UNDERWORLD, oil, 120 x 85 cm
© Fergus A Ryan, 2018
Archaeologists have been working beside our house on several sites dating from the 4th to the 14th century. Artefacts found recently, including a large bronze cloak pin, date from the early Christian period. There is a legend associated with the mound in the background that Maine, the son of Queen Maev (Madb) of Connacht, is buried here (her seven sons were all called Maine), although initial excavations found only 12th- to 14th-century artefacts. Maev is a sovereignty goddess of the Ulster Cycle of Celtic mythology, set around the time of Christ, and may be the source of Shakespeare's fairy queen Mab. During the time this was painted the extreme Irish drought exposed spectacular new archaeological finds from 3000 BC at Newgrange in County Meath, including a huge henge over 100m wide.