"Illustration: The Unflinching Eye" exhibit at Ireland's Great Hunger Museum. November 8:: 2012. Photographer Mark Stanczak. Copyright Quinnipiac University 2012. All rights reserved.


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Featured Exhibition

Featured Exhibitions

Fighting with Shadows


Tracy Sweeney is an award-winning, visual artist based in Straide, Co. Mayo, in the West of Ireland.

Her unique, visceral, multi-media works caught the attention of the Mulvey family, based in the US, who commissioned her to create a piece for Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, in Hamden, Connecticut.  The commission was in honour of their aunt, Nancy Colleran. The connection with their ancestral home beside Sweeney’s studio in Straide was astounding, in addition to being the birthplace of Michael Davitt, founder of the Irish Land League.

Sweeney’s abstract works are held in major international collections. This is her debut exhibition in the US.

Go Home Paddy


When arriving on American shores in 1848, Paddy Brennan found the same miseries that he had left behind in Ireland: bigotry, poverty and hatred. The Americans detested the Irish — and in no city were they more despised than in Boston. Now, in the 20th Century, Paddy is amazed at how quickly the Irish have come to succeed in the New World. But after a bitter argument with a bartender about Race, Paddy quickly realizes that some things never change—only the roles of those involved. As Paddy goes on to educate the young man about his own people’s wretched history in both Ireland and America, he speeds towards the dark wound in his own heart; his own horrible act of intolerance. 

GO HOME PADDY, a graphic novel, is the tale of one Irish immigrant’s aching struggle to find his way in a Bostonian society that fears and hates him while desperately attempting to hold on to his own humanity. Heartbreaking, thought-provoking and ultimately uplifting, this unique narrative incorporates historical details such as the Great Hunger, the rise of the Know-Nothings, Victorian prejudices and the Great Boston Fire of 1872. GO HOME PADDY is also timely as it examines the role of immigration, race relations and religion in American society — hot political topics of today. GO HOME PADDY is a graphic novel of around 200 pages and illustrated using the Victorian simian stereotype of the Irish.

The sections of GO HOME PADDY presented here cover the main character’s journey to, and reception in, America. The narrative of Irish immigration to America is a mirror for our times, as there are parallels between the Irish experience and the vitriol currently being directed towards Hispanics, Muslims and Refugees in America and around the World. The Irish were the first major wave of immigrant refugees to come to the United States. Their faith was viewed as a foreign religion and they were seen as the front runners of a Papist Plot to take over America; very similar to the conspiratorial talk that Muslims are in the U.S. to install Sharia law. The Irish washed up on America shores in tatters; they were diseased, dirty, uneducated, unskilled and considered backwards. Americans saw them as a drain on their economic and social systems, as well as an inferior race of people. The American Nativists formed a political party with the intent of halting the Irish immigrant’s upward mobility. The Irish, once considered a true threat to the American way of life, are proof that any ethnic or religious group can become an integral part of the fabric of their chosen country.

Our Permanent Collection

Our Permanent Collection

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum is home to an expanding collection of original art dating from the 19th century through the present day. Works by noted contemporary Irish and Irish-American artists are featured, as well as a number of important earlier works. The museum offers a unique opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to begin to explore the hitherto largely unrepresented, unspoken and unresolved causes and consequences of this tragedy, as well as to appreciate the art that continues to be inspired by it.

Various pieces on display inside Ireland's Great Hunger Museum

Our collection

Various pieces on display inside Ireland's Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University.

A painting entitled "Lady of the West" by Grace Henry

Lady of the West

Grace Henry

A painting entitled "Irish Peasant Children" by Daniel Macdonald

Irish Peasant Children

Daniel Macdonald

“Other famines followed, as other famines had gone before, but it is the terrible years of the Great Hunger which are remembered, and only just beginning to be forgiven.”
Cecil Woodham-Smith
Author, "The Great Hunger," 1962

Past Exhibition

Past Exhibition

In the Lion’s Den: Daniel Macdonald, Ireland and Empire: January 20 – April 17, 2016

Much is known internationally of Irish artists James Barry, the Neoclassicist, Daniel Maclise, the arch Victorian, and the Expressionist Jack B. Yeats, but many other significant artists have slipped into obscurity — Daniel Macdonald (1820–53) more than most. Macdonald was one of the most talented, audacious and experimental artists of his time.

Daniel Macdonald holds the distinction of having painted the only known painting of the Great Famine, An Irish Peasant Family Discovering the Blight of Their Store, exhibited in London in 1847, now in the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin. The death of one million people, the emigration of another million, and the subsequent depletion of the population of Ireland by one half made the Famine the single worst demographic catastrophe of the 19th century — one that was largely avoidable.

A painting entitled "The Fighter" by Daniel Macdonald

The Fighter

Daniel Macdonald

In the Lion’s Den was an important landmark in Irish and Irish-American cultural and social history, and was the first exhibition of its kind. The exhibition was curated by Niamh O’Sullivan.

The exhibition was funded in part by a grant from Connecticut Humanities and event sponsorship from The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

Macdonald Publication

"In the Lion’s Den: Daniel Macdonald, Ireland and Empire" by Niamh O'Sullivan is available to purchase at the museum and online. The book is the first critical biography of Daniel Macdonald and examines his life and work in the context of the social, political and cultural flux, before and during the Great Famine, in Cork and London.

Selected Press

Art New England, April 2016
“In the Lion’s Den: Daniel Macdonald, Ireland and Empire”

The Irish Times, April 2016
“In the Lion’s Den: Daniel Macdonald, Ireland and Empire, by Niamh O’Sullivan Review"

The New York Times, February 2016
“The Artist Who Dared to Paint Ireland’s Great Famine”

Hartford Courant, February 2016
“Hunger, Past and Present, Topic of Bridgeport, Hamden Exhibits”

The Irish Times, February 2016
“Book on Famine Painter Daniel Macdonald Launched in Dublin”

Irish Central, January 2016
“The Only Known Painting of The Great Hunger to Come to US” 

Republican-American, January 2016
“Irish Hunger Artist: Works by Macdonald Highlight a Dark Time”

Republican-American, December 2015
“Irish Hunger Museum Celebrates Noted Artist”

Irish Examiner, April 2015
“Cork Artist Daniel Macdonald’s Hunger for Truth”