Sidney Nolan's "Ned Kelly" (Pic: Sidney Nolan Trust)

One of the mysteries of Sidney Nolan’s "Ned Kelly" series of paintings is the absence of a hanging scene. The series might be read as a type of Stations of the Cross, book-ended by the bleak Landscape and The Trial. Both paintings hint at death but do not reveal it. In Nolan’s painterly world the outlaw is never crucified.

Although his head is still missing, history tells us that Kelly was most definitely hanged. However, giving credence to Ned’s courtroom promise is his appearance here in Dublin. In essence, making the reverse journey of his convict father, where Ned was transported to the old Garda Síochána (the Irish police force) headquarters, which is now the Irish Museum of Modern Art for an exhibition that closed in January. Here, Ned was imprisoned and then hung again. Such is Life.