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The Patron, or the Festival of St Kevin at the Seven Churches, Glendalough (1813)


This work shows the festivities surrounding the feast day of St Kevin, held annually on 3 June at Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, where Kevin had founded a monastery in the sixth century. Though patrons (or patterns) were intended to have a devotional character, no such religious sentiment can be detected here. Instead, the scene is one of merriment and worldliness: dancing, drinking and the trading of goods. This particular patron was suppressed by Cardinal Cullen in 1862, as part of a move by the Catholic clergy to prohibit local festivals. Peacock made his reputation with crowd scenes like this and depictions of events such as Donnybrook and Palmerston Fairs. Peacock was clearly gifted, with a closely observed technique and a keen eye for detail. The painting is a fascinating glimpse of Irish life in the early nineteenth century.