My favourite resource this week was a book written by Noel Kissane and published by the National Library of Ireland, back in 198. The book is entitled The Irish Face. I recently purchased a copy for less than €5. It is not exactly a genealogical source, but family history can be found anywhere and in it I came across a name I recognised - Bobby Pyke. My aunt had once mentioned his name.
This little book is about the portrayal of Irish faces down through the ages, starting with the pre-historic stone-carved faces from the period 3000-2500 BC and ending with modern photography. One of my favourite chapters was the ‘Illuminated Manuscripts’, including an illustration of a golden-haired, fair-skinned, Christ from the famous Book of Kells. According to Kissane, there is no evidence that hair was dyed in ninth-century Ireland, but it was sometimes lightened with a bleach of ‘stale urine’ (p. 16). From someone who occasionally lightens my hair, ‘Thank God times have moved on’!
Austin Clarke, by Bobby Pyke (NGI),
Kissane, ‘The Irish Face’, p. 53.
It was the chapter called ‘Alternative Perspectives’, featuring the work of prominent Irish cartoonists, where I found reference to an item of interest to my own family history research. My father’s first cousin, Bobby Pyke, was a cartoonist. His sketch of the famous Irish poet, Austin Clarke, hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland and a copy if it is included in the booklet (p. 53).
My father never met Bobby, nor knew of their relationship. It was my aunt who first mentioned his name. Bobby died in Dublin in 1987; I think it is time we found out some more about him...
To be continued one day…
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