In an art beat


ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS:While out and about this summer, be sure to visit some of the great galleries around the country, writes GEMMA TIPTON

WHILE ART FANS around the country make their regular trips to see the Dublin shows, summer is the time to get out on the road and discover that there are exceptional galleries to be found in some of the most beautiful parts of Ireland. So next time you see a sign in a scenic beauty spot reading “Art gallery this way”, don’t drive on by – stop and take a chance on discovering something unique. Before you make a special trip, do call ahead to check opening hours. Here are 10 of the best to get you started.

Sarah Walker Gallery

A top contender for most beautiful gallery in the country, the Sarah Walker Gallery in Castletownbere celebrates its 10th birthday this year. Right on the pier, the gallery was once a carriage house. Walker’s husband Kieran, a local fisherman, spotted the building from out in his boat one day, and the couple have transformed it into a bright and airy space where a sense of the sea is never far away. Walker is the daughter of architect Robin Walker and art writer Dorothy, while her brother Corban is a very successful artist, currently based in New York. Exhibitions include Walker’s own quietly beautiful paintings, plus curated exhibitions including an annual selection of the work of recent graduates from Ireland’s art colleges. The gallery opens during the summer months.

The Sarah Walker Gallery, The Pier, Castletownbere,

Co Cork, 027-70387,

While you’re in the area, check out the Mill Cove Gallery and sculpture gardens, on the Glengariff road from Castletownbere, where you can see contemporary art and sculpture in a 200-year-old stone outhouse (027-70393,

Catherine Hammond Gallery

Catherine Hammond brings contemporary art from Ireland and the US to her gallery on the main street of the pretty west Cork village of Glengarriff. This summer, to celebrate the artist’s 90th year, the gallery is showing painting, sculpture and prints by Patrick Scott (July 2nd to 28th), and there will be an exhibition of Linda Shelvin’s work in August. “A lot of the smaller galleries haven’t survived the recession, but those that have offer really outstanding work,” says Hammond. “Visiting a good gallery is so much more interesting when you are on holiday, and don’t feel the pressures of normal life. You have time to actually stop and look, and you don’t even have to dress up.”

Catherine Hammond Gallery, Glengarriff, Co Cork, 027-63812,

The Blue Pool

Leaving Killarney town on the way to the National Park, you’ll find the Blue Pool at a curve in the road. Mary Neeson, a ceramics graduate from Cork’s Crawford Art College, set the gallery up a year ago, and shows the work of fellow graduates plus people whose art she admires. You’ll find haunting photographic pieces by Neeson’s sister Lorraine, Valerie Gleeson’s prints, and ceramic work by Grainne Watts, Sarah Flynn and Helen Quill, among others. Neeson’s own studio, where she makes magical lamps and sculptures in fragile porcelain, is in the back, and the whole place is quite a treasure trove; the perfect antidote to all the made-in-China souvenirs of Ireland on sale in Killarney town.

The Blue Pool Gallery, Muckross Road, Killarney, Co Kerry, 064-6629049

Siopa Cill Rialaig

Ballinskelligs, at the heart of the Ring of Kerry, is home to the Cill Rialaig Artists’ Retreat, where artists and writers have been coming for more than a decade to get away from it all, think and create. Some of the fruits of their labours can be seen and purchased at Siopa Cill Rialaig, where you can also get a welcome cup of coffee. It is also open for dinner over the weekends, from Friday to Sunday.

Siopa Cill Rialaig, Dun Geagan, Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry,


Russell Gallery

Italian Stefania Russell set up the Russell Gallery with her ceramicist husband, Andy. Initially displaying just pottery, they quickly realised that the visual artists and art lovers in the area weren’t being very well served. Now the Russell Gallery holds exhibitions, and also sells books, cards and jewellery. It’s in a lovely spot, facing the sea, and art classes are held throughout the summer.

Russell Gallery, Newquay, Burren, Co Clare, 065-7078185,

Stronach Gallery

Another gallery in an incredibly beautiful setting, Nicola Stronach and Jean-Pierre Marie’s Victorian sporting lodge is on a mountainside between Oughterard and Rossaveel. The ground floor is given over to rooms showing work from Irish, UK and Eastern European artists. The combination of domestic interiors and stunning views makes looking at art here a pleasure. “Not a typical gallery, but an intriguing place in a beautiful location,” is how Stronach describes it. The work on the walls is constantly changing and being updated, so there’s always something fresh to see.

Stronach Gallery, Fermoyle Lodge, Costello, Co Galway, 091-786111,

Allihies Copper Mine Museum

The Beara Peninsula has been attracting artists for decades, and for the summer months, the Allihies Mine Museum (an attraction in its own right) is celebrating the area’s inspirational connection with art by holding a series of exhibitions of the work of local artists. As these include Charles Tyrrell, Cormac Boydell, Rachel Parry and Tim Goulding. It makes for quite a series of shows. There’s also a cafe with excellent coffee and cake.

Allihies Copper Mine Museum, Allihies, Beara, Co Cork, 027-73218,

Heron Gallery

Brought up in Barbados, Annabel Langrish studied art in Sligo before moving to Leitrim. “But I missed the sea,” she says, and now she and her husband Klaus run two branches of the Heron Gallery (there’s one in Schull and one in Ahakista, Bantry). There’s a lovely cafe, and the galleries show Annabel’s work, an eclectic range of painting and sculpture, often inspired by the sea, as well as driftwood furniture by Klaus and a trove of goodies by local artists and craftspeople.

Heron Gallery, Rossnacaheragh, Ahakista, Bantry, Co Cork, 027-67278,

Glebe Gallery

Moving to Donegal in the 1950s, painter Derek Hill established a reputation both for hospitality and as an art collector. He left the house, on the edge of the Glenveagh National Park, to the Irish nation in the 1980s, together with an art collection including works by Renoir, Picasso and Kokoshka, plus some of the Tory Island painters, whose art he greatly supported. A trip around Glebe House is fascinating, but don’t miss out on the Glebe Gallery in the grounds, where a changing series of exhibitions this summer includes Jack B Yeats (throughout July), James Dixon, Peter Blake and Jane Talbot, Michael Fortune and Paul Rooney. There’s also a tea room.

Glebe Gallery, Churchill, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, 074-9137071,

Lismore Castle Arts

Housed in a wing of the gorgeously gothic Lismore Castle, Lismore Castle Arts is a contemporary gallery that shows a single exhibition of cutting-edge art during the summer months. This year it’s film works by Gerard Byrne. You can also get a coffee and stroll in the gardens (admission charge applies).

Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore, Co Waterford, 058-54061,