By Randall Stephen Hall
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJLtNM1FQI0
In 1997-1998 I was visiting the newly completed Waterfront Hall. I wandered into the central concert hall. A big circular space. I noticed a man leaning up against the edge of a railing, taking a look as well. We stood for a while just looking at the space and all its potential.
Eventually we got into a conversation. I looked a bit different then. Cropped hair with a rainbow coloured checked shirt and a red beard. Paddy was an engaging man to speak to. A semi-retired Irish journalist (do they ever really retire?). Over from “the mainland” and, on a mission.
He had set up the Irish Parliament Trust in Armagh to promote the idea of a new all Ireland Parliament, based at Trim in the Boyne Valley, not far from Drogheda and New Grange, where the Winter Solstice is still celebrated, beyond the confines of any modern religion. He was a man with a vision too.
As our conversation developed the idea formed in his mind to commission me to amplify the idea as a map. I suggested an illustrated map, a talking picture. We struck a deal and I began to think about it, but only after a research trip to the place itself, The Boyne Valley. A great day out.
Good company with lots of work done to stimulate the brain cells.
The months passed and the map evolved, through different stages into the completed map
contained in this Irish Parliament Trust video. Paddy gave me quite a free hand in what i was to do, so I based the building on the Tara Brooch, putting in wee jokes here and there like King James and King William battling it out at the Boyne River or Father Ted and Dougal marvelling at the New Parliament from the bus, on a day out Craggy Island.
I presented the map to Paddy at Navan, Emain Macha. He was very pleased. We both were.
It’s funny what can come from a hand shake and a chance meeting.
The map would form the centre piece of an informative magazine to be distributed to Secondary School Pupils in the counties on either side of the border. Eventually the original map was presented to The Linenhall Library, Belfast, where it is still displayed in the reference section, up the stone steps and winding wooden staircase, to the third floor.
Twenty years ago Paddy was on a mission and he has never really deviated from that intent.
He is still focused on these fresh ideas. Just one of many, seeing beyond the boundaries and borders we find in Ireland today.
It was a pleasure to work with Paddy McGarvey and to help add to his imagine-a-nation.
Randal Stephen Hall 25.2.19