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"Peep was installed with the video piece 'Would you die for Ireland' (2013) Show first in the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris and then The Lab gallery Dublin, Garter Lane, Waterford and at Cruthú Arts Festival Longford.

It is a viewing booth wherein the viewer is invited to present a coin to a slot which mechanically opens a window revealing a silk tri-colour flag fluttering to the National Anthem. The piece responds to the Irish flag’s origins. Modeled on the banner of the French Republic the first tricolour of green, white and orange was made in Paris of pure silk in1846 by a group of French women sympathetic to the Irish cause and presented to Young Irelander Thomas Francis Meagher. Peep references my earliest memories of seeing the flag at Gaelic football matches in Belfast’s Casement Park with my Father in the 1960’s. The GAA it seems had an unspoken exemption from a Northern Ireland Government Act effectively banning the Irish flag.

So these encounters with this high flying, pristine and exotic alignment of colours flown against the green Belfast hills instilled a certain excitement in my young and impressionable self that I have compared to an erotic experience. Peep also speaks of the fantasy of nationhood emblems of state represent. In the case of Ireland, the illusive harmony between Green and Orange.......

“I wasn’t sure growing up whether I was straight….Irish or slightly bi…national. We watched BBC2. I was interested in other flags and emblems, but it was the tricolour that really got me aroused. You saw so few of them. They were censored, hard to get and when you did see one you’d really drool over it….Would you look at the colours on that! We stood erect to her anthem. On first hearing the English version of Amhrán na bhFiann I thought the first line was ‘Soldiers are wee’…why wouldn’t they be?.. Then I discovered it was ‘Soldiers are we’, us collectively. But then that was confusing because in my experience soldiers were they. They were soldiers we were wee" From A Border Worrier, John Byrne 1997


Click her for VAI review"

An Ghaeltacht 1972

Re-enactment fom memory. 2016

"As a 12 year old, in the summer of 1972 I went to the Gaeltacht in Gweedore, County Donegal. I’d heard lots of stories before going and was excited by the prospect of swimming in the sea, climbing mountains, céilís and meeting girls.

Our group, Christian Brothers boys from west Belfast arrived in a place called Dunlewey, which I’d never heard of until then. The tales of céilís and kissing girls had emanated from Bunbeg, Derrybeg, and Meenaclady. So, it turned out that this was the first year Dunlewey, remotely located at the foot of Mount Errigal, had hosted students. Our fellow pioneering scholars were De La Salle boys also from Belfast and CBS lads from Omagh. But no girls, apart from the few locals who would occasionally peep out from behind ditches or trees, well out of chatting up range. I was very disappointed. Getting on with the other boys involved a lot of bravado, turf riots, fishing, competing over who could swim out the furthest on Dunlewey Lough and smoking. All the toughest fellas smoked and I made a serious effort to join them but I couldn’t, it made me sick.

Another way of attaining some status was to shoplift on trips to the coast. I was of course taught that stealing was wrong but being a slightly posh nonsmoker felt more wrong. So on a day out to Bunbeg I lifted a bouquet of little tricolours from the counter of a souvenir shop. Quickly leaving the shop I panicked at the prospect of being sent home in shame and ran and hid behind a wall. I’m not sure how long I hid there for but it could’ve been an hour waiting for the return journey. As time passed I became less nervous anticipating the great impression I’d make on my fellow students.

I vaguely remember covertly distributing flags in the minibus but I can’t recall whether anyone was impressed. It’s the hiding I remember."

Easter 1968

Bernard Byrne explains the significance of the bullet holes in Dublin’s GPO to his family 2016

"(Reenactment from memory) On Easter weekend 1968 my family came on a short family holiday from Belfast to Dublin, my first memory of the city. We all stayed in one room in a guesthouse overlooking what was then The Cattle Market on the North Circular Road. There were 6 of us then, my father Bernard (Barney) my mother Úna, my sisters Claire and Róisín, myself and my brother Vincent. My mother was expecting my youngest brother, Tony.

During the trip I remember visiting the Zoo, Moore Street, being impressed by the neon signs around O’Connell Street and having a Knickerbocker Glory in a place called The Irish Steakhouse beside O’Connell Bridge.

I particularly remember my father pointing out the bullet holes on the pillars of the GPO. I was very impressed by this, a first encounter with physical evidence of war and war loomed very large in my imagination then. Like most young boys I read war comics, played at war, cowboys and indians (sic) and had a considerable stash of toy soldiers and plastic armaments. Unbeknown to my parents who were both then ambitious and in their prime, we were soon to find ourselves in the midst of a new war that would drastically alter their plans.

By 1971 my father was forced out of his grocery business and my mother, a trained nurse went back to nursing because of a shortage of staff in the hospitals. There were medical supplies under the beds in our house given to her by a local vigilante group for fear of what was yet to happen. On occasion we all took to the carpet in the living room in case of a ricochet when gunfire sounded close. This seemed unlikely to me in our out of the way cul-de-sac but a gable wall around the corner had been hit. I’d seen the bullet hole and I knew bullet holes.

