Research underway at The Model

Formal presentation of The James A. Healy Art Collection by Mr. Cormac H. O’Malley. L-R Alderman John Fallon, Chairman, Sligo County Council; Mr P.J. Doyle, Deputy County Manager Mr Oliver Dowling, Exhibitions Officer, The Arts Council; Mrs. Moira Kennedy O’Malley, New York; Miss Nora Niland, Librarian and Curator; Mr Cormac K.H. O’Malley, New York.

The Model is currently undertaking some personal research into one of Sligo’s most dedicated and hard working citizens; Nora Niland. The research will contribute to the visibility and identity of the Niland Collection which is housed in The Model.

In the 1950s, Nora was instrumental in establishing the Sligo Municipal Art Collection, which today bears her name.

As county librarian Niland spotted the importance of the connection between Sligo and the Yeats family. With this in mind she borrowed five works by Jack B. Yeats from The Capuchin Annual to exhibit for the duration of the first Yeats Summer School in 1959. Niland soon realised that these five works were an important addition to the cultural life of Sligo and resolved to raise the money required to buy them. Although it took her two years, Niland’s determination ensured that the paintings remained in Sligo and formed the nucleus of what has now become The Niland Collection. Nora went on to add more of Yeats’ works in the years that followed, making the collection one of the most significant holdings of the artist’s work in Ireland.

Many of these works record personal experiences and memories of Yeats childhood in Sligo, and coupled with the addition of further works by his father John Butler Yeats and his sister Elizabeth Yeats, serve to celebrate the Yeats family’s enormous cultural legacy to Sligo. Over time works by other important Irish artists were added making the collection of the best holdings of twenthieth century Irish art in the country.

The Model would like put a call out to people around Sligo that may have known Nora, met her at meetings, or have worked with her. We are looking for photographs, original letters or stories about the woman who inspired one of the most important collections of Irish twentieth century art works.

If you have any information, photos or memories you would like to share please contact Denise Rushe at The Model on 071 9141405 or email