Cover Story, August 2018
Strange and wonderful things happen in Askeaton—especially during each summer for the last thirteen years. Initiated by artists Michele Horrigan and Sean Lynch in 2006, the residency programme Welcome to the Neighbourhood hosts artists and curators in the midst of this small town community in County Limerick, Ireland, under the umbrella of Askeaton Contemporary Arts.
For the last two weeks, Latitudes joined artists Matt Calderwood, Jonny Lyons, Ruth Clinton and Niamh Moriarty, in investigating, celebrating, and dialoging with the rich social fabric of the town. Their projects were presented during the Open Day this past Saturday July 28.
At Askeaton Community Hall, Glasgow-based artist Jonny Lyons presented a video and sculpture (Joyride, 2018) which resulted from the uncanny vision on the River Deel that is August’s Cover Story. The river runs through the town past the Franciscan friary towards the Shannon estuary beyond, and one early morning last week it served as the setting for a card game. Jonny was struck by the vim and vigour of the card playing he witnessed at local watering hole Ranahan’s Bar. Recruited by Michele and her mother Anne, local card sharks Noel McCarthy, William Sheehan, James and Antoinette Fitzgerald, played a twenty-minute game of Forty-fives on a round table from Ranahan’s, in the middle of the river, at high tide. The pontoon that floated their game was constructed thanks to the amazing ACA production team: Carl Doran, Ray Griffin, and Rory Prout.
Meanwhile, Latitudes’ contribution was triggered by a clue which led to an unexpected connection between Barcelona and Askeaton. It was a starting point rather than a conclusion. A textual splinter that is now pointing us towards future research around the navigators, pirates, traders, religions, and economies which linked Ireland with the Atlantic and western-Mediterranean sea-lanes during the last centuries.
Written in stone at the cloister of the friary (the ruin in the background of this photo) can be read: “Beneath lies the Pilgrim’s body, who died January 17, 1784”. A recording was made of the irrepressible Carl Doran reading a write-up from the ABC News, the town’s annual journal. The Pilgrim tells of young love, clandestine marriage, and a blood-hunt that led a merchant from Barcelona to live out his days in penance in Askeaton. Meanwhile, if you fancy a game of cards, Jonny might be your joker.