An Artist Stroll Through Gorey by Michael O’Callaghan
I am old enough to remember The Gorey Arts Festivals and the great enrichment in the artistic and cultural lives of the people in Gorey and surrounding areas for the duration of the three week-long festivals. This activity was enabled by that artistic genius Paul Funge. He was a trail blazer in the artistic world creating the first arts centre outside of Dublin.
In recent years Gorey Arts School has become a reality providing a range of PLC and film courses as well as having its very own periphery space which has hosted many exhibitions. I can recall many winners of Texaco Art awards from Gorey Community school inspired by so many great art teachers over the years. It is fitting that Gorey should be home to an Art School.
Now in retirement I love taking leisurely strolls around Gorey town because of the stimulating outdoor and indoor artistic experiences that lurk around every corner.
As I ramble downtown on a nice sunny November morning I turn right and stroll down the Avenue to view the murals in Gorey Civic Square. I just love this colourful area of our town with the wall of murals, all executed by multi-talented young local artists. I note the names appended to the murals.
Oenone [Nonie] Stafford
Nonie studied Visual Communications in the National College of Art and design and now specialises in graphic design, calligraphy, and illustration.
When I first looked at this mural of her artistic creation, I was struck by the welcoming aspect of it on the first panel and the clear message of respect for Gorey.
She has also depicted the 1798 Monument, St Michael’s Pugin designed church while The Market house and Gorey Hill are clearly recognisable. People can readily identify with them.
Nonie designed that lovely ornate piece of artwork over the Archway going into the Cosy Cottage Restaurant in Esmonde Street and that very creative sign at the entrance to Different Strokes with a quote from Edgar Eager.
Nonie who hails from Gorey, currently resides in Camolin.
The next mural along the wall is executed by local artist Amanda Doran. She has included local trader, John Doyle, proprietor of Myles Doyle’s, established in 1966, and whose shop signage on Main Street is a work of art in itself.
She also depicts another Gorey institution, Frenchs Bar whose shop front is unique in Gorey and is a local monument to Artistic life in Gorey.
Also included is a lovely street busker and a back-to-school reminder all brilliantly painted.
Amanda grew up in Gorey. She completed her bachelor’s degree in art at the National College of Art and Design and has had several displays since.
We are so fortunate to have her work freely available to view as public art on The Avenue.
The James Kirwan contribution to the mural wall in Gorey Civic Square includes a very eye-catching goat with historical significance. On his twitter page James tells us that ‘Guaire ‘, in Irish means bristle, and is thought to have come from when the shoemakers settled in Gorey and used the hair of goats in their trade. An interesting fact indeed.
I now go back up North Parade and down Pearse Street to view another James Kirwan mural on the side wall of Gorey Little Theatre, itself a mecca for cultural events. This is really a huge mural depicting actors who have thread the boards there over the years.
I walk down Rafter Street over St Michael’s Road where once again I am stopped in my tracks by the gaping jaws of an albino baby alligator so brilliantly executed on the walls of Different Strokes art shop by the same James Kirwan.
James, born on the Carnew Road, went to school in Gorey Community School before going on to study art in Dublin. He now works out of his studios in Dublin.
I just love “Different Strokes” on St Michael’s Road, which is a well-stocked, friendly, helpful, independently owned art supplies shop. The signage for this art supplier is unique being a quote from Edgar Eager, the French artist 1834–1917“Art is not what you see but what you make others see”. As already stated, this was designed and painted by Nonie Stafford.
The window display is amazing and really stops you in your tracks. Each bit of window display is used to the full with books, easels, paints, brushes, rollers, jigsaws, and I love their creative use of colour and space.
Sara stocks a huge range of materials to satisfy the artistic needs of all from youth to old age, from amateur to discerning artists.
Different Strokes is owned and run by local woman Sara Redmond.
Market Square www.ds-art.ie
I just had to nip round to the Market Square to view the latest addition to Gorey murals by father and son team Adam [ ADW] and Darren Warren.
This is in a lovely location looking down on The Ram graveyard and the history of all this area is so intertwined with the Ram family and the history of the town of Gorey.
This fantastic mural in Market Square depicts the history of Gorey over the past 400 years.
The domed shape of the right-hand side of this mural enhances the overall effect in the Market Square car park. It is visually colourful, dynamic and eye catching.
The Warrens are great exponents of public art for the people and what better way to bring local history to life than with a public mural or two.
Returning to St Michaels Road I note the premises of Kate Kos. She is a self-taught Polish artist who has lived and painted in Wexford for the past sixteen years. Her fondness for light makes watercolours her favourite art medium.
In the mural wall in Gorey Civic Park, she painted a lovely mural entitled “A view from Clonattin”. which is breath taking.
I love Kates 21/22 calendars with her watercolour paintings of such places as Courtown, Cahore, Curracloe,Hook Head, Castletown, and other venues. We bought the 20/21 and sent them as Christmas presents and now, they hang in kitchens from New York to Perth giving Gorey people vivid images from County Wexford and lovely memories of home.
