Visual Arts in Mayo
Cultural History, Famous Landscape Painters, Sculpture, Metalwork and Art Venues.

County Mayo, Connacht Province,
Republic of Ireland.

Note: For the history of Celtic culture
and examples of ancient metalwork
created by the first Celts, see:
Celtic Art. For a guide to the earliest
styles, which influenced so many
Irish draughtsmen and metalworkers
during the renaissance of the early
Christian era, see: Hallstatt (800-450)
and La Tene (c.450-50 BCE).

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

Visual Arts in County Mayo

Located North of County Galway on the west coast of Ireland, County Mayo (Maigh Eo) with a population of 117,466, lies in the Irish province of Connacht. Mayo (county town Castlebar) is home to the shrine of Knock, Croagh Patrick a mountain where St. Patrick fasted for forty days and nights, and Achill Island. At the base of Croagh Patrick stands the National Famine Memorial.

Early Visual Arts

Ceide Fields is the name of an extensive Stone Age site covering 24 square miles of farmland in North Mayo. Pre-dating the Egyptian Pyramids, this prehistoric site has yielded a rich harvest of artifacts and artworks from mesolithic and neolithic times. In addition, the Cross of Cong, in County Mayo is one of the oldest surviving examples of Irish art. Created during the twelfth century, its Nordic Ringerike and Urnes style illustrates the influence of Viking craftmanship on Irish Insular art. In conjunction with Celtic metalwork (eg. Ardagh Chalice, Broighter Collar), and the outstanding illuminated manuscripts (eg. Book of Durrow, Book of Kells), Celtic high cross sculpture represents the three major stages in the history of Irish visual art. The Mayo Augustinian Abbey of Cong was for centuries the home of the famous Cross of Cong, one of the greatest exemplars of early Christian metalwork.


Authentic Celtic Landscape

County Mayo, along with Counties Clare and Galway, has always been popular with traditional and contemporary Irish artists attracted by its wild coastline and Celtic landscape. During the early twentieth century in particular, Mayo and Galway were magnets for plein-air painters who believed in the purity and authenticity of West of Ireland culture. Among many others, the artist Paul Henry painted on Achill island for several years in the early 1900s. Some of his most famous landscape painting features the dramatic scenery of the island.

Famous Artists

Among the most celebrated visual artists born in Mayo, are: Micheal De Burca, (Landscape, Portrait and Figure Painter); John Brady (Expressionist Artist, lecturer); Liam Jones (Landscapes in Acrylics); Owen Walsh (Figure painting influenced by Post-Impressionism) and Bernadette MacCormick (Portraiture, landscapes).

Art Galleries and Venues

County Mayo is home to numerous galleries, cultural and arts centres, including:

Ceide Fields Visitor Centre
The Ceide Fields Visitor Centre, resembling a modern pyramid, overlooks spectacular cliffs on the north Mayo coast. It recounts the life of this Stone Age farming community, with its stone-walled fields, homes and megalithic tomb architecture, along with their arts and crafts skills and spiritual beliefs.

Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar

Originated in 1976 as the Education Centre on the Mall in Castlebar, the Linenhall Arts Centre began showing temporary exhibitions of works from the National Museum of Ireland, the National Gallery and the National Library. Today, it presents a range of contemporary art in a series of revolving exhibitions, each accompanied by a catalogue and augmented by gallery talks and workshops. Among the painters and sculptors who have exhibited, are names like: Cormac O'Leary, Breda Burns, Varvara Shavrova, David Quinn, Tom Delohery, Frances Crowe, Oisin Kelly, Pat Harris, Harry Vince Coulter, Rachel Kearns, Barry Jacques, Paul Chidester, Michael Kierans, Linda Mulloy, Pam Gray, Hilary Elmes, Lucy Hill. For details, contact: 094-902-3733.

Claremorris Art Gallery, Claremorris

Established in 1988 to promote full-time Irish artists, the gallery will shortly have an artist studio and residence. Some of the painters and sculptors shown include: Brian Bourke, Tony O'Malley, John Shinnors, Michael Farrell, and Basil Blackshaw. Some of shows staged have toured other international art venues. For details, contact: 094-9371348.



Courthouse Gallery, Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Ballycastle

Opened in 1991 to lure professional artists to work in North Mayo. The centre provides each artist with a studio and family-sized accomodation; in return, the artist donates a painting to the Gallery. The collection now totals 350 works of art. For details, contact: 096-43184.

Western Light Art Gallery, Achill Island

Founded in 1989, the gallery is noted for its landscape paintings of West Mayo and represents artists like: John Behan, Alex McKenna, Sean Cannon (Photographer), William Mulhall, Rene Boell and Alexandra van Tuyll. For details, contact: 098-43325.

Other County Mayo art venues include: Apple Loft Gallery, Ballina (096-49432); Art Studio, Westport (098-26732); Ballina Arts Centre, Ballina (096-73593); Custom House Studios, Westport Quay (098-28735); Dánlann Yawl Art Gallery, Achill (098-36137); Kevin Sharkey Gallery, Newport 087 6457300); Town Hall Arts Centre, Castlebar (094-9255812).

Art Schools

County Mayo is home to a variety of art schools. Two examples are: Ó Dálaigh School of Painting, Achill (098-36137); and Wild Spirit Art School, Glore `Mill Art Center, Kiltimagh.

• 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 art museums in Ireland, see: Irish Art Galleries.

© All rights reserved.