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Title: Gallorus Oratory

Title of artwork:
Gallorus Oratory
Paper (fiber material), Ink
Wood engraving
Commissioners of National Education Ireland
Title of Publication:
Sixth reading book for the use of schools
Alexander Thom
Publication place:
Publication date:
Curator Comment:
The Commissioners of National Education were established in 1831 to oversee the education of the poor in Ireland. The Commissioners issued illustrated primers for use in teaching children to read, introducing the subjects of English literature, English and Irish History and politics. Pedagogical theory of the period recognised the importance of combining text and image to stimulate learning.
Note on artwork:
The illustration of this book was chiefly assigned to members of a highly-regarded Dublin family of artists and engravers named Grey. The Greys not only composed original illustrations for the publication, but they were among a very small number of artists of the period who cut their own wood blocks. The prints in this volume are very finely engraved and are distinguished by their meticulous detail and finesse. They comprise a wide range of mark making creating rich textures and a nuanced tonal range. This engraving depicts an early Christian Irish stone church known as Gallorus Oratory. The structure, which is accompanied by a descriptive text, is depicted set in its local landscape near the County Kerry coast line. The single chamber building was constructed using the ancient technique of corbelling. The inclusion of this subject, and other references to early Irish history, in the national school curriculum, is indicative of the ever-growing awareness of, and importance of, Irish cultural studies at that time.

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