Archive for March 17th, 2023


Paul Henry- The Fairy Thorn, 1936

When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious.

― Edna O’Brien

I thought since this was St. Patrick’s Day that I would feature an Irish painter. There are a couple of obvious choices– Francis Bacon and Jack Butler Yeats, for example– but I chose Paul Henry, who spent his life painting his native Ireland from 1877 until 1958. He was perhaps the best-known painter in Ireland through the first half of the 20th century though many of us here in the States may not recognize the name.

You will however recognize the familiarity of his landscapes, most set in the west of Ireland in the Connemara district, an area described by Oscar Wilde as “a savage beauty.”  For many, Henry’s landscapes represent the idealized image of the Irish countryside with simple white cottages set among stark, barren hills and rolling green fields. But his greens are not that bright Kelly green so often used in depicting Ireland. No, Henry often chose blue and brown tints in his work.  He used a very distinct and deceptively cool palette in his painting which enhances the earthy coolness and solitary nature of the landscapes.

So, even if you haven’t even a wee bit of Irish blood, I hope you will enjoy these images of Eire. Here’s a song I like very much from Ireland’s own Lisa Hannigan recorded in a pub on the Dingle peninsula of Ireland. Might not be one of those songs you normally hear on this day but it’s as Irish as any of them.

{This post is from several years ago but has been embellished with the Edna O’Brien quote and the Lisa Hannigan song.}

Paul HenryPaul Henry The Fishing Fleet Galway

(c) Queen's University, Belfast; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Paul Henry Killary BayPaul Henry A Farm in County DownPaul Henry A Connemara Village 1933-34Paul Henry - Connemara Landscape

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