Ballina’s 300th birthday: RHA celebrates with art inspired by the west of Ireland

Plus: a new initiative to encourage a more diverse nightlife in towns and cities across the country

Marking the 200th anniversary of the Royal Hibernian Academy, and to celebrate 300 years since the formal establishment of the town of Ballina, a collection of artworks inspired by the west of Ireland will be exhibited in the Municipal Gallery space in the Civic Offices.

The west of Ireland, with its reefs and promontories, surrounded by blanket bogs, is steeped in artistic history and has for centuries attracted artists to what Oscar Wilde once described as its “savage beauty”. Some of Ireland’s best-known artistic giants, including Jack B Yeats, Paul Henry, Gerard Dillon, Nano Reid, Percy French, William Orpen and Letitia Hamilton, were all attracted to the light, landscapes and indeed the locals, who inspired some of the greatest works of art from this island of ours.

Opening today, September 9th, and entitled RHA West, the new exhibition will feature 50 works by RHA artists including past president Mick O’Dea, along with paintings by Donald Teskey, Aideen Barry and Alice Maher.

As part of the event, which is a collaboration between the RHA, Ballina 2023, Ballina Municipal District Council and Ballina Arts Centre, and which runs until October 20th, a number of masterclasses will take place. Una Sealy will hold a masterclass in drawing anatomy, while O’Dea will hold a masterclass on plein air painting and Niamh O’Malley will give a talk on her participation at the Venice Biennale 2022.


A night in the museum

A new scheme, aimed at supporting museums and galleries to open their doors later, and encourage a more diverse nightlife in towns and cities across the country, is set to take off over the coming weeks and months.

The pilot initiative, Night Time Economy, which was announced by Minister for Culture Catherine Martin last week, is aimed at encouraging people to enjoy a more diverse nightlife.

Fifty-one organisations will hold more than 220 events across the country, covering poetry, film, dance, literature, music, theatre and visual arts. These include concerts at Epic, the Irish Emigration Museum; and Airfield Estate in Dundrum, Dublin. The Glucksman in Cork will host evenings of art, poetry and music on Thursday evenings while the Hunt Museum in Limerick will run nine nights of secret events where clues will be given through social media.

Tipperary Museum of Hidden History will host music sessions from local musicians and artists, and the Northern Soul exhibition at the Dock in Carrick-on-Shannon will open late, with tours, a film screening, and a DJ, while Ballinglen Museum in Co Mayo will host theatre, music and storytelling evenings to mark the scheme.

The recipient of the largest grant is the National Concert Hall, which, in partnership with independent promoter Foggy Notions, will further develop last year’s successful Haunted Dancehall event and run a series of creative experiences aimed at 20-35-year-olds from October to December.

This initiative comes as a result of the recommendations from the Night Time Economy Report, which highlighted the need to increase opportunities for young people in activities that are not alcohol based, through innovation and creativity.

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property, fine arts, antiques and collectables