Friday 14 December 2018

Art show paints a picture of a creative, philosophical family

AMONGST WOMEN: Richard Kearney with, from left, his sister Sally and her daughter Emma Fitzpatrick, and his daughter
Simone and his wife Anne, at their house in west Cork, before the launch of Anne's 'Mothers and Daughters' exhibition
AMONGST WOMEN: Richard Kearney with, from left, his sister Sally and her daughter Emma Fitzpatrick, and his daughter Simone and his wife Anne, at their house in west Cork, before the launch of Anne's 'Mothers and Daughters' exhibition
ART WITH HEART: A painting on display at the Cork show

PERRY O'DONOVAN

THE philosopher Richard Kearney has been on sabbatical from his professorial duties at Boston College, and has spent time at his house in west Cork writing not one but two books.

The cliff-top farmhouse overlooking Squince Harbour, near the village of Union Hall in west Cork is buzzing with activity with a party to celebrate his wife Anne's 60th birthday and her Mothers and Daughters exhibition, which opened last night in the Union Hall Community Centre.

"The Kearneys were originally from Manch, near Dunmanway," Richard says of his reasons for his west Cork sojourn. "My grandfather was a dispensary doctor in Rosscarbery at the turn of last century, which was his first position after qualifying."

His grandfather, JJ Kearney, went on to become professor of medicine at University College Cork. "His children and grandchildren, and now his great grandchildren, have been coming here for generations. I spent almost all my childhood summers here. And several of the family live here -- my sister, Sally, for example, lives near Union Hall.

On his sabbatical, Prof Kearney has been writing the follow-up to Anatheism, his most recent work, which is about the character of belief after atheism has done its worst -- what is left of God after the "death" of God -- developing, so it seems, a bendable form of belief.

He has also been writing a novel while he's been here, a story based on the life of the last woman to live on Rabbit Island (whom he knew).

But other than briefly mentioning it as he walks me back to the car, he is reluctant to talk about this project because it is still a work in progress.

"Odd thing is," he adds, however, "I met this woman's son in America recently, quite by accident. I didn't know who he was when I met him. It was only subsequently, in conversation, we figured out who we both were -- that we had this Myross connection -- and that I knew precisely who he was. So maybe our encountering one another wasn't nearly so accidental after all."

Mothers and Daughters is an exhibition of paintings, etchings, watercolours and photographs by Anne Bernard Kearney and her daughters, Simone and Sarah; and Richard's sister, Sally, and her daughters, Emma and Eithne Fitzpatrick.

The 80 or so artworks are showing at Union Hall Community Centre in West Cork this weekend. The exhibition continues today and tomorrow, 2pm to 5pm.

"The show will include pictures by Richard's mother, too," adds Anne, "who was also an artist."

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