"Jack embodies the old Irish word Samhildánach, which
means "equally skilled in many arts."
It is rare in life that we get to meet people who have had a profound impact upon our outlook on topics which have interested us since childhood, let alone to then actually get to interview them later on in life. Artist, author, mythologist and Neolithic researcher Jack Roberts is one of them. It was through the most astounding sychronicities that about two years ago a friend of mine, Francis Presley, turned out to be also friends with the legendary (and I am being sincere stating this) Jack Roberts of the ground-breaking Stonelights team - who along with American artist and Neolithic rock art researcher Martin Brennan - became the great modern pioneers of Irish Neolithic the rock art and archeoastronomy world back in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Stonelights made ground-breaking discoveries into Irish 'sacred sites' and astronomical alignments, especially at Loughcrew. Making the front pages of Irish national newspapers at the time.
Their discoveries culminated in Martin Brennan's seminal work on the topic The Stars and the Stones. A book that was to revolutionise the entire field of Irish Neolithic rock art and archeoastronomy research of the Irish megalithic scene forever. To this day, it has not been equalled in both its scope, originality and presentation. As synchronicities happen in life during the most poetic (surprising) moments, I first bumped into Jack in real life - by sheer happenstance - at the Carrowmore megalithic complex in Sligo last year when this guy walks up to me and says, "I know you Mr Sheridan..." Again, a few days later on the side of the mountain at Carrowkeel - on a hike up to the cairns - there is Jack waving to me across from one side of the same mountain that I was coming down from, and he was going up.
You honestly can't make this stuff up.
Several months later, another meeting and chat at the opening night of our mutual friend Francis Presley's 'What We Have Become' art exhibition at the Hawkswell in Sligo, and, over a few glasses of red wine, finally allowed me to work up the courage to tell Jack my theories on the druids and their clever infiltration of the early Irish Christian incursions into this country. He was interested...to my amazement. We then had a further chat at my art studio a few weeks later. The seed was germinating.
Eventually, I managed to arrange an interview with Jack and myself at the Wicker Man Studios in Rathcormack, County Sligo. My completely selfish agenda was to get Jack on camera (for the first time perhaps?) to promote the work that both he and Martin Brennan did in the late 1970s and early 1980s to as wide an audience as I can reach.
These guys are true legends, and dare I say it, antiquarian mavericks from a time when literally no one else in Ireland was doing it. Jack was also heavily involved with the Irish Punk Rock scene and the North Dublin band The Attrix, and as twee as this might sound, I like to think of Stonelights coming from the same 'just let's do it!' mentality of the 1970s Punk Rock scene which was also a huge formative event in my own early teens. They were out there - in the field and outside the pale - long before anyone else, and set the template for upstarts like myself to follow. Sleeping overnight inside Neolithic chambers waiting for stars to fall, and suns and moons to rise. Then observing the shafts of light making their course along ancient artwork created by Irish artists as long as five thousand years ago. Just let that sink in for a second.
I was very nervous doing this interview, as Jack has no idea how highly I regard his work and books, but here it is...the end result for your enjoyment. Believe me, it is worth it.
Special thanks to Nabil Shaban for working his magic in making this happen, as well as Mona for her awesome camera skills.