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New photographs on the Paradiso walls

Regulars in Paradiso might be curious about the collection of old black and white photographs that have recently appeared on one wall of the dining room. It’s been a long time since there has been any change to those walls. In fact, the paint job is the original one, now almost fifteen years old, and is so multi-layered with different shades that we couldn’t re-do it even if we wanted to. And the decorative art boxes by Eoin Kelly that have been there almost as long suited the artist’s own wall-painting effort that the first exhibition became the last. Until last Sunday, the 27th April, that is. The photographs are of my mother, Kathleen Cotter, at various stages of her life, and they were put up to decorate the place for a very special dinner to celebrate her 80th birthday. Most of the shots are posed, and some are very formal, as was usually the case in a time when cameras were rare and film expensive. But they have a magic quality and a sense of a different era, which I hope resonates for more than immediate family.
Forty of her closest friends, family, neighbours, cousins and card-playing buddies turned up to honour the day with a small feast, which was a bit of challenge given that most of them had never been to Paradiso before. But they came with open minds and warm hearts for the day that was in it, and it turned out to be the most special evening ever in that room, especially for those who stayed late enough to hear the beautiful singing in the small hours.
Afterwards, I couldn’t bring myself to take the photographs down. Just for a week or two, I told myself, at least until my mother gets to see them again in the normal routine of a Paradiso lunch. Which should be this week…after that, we’ll see…maybe just another week…

Posted on: 5 May 2008

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