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Saturday 25 November 2017

Museum’s elegance wasted in senators’ ‘intrusion’

First sitting of senators in their temporary location in the Ceramics Room of the National Museum of Ireland. Photo: Maxwells
First sitting of senators in their temporary location in the Ceramics Room of the National Museum of Ireland. Photo: Maxwells
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Fragile, rather precious and some half-cracked, the senators were taken out of their acid-free archival tissue paper and positioned thoughtfully - though without much ceremony - in the Ceramics Room of the National Museum.

We dutifully went along to this avant garde exhibition of empty vessels.

And found, predictably enough, that it was really almost identical to the old display of crocks.

"Where is it?" Super Junior Minister Finian McGrath asked Senator Kevin Humphreys with a slight lack of tact, out on the plinth beforehand.

Disappointingly, there's no need to go past the Bog Bodies or the Ardagh Chalice to get to hear our Upper House representatives these days. Should one wish.

All they've had to do is unlock a door at the top of a small stairwell - and thus unlocking the gateway to a psychedelic Narnia beyond the comprehension of us mortal beings, where many have apparently been turned to stone, just like Mr Tumnus in the story.

No wonder the poor museum staff were actively 'weeping' when the move was announced, according to former museum director Pat Wallace - who called it an "intrusion" on a "sacred place".

"National treasures," insisted Cathaoirleach of the Upper House Senator Denis O'Donovan. But this was a collection of dubious value which the museum was clearly not at all keen on acquiring.

'Temporary,' the Oireachtas has reassured them. It'll take back its bric-a-brac when it's good and ready. If it has the shelf space. And time to dust them. There are all sorts of variables.

But this vital construction work on Leinster House may take some time in any case because it doesn't even seem to have begun. It will be 18 months at least, it seems.

The new accommodation was wasted on them with its lovely proportions, its roof beams and its rather stunning Majolica pottery door surrounds decorated with cherubs and urns brimming with fruit.

They might as well have been in the conference room of a dreary roadside hotel for all the difference it made to them.

Glance

Nobody seemed to even so much as snatch a glance towards all this elegance.

Senators Catherine Noone and Jerry Buttimer took a selfie to mark the occasion. There was a prayer. The Cathaoirleach had a word of thanks for the OPW for its magnificent job and said they were "very grateful" to the museum.

And then they began their Order of Business.

If you listened carefully, you could hear the Bog Bodies - those other mummies - moaning faintly at the prospect of 18 months of this.

Irish Independent

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