Art, Ireland, and the Irish Diaspora: Chicago, Dublin, New York, 1893–1939 Culture, Connections & Controversies


Éimear O’Connor

September 2020 

Follow-on title from Éimear O’Connor’s hugely successful biography of Seán Keating.

Beautifully illustrated and designed in colour, with a wealth of Irish fine art paintings and images, featuring Jack B. Yeats, Seán Keating, William Orpen, John Lavery, Harry Kernoff, Hugh Lane, George Russell, Patrick Tuohy, Robert Flaherty.


ISBN: 9781788551496 Categories: , , ,


Winner of the inaugural Lawrence J. McCaffrey Prize for a book on Irish America by the American Conference of Irish Studies.

Art, Ireland, and the Irish Diaspora reveals a labyrinth of social and cultural connections that conspired to create and sustain an image of Ireland for the nation and for the Irish diaspora between 1893 and 1939. This era saw an upsurge of interest among patrons and collectors in New York and Chicago in the ‘Irishness’ of Irish art, which was facilitated by gallery owners, émigrés, philanthropists, and art-world celebrities.

Leading Irish art historian Éimear O’Connor, explores the ongoing tensions between those in Ireland and the expatriate community in the US, split as they were between tradition and modernity, and between public expectation and political rhetoric, as Ireland sought to forge a post-Treaty international identity through its visual artists.

Featuring a glittering cast of players including Jack. B. Yeats, George Russell (AE), Lady Gregory, and Seán Keating, and richly illustrated in colour with images from archives on both sides of the Atlantic, Art, Ireland, and the Irish Diaspora presents a wealth of new research, and draws together, for the first time, a series of themes that bound the Dublin art scene with that in New York and Chicago through complex networks and contemporary publications at an extraordinary time in Ireland’s history.


  1. Images of Ireland at Home and Abroad: World’s Fairs and Emerging Networks, 1893–-1907
  • Mrs Alice Hart, Founder of the Donegal Fund – Context before Controversy
  • Lady Aberdeen – Context before Controversy
  • Chicago 1893 – Lady Aberdeen’s Irish Village
  • Chicago 1893 – Mrs Hart’s Irish Village
  • Here and There: Emerging Networks – Horace Plunkett
  • Here and There: Emerging Networks – George Russell (AE)
  • Here and There: Emerging Networks – John Quinn, lawyer, patron collector
  • Irish International Exhibition, Dublin, 1907
  1. From Here to There: Artists, Émigrés, Attitudes, and Markets, 1907–1924
  • Irish International, Madison Square Garden’s, New York, 1908: a point of permanent departure
  • Artists and Emigres – John Butler Yeats
  • Dublin: no stranger to modern art
  • Hugh Lane: gifting culture
  • ‘A Whirlwind on 26th Street’ – The Armory exhibition, 1913: Irish art amid the commotion
  • ‘America will seem very distant now’: art, politics, and the death of John Quinn
  • Interlude: Post-Treaty Context – A Ministry for Art in Ireland – Old Count Plunkett
  1. Revival and Renewal: Irish Art in America, 1924–1930
  • Context: Ireland to New York – Émigrés: Francis, Dominic and Edmund Byrne Hackett
  • Context: Setting the Scene for a Revival of Irish Art – Edmund Byrne Hackett and the Brick Row Bookshop, 1915
  • Artists and Émigrés – Michael Power O’Malley
  • Artists and Émigrés – Patrick Tuohy
  • The Helen Hackett Gallery
  • Irish Art Rooms, New York – a ‘revival’ of Irish art
  • Patrick Farrell and the Irish Art Rooms
  • Interlude
  1. The World of Tomorrow, 1930–1939
  • Robert Flaherty and Man of Aran: reactions and reality-Dublin and New York
  • America Called: Ireland, art, and the World’s Fair, New York, 1939

Epilogue, 1939–1951

  • The Cultural Relations Committee – marketing Irish art to America after the war
  • The Arts Council – a recognition of the importance of the arts to society

About the Author: Éimear O’Connor is an Honorary Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts. She is the author of Seán Keating in Context: Responses to Culture and Politics in Post-Civil War Ireland (2009), Seán Keating: Art, Politics and Building the Irish Nation (IAP, 2013) and Editor of Irish Women Artists 1800-2009: Familiar but Unknown (2010).

Praise for Art, Ireland, and the Irish Diaspora

‘Her text is written with exceptional clarity and skill and should appeal not only to lovers of the visual arts, but also to those interested in Irish social, economic and political history.’
Patrick J. Murphy, Irish Arts Review

‘Beautifully illustrated, and as rich in research detail as it is effective in filling gaps in the generally accepted narrative of this period of Irish art history.’
Cristín Leach, The Sunday Times

‘This well-researched book will be an invaluable source of information for anyone interested in Irish art, Irish culture and their promotion and development.’
Patricia Curtin Kelly, The Irish Story

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