Galway Visual Arts
Cultural History, Famous Landscape Painters, Art Galleries and Festival.

County Galway, Connacht Province
Republic of Ireland.

Note: 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)

Visual Arts in County Galway

Located on the west coast of Ireland, County Galway (Gaillimh) is part of the Irish province of Connacht. It has a population of 209,077. Like Kerry and Donegal, Galway has several Gaeltacht areas where Irish remains the spoken language. Galway City (known as The City of the Tribes) is the county's capital. Within Co Galway lies the National Park, a wilderness of mountains, bogs and heaths, and the Aran Islands.

Early Visual Arts

Galway is home to Ireland's finest surviving example of Celtic-style Irish art. Known as the Turoe Stone and standing near Loughrea, in the west of the county, this 5 feet 6 inches tall white stone early Irish sculpture is decorated in the La Tène Celtic art style and is regarded as one of the finest pagan sculptures in the history of Irish art during the late Iron Age. Tuam in Galway is a possible site of manufacture of the beautiful Cross of Cong, one of the finest processional crosses ever made.


For a list of buildings/sites of
historical, architectural or
artistic significance, see:
Architectural Monuments Ireland and
Archeological Monuments Ireland.

Landscape Painters

Galway, like other coastal counties in the Celtic West of Ireland, has always exerted an attraction for Irish and UK plein-air landscape artists specializing in landscape painting, who are drawn by its rugged beautiful views and authentic Celtic/Gaelic culture. Paradoxically, the artworks of such painters who flocked to the coastlines of Galway, Mayo and the islands, often ended up glorifying Irish rural poverty.


In any event, Galway has a long established tradition of arts and culture, as illustrated by its annual visual arts festivals like: the Galway Film Fleadh (July), the Galway Arts Festival (July), and the Baboró Galway International Arts Festival for Children (October). Galway Arts Festival is a major cultural event with an international arts program, which contributes greatly to the cultural life of the west of Ireland. It showcases outstanding Irish sculptors and painters, as well as artists involved in installation and conceptual art, film, video, ceramics and Celtic crafts.


Famous Artists

Galway's renowned Irish artists include: William Henry Bartlett, (Landscape Artist); Augustus Nicholas Burke, (Landscapes and Rural canvases); Joseph Patrick Haverty, (Illustrator, Portraitist, Genre Artist); Cecily Brennan, (Sculptress); Patrick Copperwhite, (Landscape Painter); Grace Cunningham, (Chiaroscuro Oil Painter); Charlotte Kelly, (Contemporary Artist); Nancy Larchet, (Watercolourist); Gavin Lavelle, (Contemporary Landscapes); Jimmy Lawlor, (Landscapes and Subjects inspired by fantasy, fairytales and nature); Richard Ward, (Wildlife Artist) and Marja van Kampen (Expressionist/colourist).

Curiously, the Waterford Art Gallery contains works by Ferenc Martyn (1899-1986), the noted Hungarian painter and illustrator whose great-grandfather emigrated to Hungary from County Galway in 1800.


Art Galleries and Venues

Galway Arts Centre

Established in 1982, and now operating from two buildings in the city centre, as well as various community sites across the city and county, Galway Arts Centre aims to promote all forms of creative activity, to encourage new artists and arts groups, to increase awareness of the arts through its education program and to provide the widest possible access to its art shows, events and activities, for the benefit of the cultural life of the region. Its two art galleries, box office, art workshops and administration are located in Dominick Street, while its premises at Nun's Island are used for performances, workshops and visual arts. The Centre has benefited from substantial grants from the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, the Galway Local Authority, and Boston Scientific. Recent investments in Connacht arts and culture have secured the Centre's status as the leading venue in the city's cultural life. (091-565-886)

Among the other art spaces throughout County Galway, are visual arts centres such as: Bold Art Gallery (091-539-900), Kenny Gallery (091-534-760), Norman Villa Gallery, Salthill (091-521-131), Stronach Gallery Connemara (091-786-111), as well as Aras Eanna, Inishere (099-75150); Ard Bia Gallery, Galway (091-539897); Art House Gallery, Tuam (091-471250); Black Cat Gallery, Galway (091-566422); Clifden Art Gallery, Clifden (095-21788); Duane Design Gallery, Loughrea (091-847722); Hawthorn Gallery, Galway (091-566422); Lavelle Art Gallery, Clifden (095-21882); Polo Gallery, Galway (091-532904); Quadrangle Gallery, NUI Galway (091-512061); Sheepchandler Gallery, Roundstone (095-35040); Tosnú Art Gallery, Ballinasloe (090-9642608); White Room Gallery, Galway (091-757669).

In addition, a few minutes drive from Galway City is the Irish Crystal Heritage Centre, with exhibits illustrating the merchants, seafarers, and artists who made up the original 14 tribes of the city, as well as the Claddagh ring, and glass craftsmanship.

• For more about Irish culture, see: Ireland Visual Arts.
• For more about the historical heritage of the province of Connacht, see: Homepage.
• For a list of the top living painters in Ireland, see: Best Irish Artists/Painters.
• For details of fine arts venues in Ireland, see: Irish Art Galleries.

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