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Title: Molly Kearney's Wake

Title of artwork:
Molly Kearney's Wake
Fitzgerald, William
Paper (fiber material), Ink
Wood engraving
Bolton, T
Title of Publication:
The talk of the road
Partridge and Co.
Publication place:
Publication date:
Curator Comment:
The full title of this publication is ‘The talk of the road: showing how Irish people talk about Irish doings when they get a quiet place at the back of a ditch or under a hedge’. Written from a prejudiced protestant view-point, the text is a comparative discussion on the differences between those of the protestant religion (the landed class) and those of the Roman Catholic persuasion (peasant class) in nineteenth century Ireland. First issued in Dublin in 1854, this illustrated edition of 1876 was printed in London, Dublin and Edinburgh. The narrative reads as a series of encounters and is threaded with examples of local Hiberno-English vernacular and customs. The illustrations reflect the tone of publication.
Note on artwork:
Here the main character of ‘Talk of the Road’ takes the opportunity to attend the wake of a Catholic tenant. He is clearly not welcome as he is ‘ushered’ out of the house. The illustrator Fitzgerald has composed an image of extreme characterization and reaction for comedic effect – from the central, threatening brutish male, to the suspicious-looking figures within the cottage interior, to the visibly shocked, yet refined physiognomies of the narrative’s hero and his companion. The cramped impoverished interior is filled with hackneyed Irish-Catholic peasant paraphernalia; from the chicken indoors, to a traditional sugan chair with a clay pipe below it and a bottle of alcohol to the side, to the cloth covered eyes of the corpse and prayer beads held by the female character, all carefully outlined by the artist.

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