Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Law's an Ass

John Holohan, Chairperson, RDS Speaker Series

This is the man, who introduced the man, who introduced the man, who introduced the speaker, Felix M Larkin.

The occasion was a talk in the RDS last evening (11/11/2015) in the Hugh M Fitzpatrick series of lectures on legal bibliography.

Felix was giving a talk entitled The Asinine Law: Irish Legal Cartoons, c.1800 - 2015.

Hugh M Fitzpatrick initiator of the legal bibliography talks series

Hugh M Fitzpatrick explained how he had hoped to introduce the subject of legal cartoons into the series and finally settled on Felix as speaker as he knew Felix had the knowledge, interest and wit to carry it off.

He in turn introduced the MC for the evening, Peter Feeney, currently the Press Ombudsman.

Peter Feeney, Press Ombudsman

Peter explained that he had to think twice before accepting the invitation in case the subject conflicted with his current job, but he took consolation in the fact that most of the cartoons would be a hundred years old. He may have got a shock when Felix coasted into Martyn Turner territory at the end of the talk, but that's life.

Felix M Larkin, speaker

Felix gave us a great romp through two hundred years or so of legal cartoons. He passed seamlessly from theme to theme with a dazzling selection of cross-fades and segues. The point came across clearly that while they may contain some humour, cartoons are not exclusively funnies. Some can be by way of subtle commentary and others plain downright vicious.

I was very impressed by the quality of some of the cartoons both in their conception and presentation and I was introduced to a load of cartoonists I had never heard of.

I was glad to see the space given to Ernest Forbes (Shemus) on whom Felix is the expert, and also to Ernest Kavanagh, who is only recently getting credit for his hard hitting political cartoons in Jim Larkin's Irish Worker, and finally to Gordon Brewster, a skilled cartoonist in whom I have a particular interest myself. All of these had risked being lost sight of before the current wave of interest in their cartoons.

Felix also drew on the Dublin Opinion, on which he has done some heavy lifting himself in recent times. Besides his recent talk to the Irish Historical Society at Boston College, Dublin, he has contributed a chapter on the Dublin Opinion to the excellent volume on Periodicals and Journalism in Twentieth-century Ireland which he has also edited with Mark O'Brien.

So I'll round off with one of the two Brewster cartoons from the talk. Chief Justice Kennedy is lampooned in the Evening Herald of 27 March 1926 for rejecting the Court Officers Bill which would put court employees under the jursidiction of the Civil Service rather than the courts. The irony being that the bill arose from a recommendation of a committee of which Judge Kennedy had himself been a member.

The talk was delivered with great aplomb to a packed, distinguished and appreciative audience.

1 comment:

Póló said...

I just realised I left Thomas Fitzpatrick out of my list of rediscoveries. Fitzpatrick was editor and contributor to the Lepracaun magazine at the beginning of the twentieth century and Felix opened his talk with one of his cartoons.

I've done a post on the recent launch of an excellent book on Fitzpatrick, his magazine and his cartoons.