Saturday July 11, 2020

A poster boy for Irish heritage

24th November, 2019
Roger O’Reilly in his studio in Kilkenny city: ‘The pubs I concentrate on have a story and character’ Pic: Finbarr O’Rourke

With the launch of his latest collection of original posters, Irish artist Roger O’Reilly has turned his attention from the lighthouses of Ireland to the quintessential Irish pub. As O’Reilly sees it, both share an important role as an integral part of the country’s built heritage.

“I was a storyboard artist in the advertising industry and an illustrator for films and TV series like Vikings. And then, a couple of years ago, I designed a poster of my hometown, Drogheda, as a family Christmas present," he said.

“Then I did one of Kilkenny, where I live now, and thought: ‘There’s a rich seam here that could be mined’. Ireland has never really had the wealth of travel and railway posters that you have in Britain and other countries on the continent. I started working on a series of posters of towns around the country. Then I moved on to the lighthouses, and that really took on a life of its own.”

O’Reilly launched his lighthouse poster series 18 months ago, and subsequently published a hardback book of illustrations. Lighthouses of Ireland was named best Irish-published book of the year at last year’s An Post Irish Book Awards.

“I moved on to pubs because they’re like the lighthouses, in that they are much-loved parts of our built heritage," he said. "I started off with the classic Dublin pubs, the likes of the Long Hall, the Stag’s Head and Grogans, and then I made posters of other well-known pubs around the country like Morrissey’s in Abbeyleix, the Long Valley in Cork and Tynan’s here in Kilkenny.

“The pubs I concentrate on have a story and character. That’s really what I’m interested in, and that’s what I want to relate through the picture."

O’Reilly sells his posters online at, priced from €30 for an A4 print, and will have a stand at Gifted, the craft and design fair taking place at the RDS in Dublin from December 4 to 8.

“The tricky part of this whole process for me has been getting the posters into people’s hands. That’s the bit I’m not familiar with,” he said.

“I set up the website, but that’s a bit like having a third-floor shop on the high street. You don’t have a shop window, so you’ve got to keep reminding people that you’re up there. That’s why I take part in shows like Gifted, and use social media to let people know about new posters I have coming out.”

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