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Inchigeela - Two Centuries of Art

Our Parish is a place of great natural beauty.  The West Cork Lake District

The earliest illustration of Uibh Laoghaire was a panorama, published in the 1770, of Carrignacurra Castle and the Sheehy Mountains..

This scene was again drawn by the newspaper illustrator, O'Mahony, in the 1840's.  (O'Mahony was famous for his widely published scenes of the Great Famine.)

There are many pictures of Gougane to Inchigeela represented in the catalogue of the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork City:

1815 "Interior of Ruin at Gougane," John Grogan;
1828 (and (1843)  Views of Gougane Barra, Henry John Noblett;
1831 "Gougane Barra," George Petrie;
1869 "Rain Near Inchigeela," Henry A. Hartland;
1879 "Inchigeela Street Scene," Daniel Melise;
1883 "A Mist On The Lakes, Inchigeela," Henry A. Hartland (shown at Cork Industrial and Fine Arts Exhibition)

The famous art sculptor Richard Barter was born at Dromcarra in 1824.  Several examples of his work are to be seen at the Cork Crawford Municipal Art Gallery.

During the latter part of the 19th Century, with improved transport, the area become popular with holidaying artists.

Hugh Charde, Director of the Cork Art School, exhibited several landscapes of Inchigeela.

The early decades of the 20th Century saw many artists at work in Inchigeela.  Miss Scott a teacher in the Crawford School of Art   told her Cork art students in the 1920's that if they could paint in Inchigeela, they could paint anywhere.
Fred Archer, Frank Hourihan, students of Miss Scott and members of the Royal Hibernian Academy, remember their student days spend in Inchigeela, residing at the "LeeRestaurant."
The proprietors of the Lee Restaurant were Peter Dan O Leary (a tailor) and his wife.  The students were a dedicated group, often known as the "Inchigeela School."  Daniel Corkery was among this group - in addition to his many projects, Corkery was a valuable member of the Crawford Select Committee.  Much of the fine art collection assembled on display at the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery (Cork City) owes much to Corkery's direction. 

During our Daniel Corkery Landscape Exhibition in 1996, we saw an interesting scene of a steam engine in use at Ballingeary.

The beautifully illustrated "Sweet Cork of Thee" and "Lovely Is The Lee," show  Robert Gibbings' excellent woodcut illustrations of the Uibh Laoghaire area.

A contemporary of Gibbings was Sheamus Murphy, whose stone masonry art is portrayed in St, Finbarr's statue at the Ballingeary churchyard and the Tailor and Ansty Buckley's headstone at Gougane Barra.  Note the tweed pattern use to signify the tailor's trade.

In organizing the exhibition, "Inchigeela - Two Centuries of Art," sixteen professional artists were exhibited:   Fred Archer; Frank Oliney; Hugh Charde; Frank Hourihan; Tadg Lehane; Siobhan O'Leary; Tim Goulding; Daniel Corkery; Geraldine Creedon; Liam Lavery; Eithne Ring; Joe and Sue Keys; Pascal Cadosch; Rene Moser (Switzerland); Malese Bernsdorf  (Germany) and  Jack Jeffries (Canada).

Each  year, the Ballingeary Show has a well supported arts and crafts competition at which are exhibited some of the best of our local talent. 
The three churches in our Parish provide excellent opportunities to display the remarkable needlework of our various artists.  The main persons responsible for the work are Shelia (O Regan) Cronin, Inchigeela; the Cronin-Lucey  Family,     Gougane Barra; and Maura Riordan, Ballingeary.

All of us have admired the fine ironmongery shown in the gates that still can be found throughout the Parish.  One example of the craft can be found on the Inchigeela Village Hall, executed to the design of Fitzgerald Smith, Architects, Cork City.  The work was done by Con Manning, the last blacksmith to work in Inchigeela. Other members of the Manning family supplied blacksmithing work in Ballingeary.  The remaining blacksmith still working in the Parish is Danny O Leary of Keimaneigh.

Today we have art classes during the week in Inchigeela, under the dedicated instruction of Derek Mark.  Forty students partake in an annual class             exhibition.  Other artists in the area include leatherworkers, graphic designers,      basketweavers and other fine crafts people.  What a fitting way to finish the story of artists working in Uibh Laoghaire for two centuries.

I am indebted to Peter Murray and Nuala Fenton of the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery; Ian McDonough, Arts Officer of the Cork County Council; Sarah Iremonger; Malese Bernsdorf; Siobhan O'Leary; Celene Coakley and Margaret Cronin for their help with the art exhibitions held in 1996 and 1998.