WB Yeats Day, June 13th, Hamilton Gallery, Sligo, Ireland

Wood Cut Niamh Cunningham from Guanlan Printbase
Lonely Impulse 2 Woodcut 20x20cm Niamh Cunningham (Guanlan printmaking base residency 2018) 

In celebration of  Yeats day June 13th , the Hamilton Gallery opens this exhibition of more than 100 small sized works in the town of Sligo , the place the poet WB Yeats called his childhood and spiritual home. 

To mark the 100th Anniversary of the end of 1st World War Hamilton Gallery has chosen W B Yeats poem ‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death’ as the catalyst for its Invited Artists Exhibition 2018.  The poem addresses the dichotomy that existed and still exists around the Irish response to The Great War 1914 -1918.  And of course it is relevant to many families whose loved ones have served or are serving other nations which is more likely now in our globalized world. 


Opening reception at the Hamilton Gallery Sligo  , Yeats Day June 13th 2018 

Other related works: 

I have made a number of works relating to this particular poem over the years because of its personal significance. A large oil titled Lonely Impulse of Delight was exhibited in  IRISH WAVE  2015 exhibition at Dong Yue Art Musuem, Beijing, March 2015. 

An Irish Airman Foresees his Death
Lonely Impulse of Delight 110x 146cm Oil on Canvas Niamh Cunningham 2015



This work is based on the poem an “Irish Airman Foresees his Death”. The poem was written to honour the memory of Lady Gregory’s son Robert Gregory who died as a pilot in World War 1. There are two aircraft, the sopwith pup in the upper right represents Robert Gregory and the Black Hawk UH60 in the bottom left represents my bother Donie, Donal Cunningham CW2 (pilot), although not in combat, he died in service to the aviation section of the US army August 1995. Donie was born in Ithaca upstate New York, grew up in Carlow Ireland in our large family and later claimed US citizenship where he joined the US army to become a Black Hawk helicopter test pilot . 

Lonely Impulse of delight (small )25 x 34 cm Niamh Cunningham showing next to sculpture by Annette Hennessy , Leyden Gallery, London, Sept 2015

Later in October 2015   a smaller work  with different cloud formations was exhibited at the  Leyden Gallery, London, for the exhibition ‘Sailing to Byzantium’. 



He was the boldest most daring of siblings and very adventurous.  He is missed to this day by all his family . May he Rest In Peace. 



I am very honoured to be showing with so many renowned Irish artists, some of whom I got to know over the years on social media and others I have worked with before (thank you Patty Hudak) .


Sincere thanks to director of the gallery Martina Hamilton and to Ailbhe for all your hard work and patience .

The exhibition continues  till November 24  2018. 







An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

W. B. Yeats1865 – 1939


I know that I shall meet my fate

Somewhere among the clouds above;

Those that I fight I do not hate

Those that I guard I do not love;

My country is Kiltartan Cross,

My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,

No likely end could bring them loss

Or leave them happier than before.

Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,

Nor public man, nor cheering crowds,

A lonely impulse of delight

Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

I balanced all, brought all to mind,

The years to come seemed waste of breath,

A waste of breath the years behind

In balance with this life, this death.


Many thanks to Prof Fu Hao for his  Chinese translation of this poem included on the Chinese language version of this blog.