Tue, Sep 12 2023 2023, Askeaton, Eulàlia Rovira, fieldwork, Michele Horrigan, Niamh Moriarty, research, Ruth Clinton, Sean Lynch, The Pilgrim
Above and below: Askeaton’s Friary where the body of the Barcelona merchant lies since 1784 and cloister (below). Photos: Latitudes.
“The Pilgrim”’s curatorial framework derives from an extraordinary story from over two centuries ago. It is recalled that a Barcelona merchant named Don Martínez de Mendoza, one of the wealthiest men in Catalonia during the mid-1700s, murdered his son-in-law to avenge the death of his daughter in childbirth in a Barcelona convent years before. Don Martínez ended up living his last sixteen years as a pilgrim in penance in Askeaton, Co. Limerick. A cryptic inscription can still be found in the cloister of Askeaton Friary: “Beneath lies the Pilgrim’s Body, who died January 17, 1784”.
(Above and below) Inscription of The Pilgrim at the Cloister of Askeaton Franciscan Friary, Co. Limerick, Ireland. Photos: Eulàlia Rovira and Latitudes.
Throughout the Spring of 2023, Latitudes researched documentation in the Arxiu Històric de la Ciutat de Barcelona (Casa de l'Ardiaca) with the hopes of finding evidence of Askeaton's Pilgrim, browsing certificates of docking in the Port of Barcelona, licenses of the board of health, details of boat captain promotion, health patents, and plague-free certificates. With little to no factual data on Askeaton’s Pilgrim – besides his name (Don Martínez de Mendoza), his date of death (Askeaton, 1784), that he was a Barcelona merchant from the mid-18th Century who had a flagship called Isabella, and a daughter called Beatrice (Beatriz? Beatriu?) – we weren't able to find further evidence of his existence. During Clinton & Moriarty’s May visit to Barcelona, they were considering “spaces that share a historic Catholic faith; places and relics that are similarly ‘touched by celebrity’, or a dramatic, salacious story; journeys of personal discovery ... and fallen idols” and visited Montserrat Mountain and church, Christopher Columbus’s Monument on Les Rambles; the steps where Columbus was allegedly received by the Catholic Kings in Plaça del Rei, as well as the crypt where Santa Eulàlia (the co-patron of Barcelona) is entombed in the Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia.
Niamh Moriarty rubbing the steps where Columbus was allegedly received by the Catholic Kings in Plaça del Rei, Barcelona. Photo: Ruth Clinton.
In late August 2023, the second cohort of pilgrims, aka the artist Eulàlia Rovira and project co-curators Latitudes, traveled to Dublin, Sligo, Askeaton, and Limerick. The diary was filled with activities: a visit to the Irish Architecture Archive and the “bog bodies” in Dublin’s National Museum; hikes to Carrowkeel Passage Tombs in Co. Sligo; a tour of the Holycross Abbey by stonemason Philip Quinn in Co. Tipperary; a tour of The Rock of Cashel and the Ardnacrusha Power Station in Co. Clare; a visit to the Flying Boat Museum and Maritime Museum in Foynes and Anthony Sheehy’s tour of Askeaton’s former Franciscan Friary in Co. Limerick; as well as the opening events of the 40th EVA International biennial in Limerick.
Eulàlia Rovira photographing the Ardnacrusha Power Station in Co. Clare.
On Rovira’s first visit to Askeaton, she became captivated by the rapid tide of the river Deel as it runs through the town and reflected on the human and natural engineering of the Shannon Estuary – canal locks, hydroelectric power stations, and numerous bridges.
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“The Pilgrim” is supported by the Irish Arts Council’s International Residency Initiatives Scheme 2022.
- Audio The Pilgrim written by Tim Kelly and read by Carl Doran. Text published in Askeaton-Balysteen Community News, Summer 1984. Voice recorded in August 2018, 24'57''
- Cover Story, September 2023: The Pilgrim in Ireland, 6 September 2023
- Cover Story, May 2023: Ruth Clinton & Niamh Moriarty in Barcelona, May 1 2023
- Presentation by Ruth Clinton & Niamh Moriarty and Askeaton Contemporary Arts around “The Pilgrim” research, 6 May 2023 at 12 pm, May 1 2023
- Latitudes’ Newsletter, February 2022