St. Patrick's Day

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Famous Irish artists

Though many people with no connection to Ireland celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the day is, in fact, a celebration of Saint Patrick and the rich culture of the land he helped to overcome paganism. Ireland has produced many noted artists, including actors such as Richard Harris and Cillian Murphy, musicians like the rock band U2 and composer Patrick Cassidy, and writers such as James Joyce and George Bernard Shaw. While many of these and other notable Irish artists are household names, Irish artists whose talents rested with their paint brushes are less widely known.The following are a handful of Irish artists whose influence is still felt today.

* Frank O'Meara: Though he passed away from complications of malaria at the age of 35, O'Meara made a considerable impact during his short career, which began when he studied at the studio of Carolus-Duran, the famed portrait painter, in Paris, France. O'Meara's painting style, which was known to be especially slow, coupled with his short life, did not produce a vast catalog, though he is recognized as one of the first "plein-air," or open air, Irish artists who insisted on painting outside to benefit from natural light.

* Daniel Maclise: A chance encounter with Sir Walter Scott helped this famed portrait painter get his career off the ground. When the "Rob Roy" author was traveling in Ireland, Maclise encountered him in a bookseller's shop and promptly drew a sketch of the famed novelist, playwright and poet, who liked the sketch so much he lithographed it and showed it to friends, increasing the demand for Maclise's talents. Though he spent much of his professional life in London, Maclise's work is prominently displayed in his native Ireland.

* Edward Delaney: Born in County Mayo in 1930, Delaney, who passed away in 2009, was a renowned Irish sculptor, perhaps most famous for his famine memorial at St. Stephen's Green in Dublin, Ireland's capital and most populous city. Delaney is also known for his statue of Wolfe Tone, the Irish revolutionary widely regarded as the father of Irish republicanism, and Thomas Davis, the revolutionary Irish writer who promoted the Irish identity throughout his writings. Delaney's works continue to be displayed throughout the Emerald Isle and even overseas, including at the Central Bank of Ireland in Dublin and at the First National Bank of Chicago.

* Nano Reid: A famed landscape artist, Reid studied at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art and today is widely considered one of the finest female Irish painters of the 20th century. Over the course of her career, Reid, who was famed for her landscape paintings but also involved in portrait art and figure painting, showed numerous works at Dublin's Royal Hibernian Academy. Supporters considered Reid a genius, and her works continue to be shown, both in Ireland and in the United States.