Thursday, 18 June 2009

Ireland's contribution to European Celtic culture

Today I would like to celebrate one of the greater achievements in my artistic career.
2007 was a pretty good year for me in many ways and it began with my winning of the competition run by the Central Bank of Ireland to design a commemorative coin.

The theme was Ireland's Contribution to European Celtic Culture and this is the result.

For a start i thought about what Irish people are like. Very welcoming and articulate. i chose to use a typical Celtic interlace design and created four figures who are all very animatedly talking and communicating with one another. they are also reaching out to each other. As well as communication this might also be seen as a dance - another great Irish tradition.

To give a further layer of meaning to an already complicated design I also thought about four specific things that the Irish are known for.

One of the figures carries a book - which represents the literary culture of ireland
the next carries a violin - representative of the musical culture
another carries a shovel - this represents the huge amount of labour that Ireland has provided to Europe and indeed the rest of the world
and the last carries a laptop with a swirling mouse - this stands for modern technology which was of course booming during the Celtic Tiger period. Which incidentally was just about to come to a crunch at that time - although none of us knew it then - we were still riding high on the crest of that wave even though the credit crunch was merely months away.

But that is me musing in retrospect - at that time Ireland and its influence in Europe was definitely booming.

If you want to view the coin on the Central Bank website you can go to:
You can also still purchase the coin if you wish from there. It was minted in both silver and gold.

It was not the first time I entered this national competition. Prior to winning I had been shortlisted twice - once in 2000 and the second time in 2006. So this was an absolutely brilliant high, after trying so hard for so long.

Once the design was okayed I had nothing else to do except to turn up at the launch of the coin later in the year - I am trying to think when it was now, August or September. What I do remember about that day is the fact that two of my friends came up with me in the train from Cork to Dublin. My son attended - as he was living in Dublin at the time, several other of my Dublin based friends attended, another friend drove all the way from Belfast and my beloved Vic flew in from the UK to make sure that I was well supported. I felt deeply honoured!

Did i tell you why he was in the UK at that particular time? Well it is a long story, but I will keep it short for now, in any event most of it is his story, so he should tell it really.

He was living in Cork at the time but had no suit with him - he did some sums and worked out that it would be cheaper for him to go home and collect one from his house. So, very mysteriously, he crept off the evening before, got home, picked his suit out and basically turned around and got the first flight back to Dublin. Here he spent the day at Collin's Barracks - where the presentation was taking place, and by the time I got there in the evening, excited and slightly nervous he was pretty much a fixture on the Museum scene. He was known by all the staff from the director to the janitor and when I rolled in through the gates I was greeted by one of the organisers with the words "Vic is here!" as if he was the guest of honour! Of course I did not mind at all. He was indeed there and he put me very much at my ease on a night when my natural shyness meant that my heart was nearly jumping out of my throat.

It turned out to be a magic sort of evening and then we all got the train back to Cork - a lot of travel for a few short hours, but high on the moment I did not feel a bit of it!

So there - that is the story of the winning of the competition of the Central Bank Coin.

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