Family Audio Tour: Military Manoeuvres

Oil painting of a group of children pretending to be a marching band parading down a street
Richard Thomas Moynan (1856-1906), Military Manoeuvres, 1891. Photo © National Gallery of IrelandCredit

Richard Thomas Moynan (1856-1906), Military Manoeuvres, 1891

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Transcript

Ide:
If paintings had a volume button, this one would be at top volume – [voice getting louder] because it’s a very noisy painting! When I walk around the galleries at night checking on the paintings, I swear I can sometimes hear voices and noises coming from them.

Eoin:
But pictures can’t make a noise – they’re silent! 

Ide:
True, but artists can make us imagine sounds, like this artist did. 

Eoin:
Well, I can see a soldier on the left, wearing a bright red jacket, and there’s a girl selling flowers on the left, and there are lots of boys in the street.

Ide:
This is a village not far from Dublin – Leixlip – but it was painted more than one hundred years ago. The boys are all pretending to be soldiers. Look - they’re all carrying musical instruments - some are real and some homemade.

Eoin:
Aah, now I can see: the boy at the back is blowing into a rolled-up piece of paper, like a trumpet; and the boy in front of him is banging a metal bin, like a drum. And in front of him, the boy in a blue jacket is blowing into a tea or coffee pot. 

Ide:
And there’s more.

Eoin:
Oh yes, one of them is smashing two saucepan lids, like cymbals, and the boy at the front is banging a box around his neck. That’s a lot of noise.

Ide:
They had to make their own instruments because they didn’t have money to buy real ones.  

Eoin: 
I can see. They haven’t even got shoes, and their clothes are ragged - but they’re having great fun. 

Ide:
This artist’s name was called Richard Thomas Moynan, and he loved painting big pictures showing life in Ireland, especially Irish children!

Eoin:
And his picture has given me an idea – not for a painting, but to make a musical instrument out of things I’ve got at home.

Ide:
And you, what would you use to make a musical instrument? Tell whoever you’re with.

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