HC Deb 28 May 1903 vol 123 cc198-200
MR. BOLAND (Kerry, S.)

called attention to the question of the development of art in Ireland. The present condition of the country was especially suitable for certain steps to be taken. During the last five or six years, largely as a result of the work of the Gaelic League, there had been a remarkable development of the literary and musical instincts of the people, and that work was also having a striking effect on the question of art. He desired to know whether the Government were prepared to help this movement. A number of artists of Irish descent had offered to the nation pictures to the value of £15,000, provided a proper site were given for a gallery of modern art, and wealthy and patriotic citizens were willing on the same condition to contribute money towards the cost of such a gallery. Hitherto the development of art had been greatly handicapped by the unfortunate position in which the school of art was placed. The Royal Hibernian Academy lay on the northern side of the city, which was practically a residential quarter no longer, and unless the Royal Hibernian Academy buildings were placed on a more suitable site it would be impossible properly to carry on the cultivation of art in Ireland. Could not the Government promise to grant suitable sites for these two buildings? All Irishmen naturally desired that the artistic development of Ireland should proceed on national lines, they recognised that it could not be done on narrow principles. Art had an international basis, and if their art students were to keep up with those of other nations it was necessary that they should have the best art brought to their doors. A collection of the works of the best modern artists was absolutely essential if any real progress was to be made, and he understood the Dublin Corporation were willing to assist in this direction if only a site were provided. Irish students ought not to be forced to go abroad to lay the proper foundations of artistic culture, and he sincerely hoped what was really the only suitable site would be granted by the Government. Unless the present opportunity were availed of it would probably pass away for ever. He therefore entreated the Government to see whether in connection with the Dublin Public Offices Bill they could not arrange to set aside the small site necessary for the two purposes he had named.


was afraid he could not add much to his remarks of the previous day. He deeply sympathised with the desires of the hon. Member. All would be prepared to do what they could to assist with the development and encouragement of art in Ireland. At the same time it had to be remembered that the Bill to which the hon. Member had referred only contemplated the provision of public offices in Dublin, and the erection of buildings for the Royal College of Science. For those purposes a large expenditure of money was necessary; the amount had been fixed, and after careful consideration the Treasury had come to the conclusion it was not at present in a position to make a further advance.


said he was not asking that there should be any advance under the Bill, but that the site should be allocated in a slightly different way. It would be possible on the large site in Dublin to put a modern gallery. If only some promise were given that some part of the site would be given up for the Royal Hibernian Academy and a gallery of modern art, he should be quite satisfied.


said he was not now in a position to make any promise, but the question could be considered before the Committee. He had great sympathy with the objects of the hon. Member, but he could not see his way to give any definite pledge.