- Cover Note
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Robert Ballagh (1943–). Mise Éire. Oil on Canvas. 30 x 40 cm. The image appears courtesy of the artist.
One of Ireland's most renowned and innovative artists, throughout a career spanning over forty years, Ballagh has skillfully, movingly, and provocatively reflected many aspects of modern Ireland—its politics, culture, and history. His work has encompassed Pop Art, stamp and banknote design, theatrical stage sets and incisive portraiture. He has courageously demonstrated a consistent commitment to free inquiry and speech, and there is a humaneness and radical wit that goes to the core of all his work.
Never one to shy away from contemporary political issues and controversies, he has said "You hope your paintings will transcend their time but they must be of their time as well." Mise Éire is a response to what Ballagh sees as the undemocratic ramming of the Lisbon Treaty (the European Constitutional Reform Treaty) through the European Union. Ireland will be the only country to vote in a referendum on the issue in June 2008. It is also an image that raises issues of central relevance to Ireland over the last three decades—the effectiveness of government, the changes that EU membership has brought about economically, socially, and politically for Ireland, the concerns about its impact on democratic accountability and national identity, and the place of the individual in society. [End Page 10]