By the same sea, homes of the Irish diaspora
solo exhibition. The Custom House Studios + Gallery
Westport, Ireland, 2023

Works in the exhibition, installation
Exhibition catalog available here

This solo exhibition brings together twenty five of Maureen O’Leary’s small scale oil paintings of suburban Long Island homes. Unremarkable for their vernacular shape and design, these houses offer many opportunities to paint the effects of light as it breaks a landscape into major shapes creating graphic linkages between buildings and nature. Depicted are the neighborhoods of second and third generation Irish Americans and this body of work references O’Leary’s own roots as an assimilating Irish American. Like the metaphor embodied in the cottage that is New York City’s Irish Hunger Memorial, a home abandoned in the Great Famine and transported stone by stone from County Mayo, the house is an icon of the most tragic period of Irish emigration. The quotidian speaks to history.

Observing the new homes of Irish Americans today, the product of escape and rebirth, it can be said that Long Island homes and western Ireland homes remain, geographically, each other’s first and last points of contact, separated only the by Atlantic Ocean. These two sets of homes form an Irish-American continuum, a metaphorical neighborhood. The small homes that ramble over hills visible from commuter trains and car windows for a hundred miles outside of New York City are the effigies of a new life. The intimate scale of the paintings speaks to the contemplation windows afford a commuter going to or from New York City.


copyright Maureen O’Leary 2024, all rights reserved