Irish Emigration in 12 Paintings

Dr Patrick Fitzgerald with President Zoe Reid

Omagh & District Ladies’ Probus had their monthly meeting on Thursday, 7 March in Omagh Library.  The guest speaker on this occasion was Dr Patrick Fitzgerald from the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies.

Dr Fitzgerald focused his talk on the power of illustration.  His interest in this began when he was organizing an exhibition called “Emigrants” in 1994 for the Ulster-American Folk Park which covered 2 centuries of emigration.  It formed the basis of the book he co-authored with Brian Lambkin:  “Migration in Irish History: 1607 – 2007”

Artists in the 18th century tended to focus their work on pastoral scenes as they worked for commission at that stage, so they tended to produce “pretty” scenes for their patrons.  It was not until 1800 that work depicting Irish emigration was produced, and we were shown a painting by John James Barralet, himself an immigrant to America, which showed people arriving in America.  The title of this painting was “Liberty welcoming the arrival of the Immigrants”.

Dr Fitzgerald then illustrated his talk on Irish emigration with paintings from a variety of artists, including Joseph Barbour+, Samuel Waugh, Elizabeth, Lady Butler, Jack Yeats and Sean Keating among others.

Lena Rutledge spoke on behalf of the members and thanked Dr Fitzgerald for his most interesting talk which kept everyone fascinated.

New members, or those who may just be interested in joining Omagh & District Ladies’ Probus would be welcome to attend our next meeting when our speaker will be Sir Bob Salisbury.   This meeting will be at 2pm on Thursday 4th April in Omagh Library.