Twelve artists elected to Aosdána

Association honours new members in artforms such as writing, drama, dance and film

Choreographer Liz Roche: among those admitted to Aosdána’s circle of 250 artists due to vacancies arising in the last year. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Author Kevin Barry, film-maker Pat Collins, architect Valerie Mulvin and painter Mairead O'hEocha are among new members elected to artists' association Aosdána, it was announced on Tuesday.

The 12 newly elected members are Kevin Barry (literature), Gerard Byrne (visual art), Pat Collins (visual art), Jim Doherty (music), Margo Harkin (visual art), Martin Lynch (literature), Gina Moxley (literature), Valerie Mulvin (architecture), Mairead O'hEocha (visual art), Arthur Riordan (literature), Liz Roche (choreography) and Jennifer Walshe (music).

It brings the Aosdána membership to 249. There was a tie for the last position. A postal ballot will decide the outcome.

Annual stipend

Founded in 1981 Aosdána honours people who have made an outstanding contribution to the creative arts in Ireland. Membership is limited to 250 living artists working in architecture, choreography, music, literature and visual art. The cnuas, a €17,000 annual stipend, is paid to members in need.


In the past year, 13 Aosdána members died, including Micky Donnelly, Ciaran Carson, Ulick O'Connor, Tom MacIntyre, Sonja Landweer, Veronica Bolay, Joe Steve Ó Neachtain, Janet Mullarney, Tim Robinson, Michael Cullen, Eric Sweeney, Eugene McCabe and, most recently, Derek Mahon.

Living in Co Sligo, Kevin Barry is best known as the author of Night Boat to Tangier, Beatlebone and City of Bohane. Playwright Gina Moxley has written 18 plays over 30 years, including her recent The Patient Gloria staged at the Abbey Theatre.

Arthur Riordan has been both actor and playwright for over three decades, particularly in conjunction with the Rough Magic Theatre company which staged his Improbable Frequency, for instance. Gerard Byrne works in film and photography with a catalogue spanning 25 years. He represented Ireland at the 52nd Venice Biennale and currently holds a professorship at the art academy of the Staedelschule in Frankfurt.

Pat Collins has made over 30 films including his Oscar-nominated Songs of Granite (2017), a portrait of Joe Heaney. Other portrait films include A Private World (2004), about John McGahern and Tim Robinson: Connemara (2011).

Jim Doherty is one of Ireland's most highly regarded jazz musicians and has been active since the early 1960s in trios, quartets and big bands. Margo Harkin is a film-maker based in Derry and was involved with the Field Day Theatre Company there from its beginning in 1980. Over a 12-year period from 1998, she made Bloody Sunday – A Derry Diary.

Playwright and architect

Playwright Martin Lynch grew up in Belfast's docks area and was at one stage resident playwright at the city's Lyric Theatre. One of his more recent works was The Miami Showband Story (2019) ,co-written with Marie Jones. He has written many plays in collaboration with communities.

Valerie Mulvin is a graduate of UCD school of architecture whose more recent work includes Blackrock Further Education Institute and Public Library, the Irish Architecture Foundation, the Trinity Long Room Hub and the James Ussher Library also in TCD.

Painter Mairead O’hEocha studied fine art at Goldsmith’s London and at NCAD. Recent exhibitions include Shaping Ireland, Landscapes in Irish Art at the National Gallery of Ireland last year.

Choreographer Liz Roche is co-founder and artistic director of Dublin-based Liz Roche Company. It has produced and toured over 20 of her works throughout Ireland and internationally. She directed Embodied, a series of five choreographed female proclamations commissioned by An Post/GPO for their 2016 celebrations.

Composer Jennifer Walshe was born in Dublin and studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and Northwestern University, Chicago. Her music has been performed all over the world. Currently she is professor at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Stuttgart.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times