Celebrating Eileen Coghlan

Heroes of ancient myth, scenes of hearth and farm, strange lands and magical creatures... Kilbeggan’s own Eileen Coghlan (1909-1990) painted them all, and much else besides. At one time, practically every school student in Ireland knew her unique style from schoolbooks and children’s fiction. (search the library catalogue for works by Eileen Coghlan)

Kilbeggan Library is celebrating Eileen Coghlan with an exhibition. Her work is presented side-by-side with the art of local school students inspired by her style and themes.

We launched the exhibition on Thursday 20th with a talk by TP O’Gorman, who generously shared his treasure-trove of Eileen Coghlan books for the exhibition. TP is passionate about Eileen’s art because it is the very opposite of elitist – it was available to all, and it depicted a world familiar to children at the time. At a time when art and colour were scarcer than today, her work was an important part of the new Irish state creating an image of itself. We were delighted that relatives and friends of Eileen’s attended the launch and spoke.

Crucially, Eileen Coghlan’s work still speaks to young people – a fact we discovered through the contributions of students from five local schools.

The exhibition ran until Monday 24th October, with a reduced selection of Eileen’s and local students’ art on display for two weeks until 7th November.

Eileen Coghlan also featured as part of Westmeath Libraries' Spark of Genius exhibition