In addition to her calendars Kate also sells her own artwork, which is on permanent display in her studio, and she has a lovely range of Gorey, floral, and greeting postcards all featuring her artwork for sale. Kate also teaches art and has given many workshops. www.katekos.com
Eoin O Connor
Around the corner in 4 Esmonde Street, we have Eoin O Connor, who lives in Aughrim and whose artistic and distribution base is in Gorey. Eoin’s prints and work are sold in over 400 premises around Ireland, and he has a brisk online business.
When you enter his Gorey store you are immediately struck by the vibrancy of his colours. There are a series of framed doggie prints on the back wall that jump out at you. The walls of the gallery are adorned with his seascapes and landscapes.
The display stands are full of his very colourful printed cards and notebooks.
I was particularly impressed by his range of cushions with dog and cow prints. Once again, they are in brilliant vibrant colours.
Since 2019 Eoin has been working in conjunction with Tipperary Crystal producing a range of café products such as mugs, bowls, egg cups which are all very attractive and will make excellent unique Christmas presents. www.eoinoconnor.com
. The Gaslamp Gallery -Art Gallery & Bespoke Picture Framing …
I love this gallery established over 9 years ago on Esmonde Street in Gorey by Claire O Connell. Her Oregon roots are evident in the lovely rustic displays. The Gaslamp is now an established part of the Gorey arts scene.
Claire stocks a huge range of both originals and prints, and her framing service is in much demand. The ever-changing window displays are always so well presented, and their seasonal displays are stunning. They are compelling viewing, and you just must stop and admire them.
On their website The Gaslamp Gallery state that they offer a selection of works by local, Irish & international artists for sale in the gallery and online. The gallery has exclusive rights to the sale of the multi award winning local artist Kevin Roche’s works. Each Limited Edition is both signed and numbered individually by the artist and is supplied with a Certificate of Authenticity.
Their autumnal window display with suitable autumn framed prints and autumnal wreaths is attracting much attention and deservedly so because of its creativity and design. I just automatically stop and view it during my evening stroll down Esmonde. Street.
Incidentally it was Claire who first introduced the now famous Gorey Halloween witches to the town when she started off with just 2 in 2014 with the design coming from her native Oregon. Thank you Claire. www.thegaslampgallery.com
Caroline Bergin teaches Art and sells artistic supplies and paintings further down Esmonde Street.
Caroline, who hails from Gurteen, Castletown qualified in the National College of Art and Design.
She provides a varied programme of Art and craft classes for kids and adults.
In addition to her classes Caroline is providing a base for local crafters to sell their wares and she also sells her own Art works.
You can follow Caroline on www.carolineredmondart.com
Robert O Connor
Many moons ago I went to woodturning classes in Gorey Community School. I managed to carve out an eggcup, a wooden bowl, and a lamp. I was very proud of my efforts, but I realised my limitations and decided not to pursue woodturning.
Nowadays I stop and admire the wonderful displays of woodcarvings in Robert O Connor’s shop window and workshop on the Arklow Road in Gorey.
Those pieces are truly beautiful individual works of art lovingly carved by a patient woodturner and make great presents for discerning people.
Pat Hurney, Gorey Framing, Courtown Road
For many years Paul Funge painted a scene of some part of Gorey for the Funge’s annual shop calendar. The shop posted the calendar to Gorey people worldwide free of charge.
Over the years we collected them all and had them framed by Pat Hurney of Gorey Framing on the Courtown Road and they now enhance our living space at home.
Pat’s family ran Hurneys Stores on Main Street, Gorey. They were part of the fabric of Gorey Main Street but like so many things the shop is now just a memory.
Gorey Visitor Centre
As I walk up and down Main Street Gorey, I pass the Market House which has been in existence here since either 1709 or 1790.
It has had many adaptations and uses over the centuries including being central to the 1798 rebellion in Gorey.
Nowadays it is home to Gorey Tourist Office but is also an artistic hub providing bespoke Irish craft and design with a venue to showcase and sell their work. It is well worth a visit.
Gorey Art Collective
This is a non-profit artist-based group. Based in Trillium House, St Michael’s Place, Gorey. It was established to support the local art community by providing an affordable creative space and organising artist talks, workshops, and exhibitions. Their goal is to create a community established on the free exchange of ideas and resources.
Gorey is also home to a busy tattoo or personal artwork business with Homeward Bound in 29 Main Street, Gorey
We are very well served by the hugely talented artistic community in Gorey.We can support them in what they do for us by buying all our art supplies locally. There is no need to travel to neighbouring towns as we are more than adequately served by our present excellent art shops and galleries.
Christmas is just around the corner so make out your artistic shopping list now, give your children and grandchildren some artistic stimulants such as sketch pads, paints, colouring books, crayons, pencils etc. Hang up their creations, encourage them and make the next generation of Gorey people even more artistically and aesthetically aware and enriched than the present one.
Live life local. Shop local, shop artistically and the Gorey art community will love you for it.
Michael O Callaghan