Lysaght, Patricia, “An artist on Inis Oírr and Inis Meáin: Simon Coleman’s visit to the Aran Islands in 1959 on behalf of the Irish Folklore Commission”,
131:1 (March, 2020): 1–33.
Although the main emphasis of the work of the Irish Folklore Commission throughout the thirty-five years of its existence (1935–70) was on verbal tradition, it also sought, from the middle of the 1930s, to document the material culture of rural Ireland. While this work was carried out mainly by a staff member, the Commission also, in the late 1940s and 1950s, employed an artist, Simon Coleman RHA, to undertake fieldwork for short periods of time in a number of areas in the countryside, assisted by the Commission’s collectors. His task was to make drawings and, where feasible, paintings of traditional buildings, work practices, farm tools and machinery, sea-craft, fishing techniques, and tradition-bearers. This article surveys the contexts in which the artist worked and assesses the contribution that he made to the Irish Folklore Commission’s endeavours to document the material culture of the Irish countryside.