Cork Art
History of Visual Arts & Culture in City and County of Cork, Ireland.

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Self-Portrait (c.1770), by James Barry,
Cork's greatest Neo-classical history

For his top priced work, see:
Most Expensive Irish Paintings.

Cork Arts & Culture

The largest county in the the Republic of Ireland, County Cork (Corcaigh) - home of many painters, sculptors and other contemporary artists - is located in the south-west of the country in the province of Munster. The 'rebel county' is named after Cork City, its capital, and has a population of 420,000. County Cork is home to the Blarney Stone, Fota Island Wildlife Park, and Cobh (Queenstown) - the last port visited by the Titanic, and from which most Irish emigrants left their native land to sail to the United States and Australia. A large number of talented Cork artists are resident in the county, which is famous for its numerous art galleries, artist groups and arts festivals.
For the latest events, see Cork Art News.

Death of Nelson (Detail) (c.1862-4) by
Cork artist Daniel Maclise.

For a list of monuments of
cultural or artistic interest, see:
Architectural Monuments Ireland.
Archeological Monuments Ireland.

For details of exhibitions & shows
in galleries across Ireland, see:
Irish Art Exhibitions.

Early Connections With the Visual Arts

Celtic metalworkers and crafsmen used copper mined in County Cork during the Bronze Age (c.3500-1100 BCE) to create a wealth of bronze items many of which were exported to the Continent.

The Petrie Crown, one of the Celtic art treasures (see also the Broighter Gold Collar) from the pagan Iron Age, created in the the La Tène style was discovered in during the mid-nineteenth century. Made from separate bronze pieces riveted together, the Petrie Crown incorporated Celtic designs as well as a number of Etruscan and Greek motifs.

For a brief guide to Celtic culture including the early metalworks of the Celts, see: Celtic Art. For information about the two earliest styles, which influenced so many Irish craftsmen during the golden age of the early Christian era in Ireland, see: Hallstatt (800-450) and La Tene (450-50 BCE).

Important Artists

Head and Figures (2002-6) by Cork
based artist John Kingerlee.

Lisheen, by West Cork-based
landscape artist William Crozier.


In 1962, the internationally acclaimed Newgrange neolithic monument in County Meath was excavated and restored by the archeologist Professor Michael J O'Kelly, from University College, Cork, in a process lasting thirteen years. [For more about the development of visual arts in Cork and Munster, see History of Irish Art.]

Cork City: Arts & Culture

Located on the banks of the River Lee and dating from the seventh century, the city of Cork is the second city of the Republic of Ireland. Previously one of the major ports of Western Europe, Cork is now a significant business and cultural centre. In 2005, Cork celebrated its status as a European Capital of Culture and a premier centre of visual arts in Ireland with a wide range of visual art events involving Irish painting, Irish sculpture, video, installation art and printmaking, together with public art shows, workshops and festivals.


Cultural Centres

Cork City includes several fine cultural centres such as: the Crawford College of Art and Design, the Cork Opera House, the new Cork School of Music, the Institute for Choreography and Dance, as well as numerous independent galleries and other venues. Major cultural festivals include: the Cork Film Festival, and the Cork Jazz Festival, to name but two.

Artist-Led Groups and Centres

Cork artists have involved themselves in numerous bodies designed to foster the practice of art - through affordable studio space, artist-residencies, cultural exchanges, exhibitions and outreach educational programs. Such bodies include: the Maclise Art Society, Cork Printmakers, the Backwater Artists Group, the National Sculpture Factory, the Cork Vision Centre, and the Cork Artists Collective. For a wide range of ceramics, painting and life drawing courses, see Kinsale Pottery & Arts Centre. For a specialist artist group devoted to crafts, see West Cork Craft & Design Guild. For new ways of selling paintings, see Art Party.

Art Galleries

There are a number of fine art galleries in Cork City which display a wide range of traditional landscapes, still lifes, portraits and genre paintings, as well as many contemporary artworks. These venues include: the Crawford Art Gallery, whose history is interwoven with that of the city and whose Collection includes a range of fine paintings and sculpture, the Lewis Glucksman Gallery at University College Cork (UCC), Buckley's Fine Art, the Fenton Gallery, the Shaw Gallery, the Lavit Gallery, and the Vangard Gallery.

County Cork itself has some of the most interesting art galleries in Ireland, such as: Sirius Arts Centre (Cobh), Kinsale Art Gallery (Kinsale), West Cork Art Centre (Skibbereen), Doswell Gallery (Rosscarbery), Catherine Hammond Gallery (Glengarriff), and the Mill Cove Gallery (Castletownbere).

Art Programs

Although Cork City remains the focus for cultural activity within the region, as well as the major patron of Irish art, through the Cork Council's Arts Office and National public art funding programs like the Percent for Art Scheme, County Cork offers a range of cultural projects and community arts activities. For example, the West Cork Arts Centre runs a wide variety of events for West Cork - involving painting, sculpture, installation art and ceramics - while East Cork is served by the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh. Both centres receive funding from the Irish Arts Council and run community arts programs which bring painters, sculptors and other professional Irish artists into contact with the public.


Art Schools In County Cork

Among the independent arts courses and classes available in the county are those offered by: Art Holidays Ireland (021) 4776040; Kinsale Pottery and Art School, Kinsale (021) 4777758; The Ewe Art Centre, Glengarriff (027) 63840; and Tir na Meala Summer School, Macroom (026) 45651.
See also: Art Schools in Munster.

• For more about painting and sculpture in Munster, see: Homepage.

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