Wednesday, 26 November 2014

IMMA #1: Murder in the museum

I always thought the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) would be a bloody great place for a murder.

It's a striking location near the Liffey in Dublin, and is set in the 17th-century Royal Hospital Kilmainham (RHK). The Royal Hospital was a home for retired soldiers for almost 250 years, and I'm told it was modelled on Les Invalides in Paris.

After the creation of the Irish Free State, the Royal Hospital was even mooted as a potential home for the Oireachtas - the Irish parliament.

Besides being a fine home for modern art (both inside and outside the buildings), it also hosts the ceremonies of the National Day of Commemoration each July, as well as concerts (Blur, Leonard Cohen, Jack White, Public Enemy...)

The gardens

IMMA boasts a large courtyard, an interior with long corridors, old stables that have been restored and converted into artists' studios, and above all its stunning 17th-century gardens.

While a murder in a museum (or library or gallery) is quite common in crime fiction, I was thinking more of an external location: those formal gardens.

They are south-facing, perfectly tended, with box hedging, tall holly bushes,  a water feature, a mixture of classical and modern statues, and lots of beautiful symmetries and focal points.

Given the RHK's origins, it's little surprise that it was originally a physic garden with medicinal herbs. Today, though, it is  more ornamental and I haven't noticed any herbs to "borrow".

Above all, though, the gardens are so quiet on a foggy early weekday morning. The perfect time, weather and location to set that bloody murder. Or at least bury a body or two...

Postscript: the gardens do make it into my third "Moss Reid" book, Ghost Flight (pages 221 and 226 of the paperback edition)...
It’s a five-minute walk from the station to the leafy lane that leads up to the art museum. Maggie’s Honda is by the rear of the main building, and she’s standing at the steps down to the formal gardens. We walk down to their far end, which you can hardly make out in the dewy fog...