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Ireland's oldest arts charity
Who are the Friends?
The Friends are a charitable body founded in 1924, by the painter Sarah Purser and a group of fellow Dubliners, to secure works of artistic importance and historic interest for the national or public collections by purchase, contribution, gift or bequest and to further interest generally in the arts in Ireland. It also administers gifts and bequests.
What have the Friends done?
The Friends have presented over 800 works, dating from the 14 th century to the present day, to public collections all over Ireland. These include paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, carvings, silver, textiles, stained glass, ceramics, books, manuscripts and furniture.
In its early days, the Society was occupied with returning the Lane pictures to Dublin and securing Charlemont House to accommodate the city’s Collection of Modern Art when the Municipal Gallery moved from Clonmell House in Harcourt Street. Until 1965 the Friends were largely responsible for building up the Municipal Gallery’s fine collection.
Among the places which have benefited from the FNCI donations are:
Armagh, The Aran Islands, Ballyjamesduff, Belfast, Clonmel, Cork, Derry, Drogheda, Down County Museum, Dublin (The Abbey Theatre, The Civic Museum, Clondalkin, Dublin City Gallery: The Hugh Lane, The Irish Architectural Archive, The National Gallery, The National Library. The National Museum, The RHA), Enniscorthy, Fermanagh, Galway, Killarney, Kilkenny, Kinsale, Limerick, Malahide Castle, Monaghan, Sligo, St. Patrick’s College (Maynooth), Waterford, Wexford.
During the year, the Society organises visits to places not usually open to the public in order to see their collections, as well as an annual special reception and event.
The Society of the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland (FNCI) was founded by Sarah Purser in 1924, at an inaugural meeting held at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. Their initial stated purpose was “to secure works of art and objects of historic interest or importance for the national or public collections of Ireland by purchase, gift or bequest”. The original list of members represented distinguished men and women from public life in Ireland and included George Bernard Shaw, W.B. Yeats and Oliver St. John Gogarty. The efforts of the Council soon turned towards the return of the Lane pictures to Dublin. The first gift made by the Friends was a beautiful miniature portrait on ivory of a Mrs. Coote by John Comerford which was presented to The National Gallery of Ireland at the suggestion of Mr. Lucius O’Callaghan the then Director in 1926.
The FNCI celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1974 with exhibitions of selected works presented by the Friends to the Dublin Municipal Gallery and other galleries. The purchase of works of all periods continues to be made or assisted, so that 46 venues all over Ireland have pieces on display which have been acquired through the Friends. These include a high proportion of paintings, some of considerable international importance, others important components in a national context; there are drawings, sculpture, prints, textiles, silver, objects de vertu, china, carvings, furniture, stained glass, photographs, manuscripts, book llustrations, jewellery. A selection of these forms the 75th anniversary exhibition display drawn from the first full catalogue of work which Aidan O’Flanagan, the Friends' Hon. Archivist, has compiled.
Mr. John Coleman, Mr. Arthur Duff, Ms Jennifer Goff,
Ms Christina Kennedy, Mr Adrian Le Harivel, Ms Marie-Louise Martin,
Mr Eamonn Mc Eneaney, Dr Kieran O'Conor, Sir Anthony O'Reilly,
Ms Erika O'Reilly, Mr Colm O'Riordan, Mr George Stacpoole.
Honorary Secretary Ms June Lattimore
Ms Mary Quinn
Honorary Treasurer Dr Michael Burns
Honorary Archivist Mr Adrian Le Harivel
Entertainments & Outings Miranda, Lady Broadbent
Sub-committee Ms Mia Craig
Ms Anne Kearney Farrelly
Mr John Kelly
Mr Kenneth Morgan
Acquisitions Sub-committee Mr Matthew Russell
Mr Dermott Barrett
Dr John Turpin
Dr Hilary Carey
Dr Abdul Bulbulia
Membership Sub-committee Mrs Jennifer Waldron-Lynch
Mr Dermott Barrett
Ms Erika O'Reilly
For more information about the FNCI and a more detailed description of the national and public collections with a full list of the works donated to them (1924-99), see:
Harold Clarke and Aidan O’Flanagan (eds.), 75 years of giving, The Friends of the National Collections of Ireland, works of art donated by the Friends to the Public Collections of Ireland(Dublin, 1999).
A beautiful publication celebrating 75 years of the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland is now available, Read it Here.
Council's visit to Aras an Uachtarain on 26th February 2014. From left to right; Standing:. Mr. Dermott Barrett, Ms. Mia Craig, Mr Lewis Purser, Mrs Croine Magan, Ms. Geraldine O'Connor, Mr. Adrian Le Harival, Mrs Elizabeth Mayes, Dr. Abdul Bulbulia, Mr. John Kelly, Dr John Turpin, Mr. Matthew Russell, Dr. Michael Burns, Mrs. Jennifer Waldron-Lynch, Ms. Marie-Louise Martin, Ms. Anne Farrelly, Lady Miranda Broadbent, Dr Hillary Carey, Dr. John GilMartin, Mr. Harold Clark. Seated: Mr. Arthur Duff, President Michael D.Higgins, Ms. Erika O'Reilly