Coffee with Culture in Cork


imageI dropped into the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork this morning for coffee. This was my first visit to this really impressive space, housed in the former Custom House dating from 1724 with later additions.

There are permanent collections of art and sculpture from the 16th to the 21st century, including  works by well-known Irish artists such as Le Brocquy, Ireland’s well-known stained glass artist Harry Clarke as well as Cork’s own master sculptor Seamus Murphy. With a half hour to spare I took a whistle-stop tour of just a few of the rooms.

The staircase

The staircase

On the staircase too..


A contemporary stained glass window

From the Harry Clarke room

And Le Brocquey

Le Brocquey' s distinctive style

Le Brocquey’ s distinctive style – there are three of his works here

The highlight for me today was the Sculpture room, containing among others, Canova (1757 – 1822) casts from the Vatican –  beautiful works of human anatomy made under the supervision of one of Italy’s finest sculptors. These casts of classical sculptures in the Vatican had been made by order of Pope Pius VII, to be presented to the Prince Regent of England (later King George IV) in gratitude for his help in the return of treasures looted by Napoleon. The Prince Regent was apparently  underwhelmed by this gift, not least because of their size and number. They arrived at the London Custom House in the early 19th century and were then housed in a tent before eventually arriving in Cork, a move facilitated by Lord Listowel, then president of  Cork Society of Arts.

I was delighted to see in the midst of all this beautiful classical work, an exhibit from Cork’s own stonemason extraordinaire,Séamus Murphy.

Seamus Murphy

Seamus Murphy’s Virgin of the Twilight.

The Crawford Gallery owes much to its benefactor, who invested well around Cork


The Crawford Gallery is a place that invites visit after visit after visit, and  guarantees new delights at each return. Anyone for coffee?



Filed under Ireland, Irish Culture, Irish Heritage

5 responses to “Coffee with Culture in Cork

  1. I’d love a coffee… another to add to the list.

  2. Whenever I’m in Cork city (increasingly rarely) I make a beeline for the Crawford. I never fail to be moved by the Harry Clarke ‘Eve of St Agnes’ pieces.

  3. Make mine black, please! What a spectacular place to have coffee! My favorites were the contemporary stained glass window and the Murphy’s virgin – stunning! Thanks for sharing the art and history with us!

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