New Arts Exhibition For Children Opens At Siamsa Tíre This Month

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One of the works which forms part of the Samhain exhibition.

SIAMSA Tíre has announced  a new arts exhibition for children, showcasing the breadth of talent in contemporary Irish illustration while retelling the story of Samhain (Halloween) for a new generation.

‘Samhain’, an exhibition that will run at Siamsa Tíre from September 23 to November 21 as part of the planned Samhain Festival in partnership with Kerry County Museum.

Two siblings get lost in the woods.  There they meet a mysterious traveller and embark on an adventure that sees them encountering a cheeky púca, some lost souls, and a choir of banshees…

Continued below…


This is a story of Halloween as told by Killarney-based children’s writer Olivia Hope.

In October 2020, Siamsa Tíre were introduced to Olivia by the team at Children’s Books Ireland.

As part of its Associates Artist scheme, it commissioned her to research Celtic folklore and to develop a new story inspired by the traditions and beliefs associated with Samhain, a time when the light of summer yields to the darkness of winter and imaginations are able to flourish in the shadows.

One of the works which forms part of the exhibition.

Olivia’s imagination certainly flourished and her story, A Way Home/Slí Abhaile, is now the inspiration for a major art exhibition for children.

She has collaborated with 20 illustrators and artists from all over Ireland and beyond who have brought the scenes from her story to life. Their work will form the basis of  the exhibition.

There will be 46 artworks in total, displayed in the gallery at the eye level of the target audience, gradually moving up from floor work for babies to adult height by the end of the story.

One of the works which forms part of the exhibition.

The list of exhibiting illustrators is an illustrious one.  It features a number of Children’s Books Ireland and An Post  Book award winners including Karen Vaughan, Lauren O’Neill and Margaret Anne Suggs, and nominees Paddy Donnelly, Linda Fahrlin.

They are joined by Irish Design award winner Paula McGloin and New York Times bestseller Eva Byrne.

Local names included in their ranks are Ciara Kenny (the Twitter personality known as @Ciaraioch, whose image of Peig can be seen on a utility box in Tralee); the Kerry-born internationally  acclaimed photorealist painter  Tony O’Connor; and author and illustrator Sheena Dempsey whose parents were born in the Kingdom.

Olivia is amazed by the different ways in which the illustrators interpreted her story and hopes their art will inspire the old tradition of story-telling in the young.

“A picture does paint a thousand words, so young visitors will be able to tell their own version of my story A Way Home/Slí Abhaile when they visit this art exhibition,” she says.  “I’m delighted that such an array of talent illustrators is involved because their art is both original and thought-provoking, and is sure to inspire the next generation of storytellers.”

During the weeks to come, you can follow the púca’s journey and the journey of all of the artworks depicting his story as they make their way to Siamsa Tíre by keeping an eye out for #haveyouseenthepuca online.

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