, de Christian Church and de British Empire. Dey are part of a larger
cultural rebellion, me own 21st Century Celtic Revival, an attempt to decolonise de psyche somehow 100 years after de Irish Republic was formed.
Dese are anti-history paintins. Dey are anti-colonialism paintins. Dey are stories o me
people, of victory, loss, tragedy, pain, embarrassment, betrayal, rebellion and revenge. Dey look down into some o de murkier pools of Irish history.
Dey are de work of a druid who seeks both physical and spiritual peace but cackles while
stirrin up de bloody broth in his cauldron.
Dere has been no attempt by meself to be impartial or to represent Irishness as a whole, or to be consistent: de stories were chosen simply cos dey’ve stuck with me since I was a young lad or I’ve been drawn to dem in recent years. Dey are a response to me own experience as a postcolonial subject.
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.
Us sackin de Romans and de Greeks. Roman Revenge. Boudica, de Celtic rebel who became a symbol o British nationalism. St. Patrick’s suppression o paganism. De death o Brian Boru.
Aoife of Leinster becomin a war queen herself. De blood runnin down Dunlavin Green. De Walkin Gallows. Our often awkward relationships with other colonised peoples. Countess Markievicz de druidic gender-bender. Me grandfather’s stories o de Black and Tans. Roger Casement’s Black Diaries. De people o Naas bein shocked when one family openly supported de hunger strikers.
History, myth, selfhood, division, oneness, blood and honey are all thrown into me own bubblin cauldron. Drink yer mead, burn dem all in de Wicker Man and grow again.
Rónán Ó Raghallaigh is an artist from Kildare. He graduated from NCAD this year with an MFA in Art in the Contemporary World. Last Bealtaine he was re-baptised by his family with the Irish version of his name and declared himself a druid.
This video presents a recording of Rónán Ó Raghallaigh's performance, 'Beannaím an Tuaisceart'. Part of the exhibition 'Vae Victis' at The Complex.