Friday, July 4, 2014

Tom Moylan's Irish Art History

Tom Moylan's Irish Art History, from "Work-In-Progress"


            

He’d started out in Ireland in the ‘70s, reporting on court cases and political campaigns and the Troubles. His early reporting life was a round of pubs, agricultural fairs, party political rallies, traffic accidents, the Galway Races, and ribbon-cutting ceremonies, with time out for the odd bomb blast. All the while, like many another journeyman journalist who’d dabbled in art and literature and the like, as he had over his four undergraduate years at Upper Killoyle College, Tom nursed loftier ambitions, relating to literature or art or art history or all three, and indeed flung himself into one or two historical novels, to widespread lack of interest, including his own.

            Then, in ’71, some local lads desirous of impressing the hard men up North raided the Killoyle Art Museum and stole two Paul McGuigan erotic prints for ransom to buy bullets from Gaddhafi. Tom acquired an instant reputation among his peers as an art expert merely by virtue of knowing who Paul McGuigan was, let alone having a vague idea of the artist’s worth on the black market: “Zero. They’ll have to settle for a couple of water pistols for what those daubs fetch,” he opined. He also reckoned they’d confused the artist--a gas fella who ran a bar in Bundoran--with the great French portrayer of Tahitian womanhood. Tom was proven prescient when the etchings were returned three days later with a note reading, “We thought these were by that French fella who did the prossies but this shite’s worthless.”

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