Thursday 20 June 2019

Helen O'Leary's Achill - 'the sublime on steroids'


Helen O'Leary
Helen O'Leary

Sarah Caden

Achill Island is the sublime on steroids. It's the edge of the edge; bog, rock, stone, whitewashed cubes, sea. I fell in love with it a long time ago while in residence at the Heinrich Boll Cottage for its artist's residency.

I drive there through Turlough, Co Mayo and stop at the Museum of Country Life. It's a living dictionary of everything we have forgotten; I see something new each time. 

I then nose on, past the Sound, through that long line of a road through the bog. I stay at the Bervie B&B in Keel and head up to Lourdie's in Dooagh for a pint on Friday evening. 

For Saturday lunch, I follow the coast road to the newly revived Amethyst Bar, - if it's good enough for John Lennon and Yoko Ono, it's good enough for me.

I seldom visit Achill without a spin up to the cliffs at Keem Bay. I've only made it to the top twice. It knocks the socks off of the Cliffs of Moher: there's no one selling tickets, there's no Coke machine, and selfie sticks are few and far between.

Sunday morning, I head over to the Beehive in Dugort for coffee. I visit artist duo  Francis Van Maele and Antic-Ham at Redfoxpress, and rummage around in their gallery of hand-made books.

I head back home through Newport, stopping into St Patrick's Church for the Harry Clarke windows and a bite to eat at The Grainne Uaile bar. 


Helen O'Leary's work appears in the Hennessy Art Fund for Imma exhibition, Imma, D8. Free in, see

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