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A terrific tandem of talent 

by Edited by Jimmy Rhatigan

TWO leading Kilkenny artists are to launch a long-awaited book of poetry and drawings.

The collection titled Pictures and Poetry is by Daithi Holohan and Jim Murray, both of whom havebattled mental illness for decades while pursuing their creative dreams.

After completing his studies at the National College of Art and Design Daithi went on to enchant the city and county with his drawings. 

He excels as a portraitist but regardless of medium, theme or subject he succeeds in plumbing the depths of his own sub-consciousness and capturing the essence of whoever he’s drawing.

When he taught Life Drawing in Liberties Vocational School pupils felt they’d got a teacher who could relate to their own struggles and ‘take’ on the challenge of modern Ireland.

Daithi’s drawings are displayed in pubs and clubs around Kilkenny and his exhibitions have drawn throngs of admirers. Critical acclaim has inevitably followed him wherever his work appeared.

He’s also a poet. The drawings and poetic reveries included in the book offer an insight into a long artistic journey and a dizzying range of life experiences.

Aside from art, Daithi is known locally as a lifelong Republican and fluent Irish speaker. He has a special devotion to the legacies of Pearse and Connolly, to preserving all aspects of Gaelic culture, and is a passionate advocate of a United Ireland, “free from sea to sea.”

He contested the 2015 Carlow Kilkenny by-election and famously appeared on TV3’s Tonight with Vincent Browne programme

People still recall his virtuoso performance as he tackled the other candidates and put forward his own vision of an Ireland “of equals”, with the border gone and all wealth distributed fairly among the people.

Daithi spoke his mind fearlessly.

Throughout his career Daithi has managed to keep the ravages of bipolar disorder at bay, never letting it detract from his calling as an artist.

He has known poet Jim Murray for years and is delighted at the prospect of a book that weaves together drawing and poetry.

Jim Murray has survived one of the worst illnesses to afflict the human mind: Schizophrenia, and like Daithi he has stubbornly refused to capitulate to what he sees as a sustained attack on his existence. 

He believes that writing as a therapy has helped him as much in his fight for wellness as any medication or stint in a psychiatric hospital. 

Some of his poems reflect or hint at his long incarceration in that ‘Gulag of the Sou’ from which the pen has mercifully and magically granted him relief.

His poetry explores every conceivable theme… life, love, death, war, nature, marriage, the medical profession, the solar system, the afterlife, and the multitude of alternative scenarios offered by religions of all kinds. 

He’s at his lyrical best when he sets forth the depths to which humans can sink in betrayal of their own kind.

Jim has hundreds of notebooks full of poetry and ideas for composition. He could be sitting in a café sipping a cup of tea when inspiration strikes. 

He jots down the words immediately before they vanish like a wisp of smoke.

Or he might get an idea in a dream and then record it on awakening. Not a day passes without him gifting a poem to the world via Facebook, Thousands follow his poetic meanderings online.

His previous works Orchestra of Poems and his short story collection Digging a  Hole on the River which  received popular and critical acclaim, hailed the triumph of compassion over darkness in his own life and the world in general. These are still on sale locally.Poetry and Pictures will be launched at the Butts Hall at 7pm on July 3.  Everyone welcome.

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