Thomas McNally: Illustrating Joyce’s Finnegans Wake
Saturday 9 June promises to be a fun and illuminating day in Stradbally, Co Laois. It kicks off at 2pm in the Laois Arthouse with an exhibition entitled ‘Illustrating Joyce’s Finnegans Wake’, by Thomas McNally.
Laois artist Thomas McNally has been working on interpreting Finnegans Wake for the last seven years and has published two books of his illustrations with The Lilliput Press (in 2014 and 2018). Both of these books are illustrated editions of the two fables that appear in Finnegans Wake. The first is The Ondt and the Gracehoper, Joyce’s re-telling of Aesop’s ‘The Ant and the Grasshopper’; and the second is The Mookse and the Gripes, Joyce’s version of Aesop’s ‘The Fox and the Grapes’.The exhibition at the Arthouse in Stradbally will consist of McNally’s illustrations of these fables. The drawings and paintings on display will offer visitors a unique perspective on the often bizarre – but always hilarious – world of Joyce’s later writing. McNally’s illustrations strive to capture the humour that is at the heart of Finnegans Wake, and his child-like and colourful illustrations make Joyce’s literary achievement accessible to a much wider audience.
Finnegans Wake is the final novel by James Joyce and is considered to be one of the greatest achievements by any writer in the twentieth century. But since its first publication in 1939, readers have been perplexed by Joyce’s strange and experimental use of language. While Joyce continues to be celebrated as Ireland’s most remarkable writer owing to the success of his other books such as Dubliners and Ulysses, his final novel remains a neglected and poorly-understood masterpiece. The books and illustrations are for sale. The exhibition runs until the 29th June at the Laois Arthouse.
Thomas McNally is an artist and philosopher from Portlaoise. His philosophical publications include the book, Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Language (Cambridge University Press, 2017). He has published two books of illustrations, both with the Lilliput Press: The Ondt and the Gracehoper (2014) and The Mookse and the Gripes (2018).
The opening will be performed by Emmet Byrne. Emmet is a proud Laois man from Ballyroan. He attended both the Ballyroan Boy’s National School and Heywood Community College. Emmet started acting at 21 in the Drama Society in NUI, Galway and completed a MA in Drama and Theatre in 2012. He moved to Dublin to pursue a career and since has acted on stages around Ireland including: The Lime Tree in Limerick, Town Hall Theatre in Galway, The Abbey, Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and The Gaiety in Dublin, and The Royal Opera House in Belfast. Most recently he starred as Sean Bourke in Cell Mates at The Hampstead Theatre, London. He also recently starred in RTÉ’s Striking Out as Ray Lamont.