Ear to the Ground Winter 2015

Page 156


Horse drawn DUBLIN ARTIST PATRICK CAHILL REFLECTS ON A BYGONE DUBLIN AND IN PARTICULAR THE SMITHFIELD HORSE FAIR, THE UNIQUE EVENT THAT INSPIRED SOME OF HIS MOST FAMOUS PAINTINGS. In the 1980s, artist Patrick Cahill came upon the Smithfield Horse Fair. A graphic artist by trade and subsequently a fulltime painter, he used to get up early on Sunday mornings when the city’s streets were silent to sketch, uninterrupted. It was one such morning when one of the ‘jarveys’ at St Stephen’s Green became his subject. “I came across a fella with a pony and trap outside Stephen’s Green and I started drawing him. I didn’t know then but the Dublin City Corporation used to give licences to these horse-drawn tourist carriages and he thought I was someone from the social welfare watching; he came over to me and said, ‘what’re you doing? Are you from the social welfare?’ I told him I was an artist and interested in painting him and his horse, and he ended up telling me about the fair at Smithfield where he’d gotten the horse.” A born-and-bred Dubliner Patrick had never heard of the fair and imagines most hadn’t, unless they had business there. Curious, he went along. “It was barely a fair. There were only a small handful of people, about three horseboxes and two farriers. I was very interested in the farriers,” he recalls. “Smithfield was derelict then but it was very picturesque; for me it was a great source of inspiration for painting.” Smithfield, just north of Dublin’s centre, was laid out in the mid-17th century as a marketplace primarily for cattle and hay and occasionally horses; the square was lined with inner-city


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