Achill Painters book to be launched 

John F Deane, the Achill-born author and founder of Poetry Ireland, will be the special guest at the outdoor launch of ACHILL PAINTERS: An Island History, at 3pm on Saturday, August 1 in Dooagh, Achill.

Famed local historian, John ‘Twin’ McNamara, will launch Mary J Murphy’s new book, her fourth, at Lourdies, and Anne Burke will be guest speaker. The event is being hosted by Scoil Acla, celebrating the 35th anniversary of its revival in 2020.

Widely acclaimed for her sweeping biography of Achill’s Eva O’Flaherty eight years ago the author returns once more to her beloved island, this time to explore, with enormous enthusiasm and authenticity, its rich history of painters.

This lambent study, coming 100 years after Paul Henry departed Achill in 1919, celebrates the intriguing story of Belgian expressionist Marie Howet’s fifty-three year love affair with that island through her friendships with art doyenne O’Flaherty and the Burke family of Dooagh.

Its contents arc from the 1830s paintings of William Evans of Eton right up to the contemporary work of so many deeply talented island-connected painters. With charm, exuberance, and not a little courage, this unique compilation sets out to blend seamlessly both art and island history.

Howet, well known in her native land and across Europe, knew G.B. Shaw, was praised by Matisse, and was admired by Derek Hill, Padraic Colum and Nano Reid.

The absorbing text, utterly uncompromising in its exhaustive research, provides too an in depth examination of Howet’s 1934 masterpiece, ‘A La Source D’Ara’, which brims with stunning ‘aquarelles’ of Achill Island.

This is the first time that so many names of Achill painters have been gathered together, and the book has an expansive appeal for both the general reader and for anyone who has ever been stricken by Achill’s inexplicable but hypnotic magneticism.

Compiled by a writer who has been going to the island for decades, and driven by her ongoing obsession with the life of Caherlistrane-born Eva O’Flaherty, this is Mary J Murphy’s impressive homage to what Percy French - an Achill painter too - called “the island of my dreams”.

The mother of three, Mary is from Menlough in east Galway but has called Caherlistrane - Eva’s birthplace - home for many years. ACHILL PAINTERS will be available from Achill Tourism, The Beehive Coffee Shop, Sweeney’s, & The Achill Heritage Centre, Achill.


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