LCGA Exhibitions

Searching in the Dark: Eddie Cahill

16 February - 7 April 2024
Limerick City Gallery of Art

Eddie Cahill, born into a large Dublin working class family, was sent to Letterfrack Industrial School in Connemara in mid-1960s.  As one term of imprisonment followed another he searched for a way of breaking that cycle, and he found a way out in the early 90s when he attended the NCAD Fine Art Programme in Portlaoise Prison and formed a close relationship with its director, artist Brian Maguire.  Cahill said that during those years he “painted his way out of prison,” suggesting the transformative role that painting came to have in his life. 

Cahill in his painting explores the psychological impact of trauma, in his distinctive style of painting, using deeply symbolic imagery and emotionally charged colour.  He revisited his detention as a child in a memorable painting titled Transportation, included in this exhibition, and warns of the futility of a life of crime in his compelling series of Black Box paintings. 

Over the past decade, Cahill developed a visual language reflecting a more universal perspective. He references characters from Shakespearean tragedies to illustrate the violence of contemporary gangland feuds, and he adapts images of repression from the Handmaid’s Tale, while ancient art provides inspiration for his Broken Heads Series.


Cahill’s pandemic paintings form a valuable visual diary of a population confronted by the threat of Covid.

He created haunting symbols to represent the invisible virus and focused on the emotional impact of fear and isolation.


Eddie Cahill is a member of the Artists in Prisons Scheme and the curator of Alternative Ways of Seeing, an exhibition of creative arts by people in custody at Rua Red, the South Dublin Arts Centre, in March 2024. 


Eddie Cahill is a unique figure in contemporary Irish Art and this exhibition has special significance for him as he spent time in Limerick Prison in the 1980s, and he considers his progress from City Jail to LCGA symbolic of his life’s journey.


In association with Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board , Eli Lilly , The Irish Prison Service & Rua Red 


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