Monday, February 23, 2015

The Lepracaun

Larry O'Toole
Click any image for a larger version

Old Cartoons are becoming the in thing. In recent times we have had two books on important cartoonists in Ireland: Felix Larkin's Terror and Discord: The Shemus Cartoons in the Freeman’s Journal, 1920–1924 (Ernest Forbes), and James Curry's Artist of the Revolution (Ernest Kavanagh). I have done a talk in NLI on the cartoons of Gordon Brewster. And now we have another book on those of Thomas Fitzpatrick which appeared in his own publication The Lepracaun which ran over the period 1905-1915.

And a fine book it is too. It is beautifully produced with a foreword by Jim FitzPatrick, an account of the life of Thomas Fitzpatrick and his satirical publication, The Lepracaun, and a fine selection of very well presented cartoons with explanatory commentaries setting their context. I have to confess I have only skimmed it so far but am looking forward very much to digging into it.

The book was launched last Thursday evening (19/2/2015) by Larry O'Toole, Deputy Dublin Lord Mayor (above), and you could see his heart was in it. Fitzpatrick's cartoons demolished pretentiousness, lampooned vested interests and cut very quickly to the political chase. A man after Larry's own heart.

Ciarán Wallace

He was followed by Ciarán Wallace, one of the books two authors, who gave us a run down on the cartoons themselves and convinced us that their target was virtually anything that moved. No element of society, and particularly of the body politic was spared.

James Curry

James Curry, the other author, gave us a run down on the life and times of Thomas Fitzpatrick who was a very interesting fellow, well suited to running a satirical magazine and producing its quality cartoons himself.

Jim FitzPatrick

Thomas's grandson, Jim FitzPatrick, told us some more about his grandfather but he was clearly thrilled at the amount of new material revealed by the authors' research. Yes, that is Jim (Che Guevara Poster) FitzPatrick (if you haven't already clicked on his name above) and one of the big thrills for him was to find how much of his own style he may have owed to his grandfather though he had been totally unaware of this until faced with the information and pictures in the book.

Conánn FitzPatrick

Jim said he fairly chucked the cartoon path himself as he was no good at it but told us that the tradition is carried down through his own son Conánn who could toss off a good cartoon at the drop of a hat. The book's frontespiece, based on the cover of the original Lepracaun, and produced by Conánn, looks like a cross between Alice in Wonderland and a modern animation film. This is not surprising as Conánn is a lecturer in digital animation at the University of Ulster.

The book is published as part of Dublin City Council's contribution to the Decade of Commemorations, 1913 - 1923. The series editors are those two stalwarts of the Dublin historical scene: Mary Clarke and Máire Kennedy. The book is available from Four Courts Press

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