My Favourite Piece of Art
The piece of art I love most is a print that hangs on the wall in my own house. ‘The Tiaracht Waiting for God’ is its title and it was the master artist, Tomás Ó Cíobháin from Gráig on the Dingle peninsula, who created it more than 20 years ago. It’s an ink print. The sea is drawn from dark blue-black ink; she is troubled enough under the light of the moon, and the island of Tiaracht (Westerness) stands up sorrowful, solitary, lonely. It’s the furthest west of the Blasket Islands, off the coast of Corca Dhuibhne in West Kerry.
This special print was a present from the artist, and it was made in payment for me playing music for himself and his family on the occasion of his daughter Áine’s 21st birthday. It was a big night of music and celebration in the Spailpín Fánach pub that I’ll never forget. I sang my heart out and I rocked the joint. “How can I pay you for this?” asked Tomás of me. “Give me a picture” I said. And he did. “But I challenge you, John,” he said, “to make a new piece of art out of it.”
Interestingly, it was from a line of a poem by Seán Ó Ríordáin that Tomás got the title. A line from a poem that escaped into a beautiful picture, and that will fly up into a song later on, when the time comes. This is my favourite piece of art in the world, more than any famous picture on the walls of the Louvre. It looks down on me boldly and challengingly and says to me, “Be composing, John. Be composing, composer.” Time will tell. I do not know if it is in me to compose a new piece of art that would be of the same standard as Seán Ó Ríordáin and Tomás Ó Cíobháin.