Creativity Reviewing Practice

The Leprachaun

The thought of artis­tic inher­i­tance goes way back in our fam­i­ly. My great-grand­fa­ther Thomas Fitz­patrick ran and illus­trat­ed a pub­li­ca­tion called “The Lep­ra­caun Car­toon Month­ly”. For the pub­li­ca­tion of the book Thomas Fitz­patrick and ‘The Lep­ra­caun Car­toon Month­ly’, 1905–1915” the authors asked Dad and I to get involved. For this, Dad wrote the intro­duc­tion and I illus­trat­ed my own take on the orig­i­nal cov­er from 1905.

Look­ing at the his­to­ry of 1905, the pos­si­ble polit­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal moti­va­tions behind Thomas’ illus­tra­tion, it is sur­pris­ing how lit­tle has changed. Ire­land is still recov­er­ing from finan­cial cat­a­stro­phe, almost as if noth­ing had hap­pened, mer­ri­ly led gen­tly down the stream by crooked politi­cians, all under the watch­ful eye of the Euro­pean Par­la­ment and Angela Merkel.

Between 1905 and 1915 The Lep­ra­caun Car­toon Month­ly sat­i­rized soci­ety and pol­i­tics in Dublin and beyond. Its pro­pri­etor, edi­tor and chief car­toon­ist Thomas Fitz­patrick (1860–1912), already had a dis­tin­guished career draw­ing for lead­ing pub­li­ca­tions in Dublin and Lon­don, includ­ing Nation, Nation­al Press and Week­ly Free­man and Irish Peo­ple. Fitzpatrick’s car­toons coun­tered Punch’s ape-like Irish­man with the upright and noble fig­ure of ‘Pat’, and his sharp pen pre­sent­ed senior British fig­ures in an unfor­giv­ing light. The Lep­ra­caun Car­toon Month­ly, how­ev­er, gave his per­cep­tive wit a far broad­er can­vas. Politi­cians and pub­li­cans, cler­ics and suf­fragettes, trade union­ists and boss­es were all fair game – nor did the man in the street escape his crit­i­cal eye. This col­lec­tion of works from The Lep­ra­caun gives fresh insights into Irish life in an over­looked peri­od. From caus­tic com­men­taries on women’s fash­ion to the high pol­i­tics of Home Rule car­toons by Fitz­patrick and oth­ers reveal a self-con­fi­dent mid­dle-class Ire­land, hop­ing for polit­i­cal change but weary of Redmond’s Irish Par­lia­men­tary Par­ty. As Irish soci­ety came to terms with motor cars, elec­tric­i­ty and the prospect of votes for women Fitz­patrick and his car­toon­ists in The Lep­ra­caun were on hand to illus­trate injus­tices, punc­ture pom­pos­i­ty and high­light the ridicu­lous. Intro­duc­to­ry essays on Thomas Fitzpatrick’s life and career, and on the social and polit­i­cal con­text of the times, com­ple­ment the detailed com­men­taries which accom­pa­ny each image.”