Mayo visitors who left behind an artistic legacy

Artistic Vistors and their Legacy

Heinrich Böll (1917-85) was a Nobel laureate who lived on Achill Island for more than a decade. Born in Germany, he carved out a career as a journalist and writer and in the late 1950s made his first visit to Achill.

Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, Böll lived and worked in a cottage in the village of Dugort. His Irische Tagebuch (Irish Journal, 1957) recounts some of his experiences on Achill.

Böll won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1972 and his cottage in Dugort has been used since 1992 as an Artists’ Residence. The Böll Cottage is maintained by a local committee, the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Germany, the Boll Family and Mayo County Council, which also administers the artists’ residency programme.

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Belfast-born artist Paul Henry (1876-1958) first visited Achill with his artist wife Grace in 1910. Inspired by both the landscape and the rural way of life, the Henrys stayed for most of the next nine years. Paul Henry stayed at a number of locations on Achill, mainly in the area around Keel but also at Cloughmore and Dugort.

His paintings of island life have now become iconic  ̶  in particular the paintings Launching the Currach, which shows fishermen setting off in a traditional canvas-covered boat from the beach at Keem Bay, and The Potato Diggers, which shows local women digging for potatoes on the Achill hillsides.


Harry Clarke (1889-1931) was undoubtedly Ireland’s greatest stained glass artist. During his short life Clarke created stained glass windows for churches, private dwellings and commercial venues throughout Ireland and England, and as far afield as the USA and Australia.

In Mayo his stained glass windows can be seen at the following locations

  • Balla,
  • Ballindine,
  • Ballinrobe,
  • Ballyhaunis,
  • Callow,
  • Charlestown,
  • Claremorris,
  • Cong,
  • Kilmaine,
  • Knock,
  • Lahardaun,
  • Newport,
  • Roundfort,
  • Tooreen,
  • Westport. 


Mayo County Council has also published a book titled Stained Glass Windows of Mayo by Harry Clarke and the Clarke Studios. This book can be purchased on line

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