Skibbereen hosts huge exhibition of Famine art

Part of the world’s largest collection of Famine-related art has arrived in Cork.

‘Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger’ exhibition curator Niamh O’Sullivan explains ‘The Consecration of St Mary’s, Pope’s Quay, Cork’ to Cyril Thornton, chairperson, West Cork Arts Centre, Ann Davoren, director, Ulinn, West Cork Arts Centre and Donal O’Driscoll, CEO Skibbereen and Bandon Credit Union.

Skibbereen, a ground zero of the Famine, plays host for three months to the exhibition Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger.

It opens in the town’s Uilinn West Cork Arts Centre next Friday.

The works have been selected from the collection of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University, Connecticut, the largest Famine-related art collection in existence.

In the meantime, the Prior of the classical St Mary’s Dominican Church at Pope’s Quay in Cork, Maurice Colgan, will tomorrow welcome Ryan D Mahoney, the executive director and a number of key staff from Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University to the historic church and priory.

The city church’s link to the exhibition is the famous painting by Cork artist, James Mahony, ARHA (c.1815 - 59) which came to auction in 2015 at Whytes, Dublin.

A replica of one of the Great Hunger exhibits, ‘The Consecration of St Mary’s, Pope’s Quay, Cork,’ is on display at the city church.

The painting The Consecration of St Mary’s, Popes Quay, Cork is included in the exhibition and was acquired by Quinnipiac University after it outbid St Mary’s at auction.

The Cork church was subsequently gifted a lifesize reproduction of the work by the Connecticut university. Tomorrow, Mr Mahoney and his guests will be accorded a reception by Cork’s lord mayor Mick Finn at the request of Fr Colgan and the community in St Mary’s.

The Great Hunger exhibition has been on display at Dublin Castle since March and is currently being installed at the Uilinn by curator Niamh O’Sullivan and her team.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of education and community events for Skibbereen and West Cork as well as visitors to the region. The programme includes a West Cork-wide Schools Programme, a series of artists residencies in association with the Crawford Art Gallery and UCC, lectures and seminars in partnership with UCC and Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum.

A specially commissioned site-specific performance Anáil na Beatha by artist Alanna O’Kelly will also be performed at Schull Workhouse on July 21.

Ann Davoren, the director of Uilinn, said: “We are delighted this significant exhibition has come here. Skibbereen is known as the ground zero of the Famine and is a very significant place for famine-related themes.

“Over the coming months, we will link with a number of our cultural collaborators to present a rich and diverse programme of events, talks, lectures and seminars.

“Everyone is welcome to visit the poignant and important exhibition which is particularly significant for younger age groups to learn about their history.”

Donal O’Driscoll, CEO Skibbereen and Bandon Credit Union which supports the project, said: “It is fitting the exhibition has come to Skibbereen which was among the worst affected parts of Ireland during the famine years and will truly bring to light the historical significance the exhibition holds for both young and old throughout West Cork.”


Has KRIB sounded the death knell for the immersion?

Bake: Delicious recipes with chocolate - the ultimate dessert ingredient

Trend of the week: How to simmer in a boiler suit

Ask an expert: Is my IVF child more likely to have behaviour problems?

More From The Irish Examiner