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Work of the Week | 15 August 2022

CAG.75 Seán Keating, Men of the South, 1921-22, oil on canvas, 127 x 203.4 cm. © Estate of Seán Keating, IVARO Dublin, 2022.


Men of the South (1921-22) by Seán Keating is one of the most recognisable – and sought out – works in the collection.

Our current exhibition, AS THEY MUST HAVE BEEN, marks the centenary of this painting which has become an icon of the Irish War of Independence. However, it nearly did not get painted at all!

In the months following the Truce of July 1921, members of the Cork No.2 Brigade of the Irish Republican Army were hand-picked by their commanding officer, Seán Moylan, to travel to Dublin and sit for a group portrait by Seán Keating (1889-1977).

The Limerick-born artist had come to know Moylan when painting a portrait of him in 1921 and it was suggested that depicting a ‘Flying Column’ of the brigade would make for a significant subject.

Upon their arrival – fully armed! – at his Kildare Street studio, the men posed for Keating as he photographed and sketched them. Working up a large-scale painting, the artist was soon forced to relocate to the Mansion House to continue work on it. This, combined with the rapid pace and high tension, dissatisfied Keating and he set his first attempt – An IRA Column – to one side and commenced a new version in its place. This would become Men of the South.

Learn more about the fascinating history of Men of the South (1921-22) and An IRA Column (1921) by Seán Keating in AS THEY MUST HAVE BEEN until 25 September.

Open daily | Free entry

Join us at 5:30pm this Thursday 18 August for a special Heritage Week talk with Maurice O’Keeffe (Irish Life & Lore) and curator Michael Waldron as they discuss the oral history associated with Men of the South. Further details here: Men Of The South At 100: An Oral History - Crawford Art Gallery

And tune into RTÉ Arena at 7pm Tuesday 15 August for a discussion of the exhibition!

Open daily | Free entry

Emmett Place, Cork, Ireland
T12 TNE6
Tel: 021 480 5042

Opening Hours
N.B. Last entry is 15 minutes before closing

Monday–Saturday 10.00am–5.00pm*
Thursday until 8.00pm

Sundays and Bank Holidays
11.00 am4.00pm

*Second floor closes 15 minutes before closing
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