WPC: Intricate Irish Design

What pops into your mind when you think of Ireland? –Irish Pubs?  Peet bogs?  Poetry?  Dance?  The glorious Irish countryside?

If you’re like me, you don’t think of the Irish as masters of the decorative and fine arts.  Yes, it’s true that the Irish are famous for Waterford crystal–a fact which was burned into my memory from a young age.  When we visited my Irish granny for holiday dinners, we were warned about her collection of cut glass wine decanters and vases and stemware on display in a cabinet in her living room.  We were told that it was beautiful, expensive, and very fragile.  This fact was repeated to my sister and me as we ran through granny’s apartment, making the glass rattle.  Right afterwards, we were banished to the basement where we couldn’t break anything.

Despite my familiarity with Waterford, I had no idea of the range of talent in Ireland in a variety of creative mediums     until I visited the exhibit Ireland:  Crossroads of Art and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago.   Over 300 items were on display and the work was simply gorgeous. Intricately-carved musical instruments and furniture. Fine silver.  Jewelry.  Pottery.  Textiles.   Here’s a small sample:

Musical Instruments

Music is a lot more like solving an intricate puzzle with moments of pure, random creative bliss… whereas painting is much more purely random creative bliss with moments of problem solving.–Brandon Boyd

Isn’t the intricate carving on this harp stunning?

Irish Harp, Close Up.  Shot with Samsung Galaxy S5.

Irish Harp, Close Up. Shot with Samsung Galaxy S5.

Fine Bone China

My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram, or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation.–Arthur Conan Doyle

The delicate colors on this vase and the milky-white china are especially beautiful.

Fine China.  On display at Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design.

Fine China. On display at Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design.


It’s hard to imagine that this embroidery was done hundreds of years ago.  It looks so fresh and lovely.

Needlepoint.  On Display at the Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design Exhibit.  Art Institute of Chicago

Needlepoint. On Display at the Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design Exhibit. Art Institute of Chicago


This man could have stepped out of a family portrait.   His lips curve easily into a smile just like my granny.

Bust of Irish Gentleman.  On display at the Art Institute of Chicago

Bust of Irish Gentleman. On display at the Art Institute of Chicago


This looks fine enough for royalty, doesn’t it?

Hand Carved Irish Furniture

Hand Carved Irish Furniture


What an expressive face!

Portrait of the Artist's Son.  On Display at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Portrait of the Artist’s Son. On Display at the Art Institute of Chicago.

To learn more about this exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, click here or view the movie below:

To see more interpretations of this week’s “intricate” theme on Word Press, click here.

Ireland is on my very long list of places to visit.  Have you gone?  What areas in Ireland should I visit?  What time of year should I go?  Have any of you gone to Mohill in County Leitrim?  That’s where my granny was from.

Thanks as always for your thoughts and comments and have a wonderful week–

10 replies »

  1. Hi Maria! Great to hear from you. Yes, it is a cultural city. I love that! I’m glad you liked the harp and china. I thought they were lovely too. I’ll check out your posts next. Have a great week.–Patti


  2. Leitrim is lovely. We are buying an old townhouse in the next county, Cavan. There are many lakes and rivers in that part of Ireland, it’s a fisherman’s paradise. Mohill is only about a forty minute drive from the town we hope to move to in a year or so. It’s called Belturbet. I do hope you get to visit your roots but if you land in Shannon Airport you must visit Bunratty Castle and folk park to give you a taste of Ireland’s history. It’s not too far from the airport. Then you should travel north along the coast through Clare and Galway and see the many interesting sights in those counties. Westport in county Mayo is a beautiful town and Westport House is so worth a stop off. Inland from there will lead you into county Leitrim and Mohill.


  3. Hi Jean. Thanks for your suggestions for our trip and your thoughts on Mohill! We are anxious to visit Ireland and the other places on our very long list. Your plans to move there sound wonderful. I will check out Belturbet on the internet. Thanks again!–Patti


  4. Such a great exposition on Irish culture! I live In Savannah, Georgia and most folks think Irish means Saint Patrick Day parades or drinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Robert. Thanks! It was an eye-opening exhibit. It’s true that most people think of the parade and drinking. You do have a famous St. Patrick’s Parade in Savannah. It’s a great city. I’ll stop by your site too. Thanks for stopping by! –Patti

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful exhibit. Thanks for sharing it. Like many people I think of the stereotypes used to describe Ireland. I have been a few times to Dublin (business trips though) and once to Galway for a wedding. That was the most interesting visit as I experienced the local customs in such ceremony.


    • Hi Lucile. Thanks! Yes, sadly, there are a lot of stereotypes about the Irish. That’s why it’s important to recognize that many Irish artists’ talents have been overlooked. I’m sure you saw a more personal side to Ireland at the wedding. I’m curious about the local customs! I appreciate your thoughts!–Patti


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