I’ve just published a book – Seán Keating: Art, Politics and Building the Irish Nation – it was the result of ten years research and a lot of hard work. It was only towards the end of the project that I realised that I should have kept a record of the events and encounters that took place along the way. Some were strange, some were hilarious, and all were memorable. This little episode is titled ‘Bumps in Dublin’ – enjoy!
I was contacted, via email, by a very nice gentleman who explained that he had a Seán Keating painting to show me. Always keen to see anything made by Keating, I arranged to meet the gentleman at his place of work, Hollis Street Maternity Hospital in Dublin. A few days later I went to the hospital and asked for this particular man. I was sent to a seating area in a long corridor to wait for him. It took me a moment to two to realise that I was sitting in the middle of a line of heavily pregnant women. Ah well, I thought to myself, this is a busy hospital with very few seating areas. I must be in the right place. But the eureka moment came when I finally noticed the sign hanging over a doorway to my right. The gentleman I had arranged to see was actually the professor, and I was seated among the queue of women waiting to see him for scans, and whatever else goes on behind those doors. But there was nowhere else to go, nowhere to hide my lack of bump. I had to sit there, somewhat guiltily, and wait. Oh dear Mr Keating, I thought, you’ve really landed me in it this time.
The professor was late, and I amused myself by thinking about the various situations that working on Seán Keating had already got me into. More of that anon. The funniest part of that day was when the the nice professor arrived. Aware that he was late for his appointment with me, and well-used to dealing with heavily pregnant women, he walked slowly along the seated queue, all the while gazing at their baby bumps and nodding from side to side. He eventually came to my obvious lack of bump, spent ten seconds registering that I was not pregnant, then raised his head and said ‘hello, I’m professor so and so – you must be the Keating woman.’ I hadn’t laughed so much in ages, and as for the painting – it was yet another long-lost work that had now been located.