The Last Days on the Islands
Last Days on the Islands focuses on a pair of remote islands off the Erris coast in Mayo, close to Hughie O'Donoghue's family home. The islands became uninhabited from about 1930 after a tragic accident at sea claimed most of the male population. The artist's principle preoccupation is memory; what is retained, what is lost, what is inherited. Using his familiar technique of constructing images with layer upon layer of tone, the faces of these island folk solidify into the landscape. Man and nature; equal partners in each other's world. The small scale works bring the viewer fact to face with the individual as if being interviewed by the past.
The story of the islanders, who certainly hailed from the mainland originally, somehow mirrors the artist's own journey. He, too, moved from one larger island to a smaller one. Hughie O'Donoghue's narrative device is always employed to search for meaning in his own identity. The stories he tells reveal, ultimately, more about himself than the subject with which he engages. No one today describes Irish themes with more profundity using a paintbrush.