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  •  A solo show of new work by Margaret Corcoran, Emergence will open on Sept 30th at 7.30pm 

George Moore Society's Famine Gollection

Mr Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for the Arts, Heritage and Gaeltactht Affairs, officially opened an important exhibition at Claremorris Gallery on Saturday March 29th.  The exhibition includes paintings and sculpture from the George Moore Society’s Famine Collection.  It features large-scale works by some of the country’s most renowned modern and contemporary painters including Louis le Brocquy, Hughie O’Donoghue, Basil Blackshaw, Bernadette Kiely, Tony O’Malley, Brian Bourke and Micheal Farrell.  The exhibition represents just half of the George Moore’s Society’s entire Famine collection which is being exhibited in Ireland for the first time in almost twenty years.  The exhibition which appears on the front page of the Irish Times on March 31st along with a piece by Lorna Siggins on page seven will also feature on RTE's Nationwide program on April 9th.


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The George Moore Society was founded and chaired by Dr Patricia Noone of Claremorris in 1989 with the mission of celebrating the life and works of the Mayo writer George Moore of Moorehall near Carnacun.  Throughout the 1990s the Society coordinated annual arts festivals and brought to Claremorris writers such as Seamus Heaney, Anthony Cronin, Ulick O’Connor, Brian Moore, Paul Durcan, Benedict Kiely and Mary O’Malley.

In his lifetime George Moore was himself a keen art enthusiast having studied painting in France before turning his attention to literature where he felt his true talent laid. But his contribution to the visual life of Ireland cannot be overlooked having greatly influenced Hugh Lane in the acquisition of work for what is now at the core of the Hugh Lane Municipal Collection in Dublin.  In celebration of the Mayo writer’s contribution to Ireland’s visual cultural legacy the George Moore Society over the years programmed numerous art exhibitions.

In addition to the Society’s annual local festivities the George Moore Society programmed many international cultural activities. They curated Joycesight a show on James Joyce which toured to Rome, Trieste and Paris.  They also commissioned a musical by Charlie Lennon which was performed in the New York Lincoln Centre as well as touring to Australia.  In 2005 they organised an exhibition Asylum, by Irish artist Mary Kelly to commemorate the closure of Saint Mary’s Hospital in Castlebar and that exhibition later toured to Chicago. In recent years they collaborated with the American Irish Historical Society in Manhattan to tour Another Island, a group show of Irish contemporary art.

Perhaps the most significant of their projects was the Famine Exhibition which took place in 1995.  It was curated in commemoration of the Great Famine and artists were invited to make work in response to that historic theme. It featured work by the most established living Irish painters of the day and it opened in the Old Cinema Building in Claremorris before being opened by the then President Mary Robinson at the Guinness Hopstore in Dublin. It then toured Ireland north and south and on to Boston College. 

Recognising the importance of the work that was produced for this exhibition the George Moore Society decided to establish a permanent art collection for the county.  To this end they endeavoured to fundraise locally and nationally from businesses, private individuals as well as corporate support.  Some of the artists involved donated or made partial donations of their work. The local support at the time was strong enough for the Society to acquire approximately forty major works.  This collection has since gained significant value.  It is the hope of the George Moore Society that the collection will find a permanent home in the town and become a year round attraction for art enthusiasts throughout the country. 

In the meantime, for the month of April of this year works from the society’s collection will be displayed for public viewing at Claremorris Gallery, which is owned and run by Rosemarie Noone, daughter of Patricia Noone the founder of George Moore Society.  The exhibition will be featured on RTE’s nationwide in the coming weeks.


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