With a name like Donnelly, you’d think I would have visted Ireland before now, but this last week was my first trip. It won’t be my last, that I know.
I was only able to visit Dublin, and only caught a fraction of the city in drawings. It is definitely a people city. The buildings are beautiful, as is the River Liffey, but I think it’s the people who are the stars. There is a warmth and attentiveness to the Irish. They are paying attention to the world, it seems to me. I was told they are very engaged with global politics and passionate about their own. Many in Ireland are deeply religious — I don’t find the combination of political awareness and faith paraoxical, but rather complicated. And the Irish are complicated! There are — and have been historically, of course — many poets, writers, musicians, humorists, storytellers of note. The people who look for meaning in life with their art.
In the late 1700’s my ancestor Peter Donnelly emmigrated from Moneghan County, just north of Dublin. During my visit, I found myself constantly seeking a connection with the Irish. Is this why I am a cartoonist — i.e. a story teller, in short form, sort of like poetry? I found the Irish to be at once light and funny, and the other hand dark and introspective. Is this why I love the combination of humor an serious?
Also on my mind this week — in part because of the news events in the United states about immigration — was the fact that I am the product of immigrants. With the exception of Native Americans, we are all immigrants. Let’s hope this administration stops being so cruel towards those who came here — like so many of our ancestors— looking for a better life.
When I draw a city, I try to connect with what I feel the city is about. For me in just a few days in Dublin, I felt most strongly about the people and the humble dwellings I saw. I drew mostly the old, but there was a lot of new, and much new construction. It’s a growing city, and I look forward to returning and drawing more. And then there are the famous Dublin doors, which I can’t help feeling are symbolic of something: almost always colorful, they represent new, bright openings.
On to new things.