In this Section -
Ireland's oldest arts charity
Who are the Friends?
The Friends of the National Collections of Ireland are a charitable body formed in 1924 by the painter Sarah Purser and a group of friends for the purpose of acquiring works of art and objects of historical interest and donating them to national and regional art galleries and museums throughout Ireland for the education and enjoyment of the public.
We also advise on and administer gifts and bequests.
During the year, the Friends organise visits to houses and places not usually open to the public in order to see their collections, as well as an annual garden party and a Christmas lunch and other events.
Although in recent years many public museums and galleries in Ireland have established their own association of friends to assist their work, the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland are the only body with the aim of benefitting all museums and galleries throughout the island of Ireland, and have been doing so for almost a century.
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.
Among the places which have benefited from the FNCI donations are:
Armagh, The Aran Islands, Ballyjamesduff, Belfast, Clare, 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 Irish Jewish Museum, The National Gallery, The National Library. The National Museum, The Royal Hibernian Academy, The Royal Irish Academy), Dungarvan, Enniscorthy, Fermanagh, Galway, Killarney, Kilkenny, Kinsale, Limerick, Malahide Castle, Monaghan, Newry, Sligo, St. Patrick’s College (Maynooth), Waterford, Wexford.
Click on Donations to see some of our gifts to Ireland's galleries and museums.
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).
This beautiful publication celebrating 75 years of the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland can be read Here.
The Future of Collecting in Ireland is the report of the proceedings of a Workshop held by the FNCI at the Royal Irish Academy in September 2014 to mark the 90th Anniversary of the foundation of the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland.
Officers and Council;
Patron The President of Ireland, Mr Michael D. Higgins
President Dr John Turpin
Vice Presidents Mr Matthew Russell
The Earl of Iveagh
Honorary Secretary Ms June Lattimore
Honorary Treasurer Dr Michael Burns
Trustees Mr Harold Clark
Mrs Carmencita Hederman
Ms Geraldine O'Connor
Mr. Dermott Barrett, Ms Mia Craig, Dr Jennifer Goff,
Miranda, Lady Broadbent, Dr Hilary Carey, Ms Anne Kearney-Farrelly,
Dr Abdul Bulbulia, Mr John Coleman, The Earl of Iveagh,
Dr Michael Burns, Mr Arthur Duff, Ms Christina Kennedy,
Mr John Kelly, Ms June Lattimore, Mr Adrian Le Harivel,
Ms Marie-Louise Martin, Mr Kenneth Morgan, Mr Eamonn Mc Eneaney,
Dr Kieran O Conor, Sir Anthony O Reilly, Ms Erika O Reilly,
Mr Colum O Riordan, Mr Peter Pearson, Ms Mary Quinn,
Mr Matthew Russell, Mr George Stacpoole, Dr Thomas Ryan,
Dr John Turpin, Ms Jennifer Waldron-Lynch
Visits and Events 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
Mr Adrian Le Harivel
Membership Sub-committee Mrs Jennifer Waldron-Lynch
Mr Dermott Barrett
Ms Erika O'Reilly
Website Sub-committee Mr John Kelly
History of the FNCI
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.
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.
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 illustrations, 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.
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