Conor McHale Archaeology Cartoon 1

Digging up Bloomsday

‘Hey did you catch Conor’s new Blog?’

‘What? Conor’s not got a blog. I’d have known if Conor had a blog.’

‘I was reading it yesterday.’

‘Eh? Conor Conor or the other Conor?’

‘Not Conor (obviously!) – or the other.

‘Conor the other the other? Didn’t know he was blogging. What’s it like?’

Well… Chances are you haven’t seen it (given that Conor the other the other’s blog is little more than a few weeks old) but it’s fast shaping into one of our favourite archaeological hangouts on the interwebs.

My Cartoon Version of Reality’ (subtitle: jolly rambles from behind the Iron Curtain of truth) slips comfortably – like all archaeological site work – from the sublime to the ridiculous. The blog is ostensibly an illustrated site diary of the ongoing excavations at Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin. Except its not.  Expertly drawn and lyrically rendered, the action spins around a handful of ramshackle characters, temporarily thrown together into the kookiest profession in the pantheon. In this cartoon version of reality, the archaeologists (many of whom are recognisable names to anyone who’s ever worked in Irish archaeology) work cheek by jowl with a heavy mechanicalised city-centre cheese mining operation. It’s that kind of place.

This exchange is typical:

I remember well when the wind howled outside and we huddled together in the tea hut and wee Nially Colfer was nestled on Herr Hayden’s lap and Herr Hayden ruffled wee Nially’s hair and said ‘Will you do a turn.’

‘A what?’ Says Wee Nially.

‘Will you not give us a recitation and you with such a lovely voice dangling off your larynx,’ says Herr Hayden.

‘Oh I won’t,’ says Nially with a blush the colour of a splattered punnet of strawberries.

‘Oh go on do, for all the grand boys and girls here today,’ says Herr Hayden and we all looked at the Colferoo with visages teetering with expectation and sure what could he do but give that fine smile of his and pronounce

‘Begor, in troth I will!’

And with that Herr Hayden slid his shovels of hands under Wee Nially’s uxters and swung him onto the tabletop. Nially first composed himself by dusting the crumbs off his short pants then he lifted his eyes to heaven and gave a look as if the muses were weeping into his very soul. His right hand went onto his hip, his left hand pointed skywards and he then recited his immortal party piece:

‘I’m a little teapot, short and stout . . .’

By the time it had ended there wasn’t a dry eye in the teahut. ‘The Chairman’ Kerins was so enthused by it all he stripped to the waist and bolted out onto the street screaming ‘Ave Maria.’ Truly if and Icelandic Eadda was ever composed with more power in it’s words then I have yet to hear it.

Conor McHale has written and illustrated a number of children’s books, a background that makes him infinitely qualified to write about archaeologists. This may yet go the way of the majority of blogs, and fizzle out after the first flush; but for now at least the posts are coming thick and fast, brought to you in the authors own words ‘through the miracle of Blogoscope!!’

‘At this point in my blogging career’ asks Conor the other the other. ‘I’m beginning to wonder – does anyone actually read this stuff?’

We certainly are now!

More on Dublin’s Meeting Square excavations here… here… and here…

(And happy Bloomsday!)

3 comments

  1. Conor McHale says:

    Many thanks for that liberal dose of praise, it’s cleaned me out lovely. Just a couple of germane points to add. All the drawing were pencilled on site during (lunchbreaks on) the excavations (ended 1st June.) I promised to put the finished products up on the web for anyone who was on site to download (and print and glue to their vestibule walls or wherever worked best for them.) When I put them on the blogspot they looked a little bare so I added text and it just grew out of control and became pleasingly libellous. I’m almost finished putting it all up (we did six and a half weeks work,) after that’s done I’m not sure what happens next.

    I can also hang shelves and get dewy-eyed at the sight of a kilt.

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