Kerry, in particular, the landscapes and intense and unpredictable weather that mark out Ireland’s southwestern county, inspires countless people. So where can you check out some of the work that the county’s many visiting and resident artists have produced? Kerry galleries tend to be compact and slightly commercial-leaning, but they have plenty of shiny beauties hanging on their walls. There are lots of little spots to check out, but these are our favourites.
Peter Cox Photography Gallery
Peter Cox has a knack for capturing those Kerry landscapes – so often coated in clouds or drizzled with rain – in their best light. His gallery is as much a tourist store as a display space, with lots on offer to buy as well as ogle. The landscape-specialist snapper’s beautiful images range from the obvious (Skellig Michael, the best corners of the Ring of Kerry, and Carrauntoohil) to tiny, obscure laneways steeped in rugged drama. You don’t have to buy, obviously, but with free shipping and reasonable prices, you’ll certainly be tempted by the abundant prints.
Kerry Crafted Glass
The type of art that this place displays is fairly self-explanatory: Terence Mac Sweeney makes beautiful pieces of hand-blown glass, in the form of sculptures, vases, jugs, candlesticks, bowls, mirrors and clocks. Located in what looks very much like a typical rural Kerry house, experiencing Mac Sweeney’s workshop and his almost four decades of expertise in action is well worth the tiny-laned detour from the well-worn tourist trail. Call ahead to make sure that they’re open.
Killarney Art Gallery
A celebrated spot in the middle of Kerry’s tourist heartlands, Killarney Art Gallery has some unusual specialities. For example, the art space has high-end lithography, revolving landscape-leaning exhibitions (their most recent features beautiful local birds of prey), and prints from various artists who really capture a sense of old rural Ireland (Roisin O’Farrell’s cottage-like images of the inside of rural buildings are particularly sought after). Allow an hour at least to enjoy the colours in the enticing little rooms.
Dingle is better known for its music than its art, but a town this laden with culture was always going to have something visual worth exploring. Heavily focused on Irish artists, the several floors of Greenlane host an abundance of sculpture, fine art, landscapes and a dabbling in pretty much any other type of art you care to mention. Much of it’s for sale (though you’ll need deep pockets), with many visitors particularly taken with the jewellery.
Áine Ní Chíobháin's New Autumn Collection @GreenlaneDingle. Stunning new pieces showcasing our beautiful Peninsula. For full works & details visit http://eepurl.com/ceYPGo #ainenichiobhain #dingle #wildatlanticway #landscape #conorpass #gaeltacht #irishart #kerry 'For me art is a compulsion to connect with my surroundings, and create a sense of place. The process of making art is born out of innate curiosity and excitement at phenomenal occurrences around me.'
The Purcell Gallery
The artistic hub of tiny (but lovely) Kenmare, The Purcell is also very much locally leaning and locally inspired. Largely affordable (by art standards, at least), the target audience is visitors to the Ring of Kerry. It features rotating exhibitions, typically with themes, many of them based on the stunning local landscapes, depicted in everything from painstaking accuracy to broad, abstract brushstrokes. It’s a perfect reflection of Kerry itself, in other words.
Windmill Art Gallery
Named for the nearby Blennerville Windmill – a place to explore the potato famine, the colonial dominance of Ireland a century ago, and glance at the model railway – the Windmill Art Gallery exhibition is very much focused on similar themes. Expect to explore lots of historical stuff relevant to the windmill, including the original millstone and lots of gorgeous Blennervillle-connected paintings. Naturally, what you can buy is along similar lines, though much of the gallery is not for sale.