signed ‘Long’ Presented by the artist, 1946
R. J. (Dickie) Long had an ambitious vision for Clonmel and worked unremittingly to realize it. The son of a Cork cabinetmaker with connections to the Fenian leader, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, Dickie Long was born in Cork but educated at the CBS in Westland Row, Dublin, where his family moved in the 1890s.As a boy, Long attracted the attention of Hugh Lane who was so impressed that he gave him the money to buy his first paints (Snoddy, 2006). He attended evening classes at the RHA Schools and won several awards, including a prize for the highest number of points attained in one session over five subjects. Other awards included the RDS’s Taylor Prize in 1912 and a commission from the Ancient Order of Hibernians for their Rutland Square Offices, to produce a set of murals on the theme of Irish History, a neglected subject for Irish artists in those days.He taught art at the Galway Technical Institute, the Galway Grammar School and St. Mary’s College before becoming art master at the Clonmel Central Technical Institute in 1914, the year in which his work was first accepted at the RHA. He won a bronze medal at the 1924 Aonach Tailteann for a wooden screen inlaid with a scene from the life of Cúchulainn. He ended a two-year stint teaching in Athy, County Kildare because of endless sectarian division in the classroom and returned to Clonmel, where he taught until his retirement. He was one of the driving forces behind the founding of the South Tipperary Fine Art Club in the early 1940s, and as its first secretary, advocated for a permanent art collection in Clonmel along with a gallery to house it. To achieve this goal he staged exhibitions and organised a national children’s art competition. He became the first curator of the collection in 1954 and within a decade had built it up to contain fifty artworks. He was greatly helped in this by his former student and local artist, Molly Bracken who, herself, became an art teacher in the town. Long’s studio contents are also part of the museum’s collection.R. J. Long’s son, Brendan, became editor of The Nationalist, Clonmel’s weekly newspaper. Since compiling this catalogue two additional paintings by R.J. Long, featuring local landmarks, Lady Blessington’s Bath and the Bridge at Ardfinnan, have been gifted to the collection.As a teenager, R. J. Long would have been familiar with the Dublin landscape, then still largely rural, and this view suggests the south side of the city with a distant view of the Wicklow hills. Long’s depiction of it belongs strictly within the nineteenth-century tradition of fidelity to the optical view, unperturbed by encroaching modernist practices. Lithography, the print medium that is best suited to capturing the spontaneity of pencil drawing, is exploited by him on this occasion to explore the patterns of shadows from fence, gate and trees, cast across the laneway. Long also painted portraits. Theo Snoddy noted that he had seen a portrait of the artist’s wife in Clonmel, but this does not form part of the collection.