Michael D. Higgins Launches World’s Largest Collection of Famine-Related Art

For the first time ever, the world’s largest collection of art relating to The Great Famine is coming home to Ireland on a 12-month tour of Dublin, Cork and Derry. President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins will unveil the artworks at the exhibition’s launch tonight, Wednesday 7th March at Dublin Castle. The exhibition will be open to the public from Thursday 8th March.

The exhibition, Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger, contains 50 artworks from some of Ireland’s most eminent artists, including: Jack B. Yeats, Dorothy Cross, Paul Henry, William Crozier, John Behan, Brian Maguire, Rowan Gillespie, Micheal Farrell, Hughie O’Donoghue and Alanna O’Kelly. A new painting by Robert Ballagh will also be unveiled.

The art will make the journey across the Atlantic from Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University, Connecticut.

John L. Lahey, President of Quinnipiac University said, “It has always been our goal to bring this outstanding collection home to Ireland; now that day has arrived. To have President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins launch ‘Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger’ at Dublin Castle is not only humbling, it is testament to the cultural and historical significance of this collection to the Irish people.” 

Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger will be on display between March and June in The Coach House at Dublin Castle, between July and October it will be shown at Uilinn West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen and finally, in 2019, at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin in Derry.

President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, states in the preface to the exhibition catalogue, “An Gorta Mór was a defining moment in the history of modern Ireland and a turning point in the history of our people…Today we are fortunate to have a great body of scholarship that adds to our understanding of that tragic chapter of our history and provides us with material for reflection, understanding, and, indeed, resolution.”

Niamh O’Sullivan, the exhibition’s curator, added: “The Famine continues to exert its hold on Ireland and its diaspora.  Artists, uniquely, perhaps, are equipped to express the complexity of our relationship with our past, and to explore the continuum of poverty and displacement, as well as issues of class and identity in our contemporary world.”

 

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