China – Under The Hood: When there is no will they have ‘Ah Way’ – The fowl art of domesticating a wild chicken in 81 days

 “The critic educates the public. The artist educates the critic”


(Oscar Wilde (Irish Poet, Novelist, Dramatist and Critic, 1854-1900))

When there is no will they have 'A Way' - The fowl art of domesticating a wild chicken in 81 days

They declare that chickens, after thousands of years of domestication, now finally enjoy roosting in branches.

I live in a filthy cage so small I cannot stretch my wings. They wish I were dead: A dead battery chicken. “Useless alive”, They say, and.. I don’t know, soon perhaps I will be dead. Blood pressure and diabetes have an impact on chickens too.

I am a battery chicken. They say “a mentally conflicted chicken”. I say “a battery chicken with a conscience”.

Chinese battery chickens

Even my discourse is more articulate than theirs can ever be….

“…. Despite twenty-two years of harsh domestication, we battery chickens are in actual fact still the wild fowl of our ancestry, with the same passions for openness, free will, candor, and lack of restrictions suited to the tropical surroundings they originated in. June is International Respect for Wild Fowl Month.  Let the earth know how beautiful and essential we battery chickens truly can be..”

“…. Release the battery chickens from their cages

“…. Stop debeaking chickens

“…. Yes chickens are no longer starving, but they still suffer

Thought Reform: The Coercive Art of Passive Persuasion

They don’t like my intense mode of individualism, which, unimaginatively, They perceive as seeking to incite the masses of outwardly blissful chickens. “The illusion of a unique temperament is unbecoming of a chicken”, They ridicule, “too outspoken”.

That’s why They grabbed me and my little brothers: Thrown into trash bags: Welcome to the machine.

They want to strike off my beak with a hot iron.

They scowl they are resolute in their determination to extract my compliance. Oh, we battery chickens know all too well the wide variety of  intimidating methods They employ orchestrating self-indicting and self-reproaching confessions of wrong-doing:

Sleep deprivation and semi starvation.  I am forced to stand night and day for very long periods in conditions of bitter cold on a freezing floor that eventually deadens my feet.  The cage walls continually bruise the elbows of my wings, forming swelling that never seems to mend.  In this trash bag, the air is so full of the choking stench of decay my lungs hurt and my eyes are on fire.

Reducing my mental and physical ability to resist, They want me spent, broken, no fuel to carry on, reduced back to simple ‘battery chicken level’, a nervous gibbering wreck.

Now wholly reliant on my interrogator, my declaration of guilt is merely a feeling of liberation over the endless onslaught.  Next comes their very consistent and very public:

“Because of this chicken’s good attitude in confessing his crimes….”.

Even so, my mind remains observant and my body is aware of a natural desire so strong: The freedom to socialise, even in a farmyard, with my like-minded flock, practicing my critical spirit, expressing my nature, looking at the stars.

I am not a spent chicken. I want to be richly feathered.

Say I am wonderful.

Don’t let me be misunderstood.

Shane Reihill: A quiet man, a gentle man a straightforward and honest man

What a deep sense of sorrow to hear of Shane’s passing.

The less than 50 words notice of his death in today’s Irish Times, three days after a heart-attack at a Health Services Executive (HSE) -run sheltered housing facility portray a mere name, a faceless statistic. Shane was so much more: A quiet man, a gentle man a straightforward and honest man:  As decent a man one could ever hope to meet.   Heart-rending are the circumstances that was Shane’s fifty-two years, solitude having become a life sentence.

I have superb abiding memories of First Cousin Shane: A man of considerable, largely unnurtured, artistic talent. The Texaco Children’s Art Competition award he won at St Michael’s College, Ailesbury Road,  back in the 1970s being an early indication of such ability, Shane went on to UCD where he attained the Degree of Bachelor of Architecture, a source of great satisfaction for his beloved mother Maureen ( and sister Orla.  Recently, Shane painted two miniature exquisite, yet simple, water colour paintings for my Mother, ‘Auntie Kath’. Shane, they will always take pride of place in our house.

Then there was Shane in green overalls fixing show-jumping fences at the Dublin Horse Show’s Aga Khan Cup, a dream summer job. Another memory is Christmas Dinner at our house, a paper hat on his head, a big cigar in his mouth… he was only 17.

He was the first person to call me Nailer.

Shane, Auntie Kath, William, Conor and Nailer are greatly saddened you have departed this world, but we know you will surely rest in peace.

Vivid Memories..

Exhibition of Irish Oil Paintings by ‘Take Five’ Artists

Bluebell Wood by Kathryn O'Reilly
Bluebell Wood by Kathryn O’Reilly

Dear Artist.

An artist is defined as someone whose creative work shows aesthetic feeling and imagination.  That’s all nothing more, nothing less.

I am not an artist.

Yet I am judgemental and critical about so many artistic matters. Moreover, I have even feigned to provide advice to people who are much much further down the road of colours, sounds, shapes and movements than I will ever be.

I simply don’t have the human condition which relates to the known and unknowns that you have. Truly it takes an artist such as you to guide the rest of us on the journey.

I wish I could paint. I really wish I could paint

I consider the displaying of your works at the ‘Take Five’ Artists Exhibition to be a really big deal. I know you don’t expect too much.  I know you don’t really want to part with any of your paintings.

What ever happens, just keep in mind you don’t have to prove anything to anyone, you started painting long before you ever heard of this exhibition, and you will continue to be an artist and make art long after this association has passed, because you get immense personal pleasure from it, and because you are a dream-maker.

Congratulations Mum!

Exhibition by ‘Take Five’ Artists entitled “Points of View”

Venue: Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre, Castle Street, Dalkey,

Time / Date: 19.00hrs, 3rd October 2007