A Diner in Naas

This acrylic shows the interior of Eddie Rocket’s diner in Naas, County Kildare. Naas is taken from the Gaelic Nás na Rí, meaning the meeting place of the kings. It was a walled market town in medieval times and became the civic centre for County Kildare. The modern town has a population of over twenty thousand.

Naas to me is synonymous with road travel. I frequently passed through on my journeys to the south west until the town itself was bypassed by the N7/M7. Lawlor’s Hotel at the northern end of Main street was an occasional stop for refreshments and entertainment. In the seventies we followed the band Horslips who played there. It was fifteen miles from Walkinstown, about an hour’s round trip. 

Eddie Rocket’s is just around the corner. It’s an Irish restaurant chain founded in 1989. the Naas branch, one of forty outlets across Ireland, is an extensive two storey premises. A splash of Americana, with chrome and neon and red, red leatherette, you’re stepping back into rock and roll days but in a safe bubble of twenty first century comfort. The burgers are great and the service too. 

On a recent visit, I took my reference from reflections in the plate glass window by the entrance. There’s a dreamlike quality to the scene, a sense of being in a projection of a period film. There are two worlds on the canvas, our real world beside the imaginary or ephemeral. The viewer may sense that beyond that beautiful vision of the film of our lives, lies the vast blackness of night.

I was thinking of Edward Hopper, the American painter who recorded city and motorway diners, gas stations, motels and more across the USA. An inveterate traveller by car and train, he criss-crossed the vast country to research new subjects. His paintings are more than simple realistic compositions, evoking as they do humanity and often loneliness amidst crowds and buildings, and the splendid isolation of travel. Born in 1882 he died in 1967 in New York.

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