Visual Arts in Sligo
Cultural History, Drumcliffe Burial Site of WB Yeats, Famous Artists (like Jack Butler Yeats) and Craft Galleries.

County Sligo, Connacht Province,
Republic of Ireland.

Note: For an introduction to Celtic
and the ancient artifacts of
the Celts, see: Celtic Art. For facts
about the two earliest styles, which
influenced so many Irish artists
during the golden age of the early
Christian era in Ireland, see:
Hallstatt (c.800-450 BCE) and
La Tene (c.450-50 BCE).

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

Visual Arts in County Sligo

North of Mayo and south of Donegal on the north-west coast of Ireland, County Sligo (Sligeach) is a county in the province of Connacht with a population of 58,200. The name Sligeach means "area filled with shells". The capital is Sligo town.

Early Visual Arts

Sligo is home to two examples of medieval Irish art history. These are the Celtic High Cross sculptures at Drumcliffe, the church in whose graveyard the Nobel-Prize Winning poet WB Yeats is buried. (Critics consider that Yeats connected nineteenth century to twentieth-century poetry in the same way as Picasso connected them for painting.) The High Crosses, together with with the ruin of a round tower are the only remaining signs of the Drumcliffe monastery, founded by St Colmcille in the sixth Century. One cross is decorated with biblical scenes including: Adam and Eve, David and Goliath, and what looks like the only sculpture of the Virgin Mary and Child on a Celtic High Cross. The other cross is headless and plain. Although most of these Irish crosses are greatly weathered, and retain only a proportion of their embellishments and engravings, in the medieval period they constituted a fabulous contribution to Western free-standing public sculpture. In addition, Co Sligo was the site of the discovery of the Moylough Belt Shrine, one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical metalwork in the history of Irish art.


Famous Artists

Among famous Irish artists associated with Sligo, are: Jack Butler Yeats, (Renowned Expressionist Painter); Patrick Collins, (Landscape and Figure Painter); Robert Gregory, (Landscape and Portrait Artist); Casimir (Count) Markievicz, (Portrait Artist); Constance (Countess) Markievicz, (nee Gore-Booth) (Watercolourist); Bernard McDonagh, (Landscape Artist); Nick Miller, (Post Expressionist Artist).

Arts Activities

In addition to its association with the Yeats family, County Sligo has long been associated with landscape painting due to its combination of rugged coastline, wild landscape and Celtic culture. The Sligo local authority maintains this connection with the fine arts through an extensive program of exhibitions, workshops, artist-residencies, educational and community arts projects.

Art Galleries

Model Arts and Niland Gallery, The Mall Sligo Town. Recent art exhibitions in this gallery have included: Jack B Yeats "A thought of Sligo", commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the death of one of Ireland’s greatest twentieth century painters. "Landscapes of the West", a show of Irish painting of the west of Ireland from the Niland Collection. In addition, at the Niland Black Box, there was a series of films by Andy Warhol and other filmmakers to interpret artistic activities at the Factory - Andy Warhol’s painting studio in New York. (071-9141405)

Sligo Art Gallery, Yeat's Memorial Building, Sligo Town
Recent art shows in this gallery have included local artist Tadhg McSweeney’s exhibition of painting and Irish sculpture. (071-9145847)

The Cat and The Moon Gallery, Castle St, Sligo Town
Recent art shows in this gallery have included Clive Bright and Billy Moore's bronze sculpture and oil painting. (071-9143686)

Teach Ban Nua Gallery, Drumcliffe
Recent art shows in this gallery have included a presentation by Tom O'Rourke of drawings as a response to a musical experience. Also a group exhibition of gallery landscape-inspired artists, including: Dave Gearty, Andy Parsons, Milan Pelikan, Joanna Hughes, Jackie Askew, Tinka Berkhert, Tina Brooks, Michael J Farrel, Dorothy Kolle and Heidi Wickham. (087-7549760)

Other Sligo art venues include: Church Street Gallery, Sligo Town (071-9151779); Taylors Art Gallery, Castlebaldwin (071-9165138); and Waterfront Gallery, Rosses Point (071-9151688).

• 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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