Art Exhibit Illuminates Irish Famine

January 16, 2020

Beginning this month, St. John Fisher College’s Patricia O’Keefe Ross Gallery will exhibit a major collection of art from Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University.

This Robert Ballagh piece is part of the exhibit.

This Robert Ballagh piece is part of the exhibit.

“Tragedy and Triumph: Art Illuminates the Great Hunger,” is a visual depiction of the Irish Famine that includes pieces by internationally known sculptors and visual artists including Rowan Gillespie, John Behan, and Robert Ballagh, among others. It visits Fisher thanks to the work of Dr. Cathy Sweet, director and curator of the Gallery; Dr. Tim Madigan, chair of the College’s Philosophy Department and director of the Irish Studies Program; and alumnus Ryan Mahoney ’07, executive director of the Museum. 

Mahoney joined the Museum in 2017 after serving as the executive director of the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, New York, for four years. Before that, he was curator/director of collections and historic sites at the Schenectady County Historical Society. Mahoney has a dual bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Fisher and a master’s degree in public history from the University at Albany.

The exhibit runs from Monday, Jan. 20 through Monday, March 30. An opening reception, which features remarks by Mahoney, is scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24.

The gallery, which is located in the Joseph S. Skalny Welcome Center, is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public. For more information, email Cathy Sweet at