Paying tribute to our glorious past

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Paying tribute to our glorious past

Paying tribute to our glorious past

If you visit Inis Oirr between now and September 12, make sure to call in to the island’s church to view a stunning hand-painted currach by Oughterard-based artist Kathleen Furey.

Kathleen decided to decorate her currach with a tribute to a stained glass window painting of St Gobnait by Harry Clarke which can be found at the Honan Chapel in Co Cork.

While researching the project, Kathleen discovered that Clarke spent six summers on the island. The church on our neighbouring island, Inis Meáin, features beautiful windows by Harry Clarke.

It’s just one of 21 stunning currachs locoated all across the island as part of the ‘Curacha’ exhibition which celebrates 21 years of Áras Éanna as an arts centre.

Seven of the pieces are on display inside the theatre at Áras Éanna (open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm) and four are in the courtyard outside our building. The other ten are dotted at locations all around the coast of the beautiful island.

Call in! You won’t be disappointed.

Recently, we featured seven of the artists who kindly agreed to take part in the ‘Curacha’ exhibition. Today we feature seven more, including two of the most famous artists in Ireland, Mick O’Dea and John Behan RHA.

Ger Sweeney’s currach on site, overlooking Inis Meáin. Photograph by Ciaran Tierney.


An artist based in Mayo who works primarily as an abstract painter, Ger Sweeney has exhibited widely in Ireland, Europe, and the United States. His work over the past 30 years is held in numerous public and private collections, including the OPW, Aras an Uachtarain, and the European Parliament collection.

Ger has been exploring abstraction and landscape for over three decades. He is currently preparing new work for his upcoming show at Galway Arts Centre, which runs concurrently with the rescheduled Galway international Arts Festival in September 2021.


A painter and sculptor living and working in Ireland, Mick O’Dea is past President of the Royal Hibernian Academy, a member of Aosdána, an Honorary Member of the Royal Scottish Academy, a Fellow of the Anatomical Society, Chairman of the Stamp Design Advisory Committee for An Post and a past member of the Board of Governors and Guardians of the National Gallery of Ireland.

His work is included in many public and corporate collections in Ireland, Latvia, the United States, and France, including the National Gallery of Ireland, The Crawford Municipal Gallery in Cork, The Royal Hibernian Academy, The National Concert Hall, Government Buildings and Leinster House. In addition, Mick’s work is featured in many private collections in Europe, the U.S., and Asia.

Kathleen Furey with her currach which is now on display in the island’s church. Photo by Rynes Walker.


Based in Oughterard, Kathleen Furey is from Galway and a founder member of Artspace Studios. Kathleen studied painting at the Limerick School of Art and Design, graduating in 1984. Recent work reflects on how we discover traces of people who lived before us and how we interpret their stories and histories.

Her work, which includes painting, drawing, and mixed media prints, has been exhibited both at home and abroad and is included in public and private collections. While researching artists who had visited Inis Oirr, Kathleen discovered that Harry Clare spent six summers on the island and loved the landscape and the people. She has copied Harry’s stained glass window painting of St Gobnait for this project. The original image shows St Gobnait surrounded by bees and warding off the plague, making it so apt for an exhibition in the time of a global pandemic!

‘The Worm’ by Jennifer Cunningham and Tim Acheson. Photograph by Cormac Coyne.



A visual artist who works in a wide range of media including paint, printmaking, drawing, model making, film and digital media, theatre and set design, Jennifer Cunningham has won many awards for her work including the Thomas Damann Travel Award (2008) and Taylor Art Award (2002). Her ‘After the Future’ solo show at the Galway International Arts Festival (GIAF) in 2018 received a five-star review in The Irish Times. In 2020 she was commissioned by the GIAF to design the festival poster.

Jennifer’s partner, Tim Acheson, has worked on this project with her. A visual artist based in Tuam, Tim’s practice consists of object making, video and field recording. Tim was a member of Engage Art Studios from 2009-2015 and is currently a member of Interface Inagh. Jennifer and Tim frequently collaborate together and previous exhibitions include work for Galway 2020, 126,  M.A.R.T, and the R.H.A.

The currach by Dara McGee, Artistic Director of Aras Eanna. Photo by Cormac Coyne.


Dara is a Fine Art graduate of the Belfast College of Art. He has worked as a set and production designer in film, theatre, and television. He was production designer for the  film of Mairtín O Cadhain’s ‘Cre na Cille’ and has designed sets for many theatre companies including Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, Fibín, Decadent Theatre and Macnas.

Dara has featured in several solo and group painting exhibitions in Ireland and Norway. A native of Salthill, Galway City, Dara has been the Artistic Director of Áras Éanna Arts Centre, Inis Oírr, since 2017.


An audio-visual artist who works in a variety of media and interdisciplinary projects, Breda Burns is regularly involved in socially engaged practice which combines sound, video, radio broadcast, performance and large-scale visuals. Her solo exhibitions include The Hamilton Gallery, The Luan Gallery, The Green Fuse Gallery, The Model Arts Centre, Áras Inis Gluaire, Claremorris Gallery and The Custom House.

Residencies and awards include a Visual Arts Bursary Award from the Arts Council of Ireland; Krems, Austria; Ballinglen Arts Foundation; and Farbe Bekennen, Germany. Breda was awarded the Bealtaine Artist 2017 Award. She works from her own studio in Westport, Co Mayo.

The curach by John Behan RHA, which is on display in the theatre at Áras Éanna. Photo by Cormac Coyne.


Born in Dublin in 1938, and now living and working in Galway City, John Behan is firmly established as a sculptor of international stature. The foundations for Behan’s success were laid in the 1960s, when he trained in London and Oslo and began to exhibit widely. But he also had a wider artistic vision, which saw him challenge the elitism of the art establishment and seek to popularise art.

John was a founder member of the New Artists’ group in 1962 and Dublin’s innovative Project Art Centre in 1967. He has been awarded many honours and became a Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1990, having been an Associate of the Academy since 1973. He is also a member of Aosdána.

  • The ‘Curacha’ exhibition continues all around Inis Oirr until Saturday, September 11.

Read about seven more artists in the ‘Curacha’ exhibition here: