Artist working To the Letter in Fermoy and Mitchelstown

an image of a book

On April 2nd the usually closed doors of ‘The Coal Shed’ in Fermoy will open to the public, revealing “To The Letter” an exhibition commissioned as part of Cork County Council’s Commemorations Programme. 

Through the exhibition, award-winning artist and theatre designer Dolores Lyne is marking the centenary of her grand-uncle Liam Lynch, Chief of Staff of the Anti-Treaty IRA. Inspired by a trove of personal letters written by Liam to his brother Tom, the confidant in whom he felt safe writing unique letters that covered the most dramatic and tragic events of Lynch’s life in the War of Independence and the Civil War.

Works on canvas, the paintings focus on incidents and stories drawn from the brothers’ correspondence. The letters are brought to life, referencing real places and people only hinted at or concealed behind initials, decoding at last the real addresses, the people who opened their homes and their hearts.  

‘To The Letter’ will initially be presented in three linked exhibitions, in Fermoy and Mitchelstown public libraries and in a repurposed historic building – ‘The Coal Shed’ in Blackwater Shopping Centre, Fermoy.  Unchanged in a century the atmospheric ‘Coal Shed’ directly connects the artworks to the era. Filled with Dolores Lyne’s exciting new works it will be a dramatic space to encounter these important paintings, and a powerful exploration of Cork history. Announcing the exhibitions, Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Danny Collins commended the artist and the Commemoration Committees,

This exhibition is a sensitive exploration of Liam Lynch’s activities in County Cork. Combining personal letters and archive material, with research and her painting practice, Dolores Lyne has brought a unique perspective on our history.

Dolores followed the letters back to the locations across County Cork where they were written, visiting remote and beautiful hill farms, the safe houses that provided sanctuary where Liam was protected and cherished. She met the descendants of those who had sheltered him, and they shared their stories with her.

According to Dolores, ‘There’s the ‘public Liam’ but these are private letters. They provided me with the spark for a personal, non-political contemplation of his last years, the places where he stayed and the people who looked after him. It’s my creative response, as an artist. I am very grateful to John Finucane for making the stunning building ‘The Coal Shed’ available for the exhibition, and also to Cork County Council and the volunteers from the Liam Lynch Fermoy Commemoration Committee.’

Deputy Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Deirdre O' Brien and Gerard Shannon, historian and biographer of Liam Lynch will officially open the exhibition at 3pm on April 2nd, 2023.

The exhibition in The Coal Shed runs from April 2nd to 12th from 11.00am to 6.00pm and coincides with the Liam Lynch commemorations in Fermoy. Exhibitions at Fermoy and Mitchelstown Libraries are available to visit during library hours for the month of April.

The “To the Letter” exhibitions were commission by Cork County Council’s Arts and Heritage Offices, supported by the County Library Service and Commemorations Committee of Cork County Council.