Come Back to Erin: Irish Travel Posters of the 20th Century
An exciting new exhibition featuring a selection of 20th century travel and tourism posters will be presented by the Ward Irish Music Archives.
These strikingly colourful posters feature the work of world famous artists like Paul Henry and Norman Wilkinson, the distinctive images will be a trip down memory lane for many people. In the early decades of the last century mass tourism began to develop and with it came a surge in promotional activity. A very popular and highly visible element was the travel poster. Some posters, such as the ones by Paul Henry, became best sellers almost immediately and are still essential images of Ireland.
Initially the posters were commissioned by Irish and British railway companies. These include CIE and its predecessor Great Southern Railways, and also British Railways and its predecessors. After World War II, airlines such as Aer Lingus, TWA and American Airlines also began to issue posters as an important part of their marketing campaigns.
The exhibition focuses on some of the prime examples of Irish poster art. Many feature famous Irish tourist locations such as Killarney, Connemara, Glendalough and the Giants Causeway. Other images are not place-specific but feature familiar scenes of upland well-proportioned landscapes, big skies, lakes and coasts. Of course there are also stereotypical Irish images of thatched houses, ruins, round towers, jaunting cars and inscribed high crosses. The aim was to create an attractive marketing image, presenting Ireland as happily old fashioned, but which could be visited by the most modern means of travel.
We hope you enjoy this journey back in time!
Poster Artist: Paul Henry (11 April 1876 – 24 August 1958)
Paul Henry was a Northern Irish artist who painted the west of Ireland landscape with a spare post-impressionist style.
Paul Henry was born in Belfast, Ireland, the son of a Baptist minister. He studied art in Belfast before going to Paris in 1898 to study at the Académie Julian and at Whistler's studio. He married the painter Grace Henry in 1903 and returned to Ireland in 1910. From then, until 1919, he lived on Achill Island and learned to capture the peculiar interplay of light and landscape specific to the West of Ireland. In 1919 he moved to Dublin and in 1920 was one of the founders of the Society of Dublin Painters. He separated from his wife in 1929.
In the 1920s and 1930s Paul Henry was Ireland's best known artist, one who had a considerable influence on the popular image of the west of Ireland. Although he seems to have ceased experimenting with his technique after he left Achill and his range is limited, he created a large body of fine images whose familiarity is a testament to its influence. The National Gallery of Ireland held a major exhibition of his work in 2004.
A painting by Paul Henry was featured on the BBC show, The Antiques Roadshow which was aired on the 12 of November 2006. The painting was given a value of approximately £40,000 - £60,000 by the roadshow. However, due to the buoyancy of the Irish art market, it sold for an astonishing 260,000 euro on 5 December 2006 in James Adams' and Bonhams' joint Important Irish Art sale.