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Birds of a Feather Flock Together

seamus heaneyEdward McGuire, ‘Seamus Heaney (1939- ), Poet’, 1974. NGI.4112.


Bird painter Edward McGuire’s work will be on display at the Irish Museum of Modern Art from the 19th November until April 2016. The artist was born in Dublin in 1932 and kept himself busy with still-life, portrait painting and drawing.

He was a student at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma in 1953 and the Slade School of Fine Art in 1954, where he studied the history of art. After this he moved to the Aran Islands. He died in Dublin in 1986 and was married to Sara McGuire who died in May 2011.

Some of the most famous portraits he had painted include those of Irish poets Patrick Kavanagh, Pearse Hutchinson and Michael Harnett, and Irish art critic Brian O’Doherty.

Many of his portraits were of personal friends who made their mark in history as short story writers, artists and poets. His other love was to study dead birds and included stuffed birds in portraits and paintings.

Sara donated McGuire’s art from his studio to the National Collection at IMMA in 2009 before she passed away. Artist Nick Miller picked it up and took interest in McGuire’s work and decided to turn it into an exhibition.

About the collection Nick was saying, “I want to step briefly into the Studio of Edward McGuire, into his shoes. Not into the way he painted, as our methods are so clearly different,but by addressing some of his subjects, both human and otherwise, that interest me on my own terms.”

Nick who now lives in Co. Sligo is an artist who has been exhibiting his own work since the 80’s. He produced a documentary with photographs and unpacking of the McGuire collection and it can be viewed at

If you are lover of poetry or writing don’t forget to let this dead bird sing. This is the original dead poets’ society.

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