Friday 20 April 2018

What lies beneath: Galway Races

Galway Races by Marley Irish, Acrylic, pallet knife on canvas, courtesy of the artis

Galway Races by Marley Irish
Galway Races by Marley Irish

Niall MacMonagle

Ulysses, James Joyce's great democratic work, contains numerous references to horse racing, often hailed as one of the great democratic sports. And yet the gee gees have also been called the sport of kings.

Citizens not subjects, we are Monarch free but Ireland's great tradition in horse-breeding and horse racing flourishes. lists 349 fixtures this year and race meetings bring together the millionaire and the job-seeker, the rock star and the street sweeper.

Fianna Fail did have the good sense to fold away that not-so-democratic tent even if it was where, if we believe Bertie, love stories began. Can't you just imagine the conversation taking a whole new turn at 'Oh, we met in the Galway Tent'?

Today is the last day of the Galway Races. First off at 2.15pm. It's also Mad Hatters Competition as part of Family Day at Ballybrit where 40,000 attended the first race meeting in August 1869.

This painting by Kilkenny-based, self-taught artist Marley Irish captures the adrenaline rush in jockey and spectator as the horses gallop past The Millennium and Killanin Stands.

It's a roar of the crowd painting. Marley Irish is, she says, a people person and loves group performances.

Her main subject matter is sport and ballet and she relishes those moments of extraordinary skill and speed and beauty among rugby and GAA players, ballerinas, jockeys and musicians.

Acrylics, a speedy medium, suit her. And look! A bright blue fresh west-of-Ireland sky, that famous green track (where the last two fences are the closest racecourse fences in the world), the swirling movement create an energised and energising flow.

It's an unusual name but "Marley Irish is my name till I depart my humble artistic life."

When not painting, Irish is "a mother of five who nurses two days a week to make sure we eat well" and also helps "my farmer husband in the daily rural dilemmas of various sorts".

She's had solo shows in Australia, the US, Philippines, Venice and Vienna but she's Irish in every sense.

A rugby-themed exhibition of paintings by Marley Irish will run at the Hibernian Hotel Kilkenny as part of Arts Week.


by Marley Irish

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