An artist’s response to the Offaly scientist John Joly

From Krakatoa to Clonbullogue! Notes on the microscopical character of Krakatoa: An artist’s response to the Offaly scientist John Joly

On Monday 10 August, Dr Ciarán Reilly launched the ‘Secrets of Offaly’ project, a multidisciplinary commission, which, using the expertise of professional visual artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers, theatre practitioners, dancers and more, highlights some of the hidden history of Offaly’s villages. Following an open call for applications three villages and their secrets were chosen: the Jolys of Clonbullogue; Rex Ingram of Kinnitty and the Goodbodys of Clara. One of those commissioned by the ‘Secrets of Offaly’ project was Amanda Rice, who has been artist in residence in Trinity College Dublin engaging with artefacts and objects bequeathed to the college by the Offaly scientist and geologist John Joly (1857-1933). In her piece Rice presents an interactive public art work in Clonbullogue Community Centre which focuses on one particular aspect of John Joly’s research on the Indonesian volcano of Krakatoa which first erupted in 1883.

Launching the Joly exhibition in Clonbullogue, Dr Reilly, who has written about the Joly Family and their estate in Offaly particularly during the Famine years, said that Amanda had ‘found a very novel way of interpreting archival material and presented a story which young and old could enjoy’. Highlighting the importance of the family in Irish history, Dr Reilly alluded to the fact that the Joly famine diaries are amongst the most important accounts of life in Ireland during the 1840s. The diarist in question John Plunket Joly was the father of the geologist. In concluding, Dr Reilly complemented Offaly County Council on the choice of the three commissioned pieces, and added that a study of these three families will also add greatly to the on-going commemorations which take place during ‘Decade of Centenaries’, owing to the varied experiences of the families during this period.

For more on the Joly family and Dr Reilly’s research see: