Liam O'Neill View All Artwork

Liam O’Neill was born in 1954 in the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland. Liam is a self-taught painter. Inspiration for his work stems from his native place, its people and the daily happenings and events therein.

He returned to his native West Kerry in 2002 to pursue his passion of painting his native place - having left at age 17 to follow a teaching career in Dublin. During his time in Dublin he developed his own personal style – painting street scenes and Smithfield horse market with its many characters. Painting these characters he developed a portraiture style of his own. From horsemen with there animals to prominent Irish people such as W B Yeats, John B Keane and Richard Harris - all can be found in the repertoire of Liam O’Neill.

During this time he painted his West Kerry scenes from memory and from recollections of his many visits back home. His paintings reflect many aspects of life in West Kerry, especially the ones that are fast fading from living memory - the old ways of farming from herding sheep and cows, to saving hay and cutting turf (peat) for fuel. Horse fairs dominate his paintings - painted from memory of his days as a youth visiting Dingle fair with his father. Dingle with its fairs, regattas and horse races were important in shaping his impressions and have inspired many of his paintings.

Painting for over 30 years he has developed his own unique style that stems from his use of the bold, strong colours applied in swathes to the canvas with his palette knife. He has shown at the R.H.A., Oireachtas, the National portrait exhibition & the Claremorris Open. His work is also held in many public and private collections in Ireland and internationally.

Alchemy. Without realizing it, boyhood not alone absorbs but also cloaks in magic, the mundane of the every day. That boy sprawled on a ditch, seemingly idling his time away, is absorbing his world; gazing at the horse and cart rattling to the creamery; gazing at resolute men wielding sleans in a wilderness of bog or scything small harvests in little south facing fields. Gazing from a cliff top, that boy will spend hours watching men in naomhógs harvesting the blue sea below. And boyhood, with its twin alchemies of curiosity and empathy, will, like Yeats in Sailing To Byzantium, turn the drudgery of habit into hammered gold and gold enamelling.

With a bit of luck, the boy - man will have access to this treasure trove of images; with a bit of luck he will endeavour to coax and colour them to life.

Cyril Kelly

Selected works by Liam O'Neill View All Artwork