My father knew Dublin a bit in 1968, mostly from his trips down to watch football matches. He seemed to know where to get his ‘on-holiday treat’, a mixed grill. This, though, was the first time he’d driven down in our grey Morris Minor and he was always lost and asking directions. “Much obliged to you”, he’d say each time when put right as we drove off to get lost again. "



"Steel frame clad in vitreous enamel panels. A permanent work. Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, County Dublin."

Good Works


"A collaborative performance supported by the International Fund for Ireland, Cavan County Council and the Arts Council’s Artist in the Community Scheme managed by Create. 'Good Works' was originally performed in Cavan Cathedral with The Palestrina Choir in August 2012 and included readings from curator Karen Downey and Kevin McAleer.

The subsequent performance in November 2012 in the Chapel, The Royal Hospitall Kilmainham (IMMA) featured the combined choirs of the Carlow Choral Society and The Dublin Bach Singers with their director Blánaid Murphy, widely recognised as one of Ireland's pre-eminent choral educators,. Good Works premieres new Art Hymns by Byrne, scored by Elaine Agnew. "

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Casting Light

Architectural Projection 2010

"Casting Light was a visual spectacle in the form of highly luminous projections onto the façade of the Ulster Bank in the centre of Cavan town which in conjunction with Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2010 and then in updated form in 2011. This custom made, animated video imagery on the theme of contemporary Ireland was architecturally mapped onto the period building's façade. The event ran nightly from dusk until dawn for the duration of the Fleadh 16th - 22nd August. (2010)

John together with DV4 (Dublin) and Cavan Arts Office were awarded a Business to Arts award presented by President Mary McAleese in 2011

Click Here for Video of Casting Light 2012"

Ballymun Equestrian Project


- Misneach. A Monumental Celebration of Youth.
"John was commissioned to make an artwork through 'Breaking Ground' as part of the regeneration of Ballymun. From the beginning of 2006 he researched ways to realise a large horse and rider sculpture depicting a young female bareback rider to be erected permanently on a plinth in Ballymun. Early in the year he sourced an existing equestrian monument in Northumberland, England but originally sited in Dublin's Phoenix Park (The Gough Memorial). This had been sculpted by the well-known Irish artist John Henry Foley whose other work included The O'Connell Monument, statues of Goldsmith and Burke outside Trinity College and The Albert Memorial in London. "

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- Smokers, 2008
"Smokers' was a project undertaken with composer Stephen Gardner who provided the sound track. It marks the early 21st centuary banishment of smokers to the great outdoors in Ireland, having been a pioneer of the practice. It was shot over one November day in and around Dublin. A 'Red Camera' was used which produces very high definition imagery thus enabling it to be projected 'cinema-scale'. It was premiered in The Cube at The Project in Dublin's Temple in December 2008."

Believers 2005


"This was a video / performance piece made during the ‘Criteria Residency’ facilitated through The Arts Office in Cork City. The work is performed with Actress and Life Model Jennifer Walls. Featuring the Classical iconography of the traditional visual arts (the still Life and reclining nude) it plays with the idea of faith in art and wallows in the language of Art Discourse as a relentless mantra.

Click Here for Video of Believers' "

Dublin's Last Supper


"In late 2003 John was approached by curator, Cliodhna Shaffrey and asked to come up with a proposal for a large public artwork to be installed in an outdoor space at a new development adjacent to The River Liffey in central Dublin. "

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Would You Die For Ireland?


- Would You Die for Ireland?
"In 2003 The Robert Emmet Society commissioned a number of contempory Irish artists to respond to the revolutionary period 1798- 1803, on the occasion of the bi-centenary of Robert Emmet's death in 1803. Dublin's Kilmainham Gaol (now a kind of Interpretative Centre) was the venue for the show entitled 'Dearcadh'. Many of the artists, like John, used cells in the large central area of the prison for their individual pieces. "

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Imagine Belfast 2008


"In 2002 John was commissioned to make a number of images for Belfast’s bid to be European City of Culture in 2008. He made a number of ‘proto-types’ with a view to presenting them eventually as mural or billboard images Here are a few."

The Border Interpretative Centre

No Subtitle 2000

- The Border Itself
"The idea of establishing a Border Interpretative Centre for the new millennium came from a line in "The Border Worrier" (1997). I obtained the use of this simple building, which had been a small shop located right on the border itself on the main Dublin-Belfast road. I was supported in all this by Norah Norton, then director of The Temple Bar Gallery. "

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Earlier Work

"Earlier performance based work was generally autobiographical monologue, often in the style of a stand-up. These monologues were punctuated and illustrated by projected backdrops. See some examples here. "

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Comedy work with Kevin McAleer


- Bigots, 1994

- The Restaurant, 1998
"Kevin and John have been friends since meeting in London in the mid eighties. They worked together in Fringe Theatre and Comedy venues around London and through the early to mid nineties they co-wrote and made a number of television recordings for BBC Nortnern Ireland and RTE. Here are a couple of examples "

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For more information and enquiries, please contact: info@john-byrne.ie

All images, text & content is the intellectual property of John Byrne (www.john-byrne.ie)
and any use without the artist's expressed consent is copyright infringement.