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Masks, Myths and Magic.

11 - 21st May

Crescent Arts Centre

Photo © Jonathan Brennan

Dara Vallely (1946) is a visual artist, musician and storyteller from Armagh.

In 1978 he founded the famous Armagh Rhymers, one of Ireland’s most celebrated music and theatre ensembles. He’s since been on a voyage to engage communities in the art of mumming, folk music and storytelling in Ireland and abroad. His exhibition ‘Laoch Na Laochra’, is a visual companion to the book by the same title, created in collaboration with Réamonn Ó Ciaráin, and illustrates the tale of Cuchulainn – Ulster’s greatest hero who continues to dominate Ireland’s mythological landscape.

Alongside his many artistic talents, Vallely is a master of the uilleann pipes, concertina, bodhran, tin whistle and flute.

Artist Statement
Dara Vallely is a man of many talents. He is a gifted musician, playing the uillean pipes, bodhran, tin whistle, flute and concertina to name but a few. As a visual artist he has been exhibited in the Ulster Museum Belfast, the Royal Irish Academy Dublin, Chicago, Dallas, Milwaukee and New York and can be seen in public and private collections in Ireland and around the world.

Working closely with schools and cultural associations he often uses his art in conjunction with performances by The Armagh Rhymers; over the past 45 years Dara and the Armagh Rhymers have awakened and stimulated thousands of children in many parts of the world.

In both his paintings and performances, Dara is deeply influenced and inspired by the mask and its ability to transcend centuries and cultures.

Dara Vallely was born in the City of Armagh. His roots in this historic city have undoubtedly influenced his work. The nearby ancient archaeological and mythological site of Emain Macha (Navan Fort) and its associated literature, the 'Tain', has proved a well - spring of inspiration.
The main subjects are traditional festivals, masked rituals and scenes from Irish mythology such as the Fionn Legends and the Tain. The images are tied together by networks of swirling lines reminiscent of Celtic knotwork.

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