This week I am looking at an important exhibition that has been running since the beginning of the month, and continues until 20 October.

Presented in partnership with the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts (RHA) and Ballina Arts Centre, this is a specially curated selection from the RHA Members Collection inspired by the west of Ireland. It marks 300 years of Ballina and 200 years of the RHA, and it is showing on weekdays only from now until the end of its run. Admission is free.

Ballina 2023

The exhibition is part of the Ballina 2023 celebrations, and it is the first time the entire membership of the RHA has shown together in the west of Ireland. It features over 50 works by artists such as Mick O’Dea, Aideen Barry, Donald Teskey and Alice Maher.

The RHA is regarded by many as the home of Irish art, and was founded in Dublin in 1823, the result of a campaign by 30 Irish artists for a permanent space in the city to display their works and promote greater public interest in the arts. Over the past two centuries, its members have included many of the most important Irish artists from the 19th and 20th centuries.


A powerhouse of the arts, and one of the premier art spaces in Ireland (and a must-see if you are in the capital and have an hour or three to spare), it is steered by an artist-run academy. It exhibits a wide range of contemporary art in its annual public programmes, including its renowned annual exhibition, while respecting and celebrating traditional art forms.

Speaking about the current show in Ballina, RHA director Patrick T Murphy said: “This exhibition recognises the magnetism of the west and more recently the draw of north Mayo for artists. Many do not only visit but reside in the beauty and the challenge of its location.”

Indeed, since the late 19th century, the west of Ireland has been an inspiration for artists. In its topography, artists found both beauty and awe, something that is still evident today. The original focus was south and north Connemara, with its indented coastline and the rising majesty of the Twelve Bens, but since the late 1990s the focus has shifted to north Mayo, the land located above the diagonal from Westport to Ballina. A selection of works representing this underpins the RHA West exhibition.


Visitors to the exhibition will marvel at our how the Atlantic landscape has inspired so many talented and accomplished Irish artists. If you are in the area on 12 October, there will be a masterclass on Plein Air painting with Blaise Smith, while a few days after the official exhibition ends, artist Niamh O’Malley will give a presentation on her participation at the Venice Biennale 2022.

Dublin Theatre Festival

Just underway, and running until 15 October, The Dublin Theatre Festival is one of the most important artistic events of the year. With almost 40 productions taking place, the programme is certainly ambitious, and they are as diverse as you could imagine.

There is a strong international presence of contemporary theatre, including works from Brazil and Belguim. There will undoubtedly be something to take your fancy but book quickly to avoid disappointment.