Behind the Scenes at the National Gallery of Ireland

Caomhán Mac Con Iomaire, Education Assistant. 

To celebrate 150 years of the Gallery, we will be introducing different members of the NGI team. We ask Caomhán Mac Con Iomaire, Education Assistant, a few questions...

How long have you worked at the Gallery? I have worked here since February 2009 - nearly five and half years. I came here shortly after completing a temporary contract with the National Museum of Decorative Arts. 

What does your job entail? I am an Education Assistant, so I assist with the coordination and the supervision of public events. One of my main responsibilities is the supervision of events that take place in the Gallery Lecture Theatre.

What is a typical day like for you? Every day is different from the last. One day I could be desk bound, the next I could be in the galleries facilitating a drawing class, and another I could be supervising or even leading a public event in the Lecture Theatre. I have the privilege of listening to many fascinating lectures, and I meet a broad range of speakers. The variety is one of my favourite aspects of the job.

What did you study? I am an NCAD graduate, with an Bdes and MA in Design. I also have a diploma in foundation Art from the University of Ulster.

What is your favourite part of your job, or about working at the National Gallery? I really love interacting with the public so I get a great deal of satisfaction when somebody comes up to me after an event to tell me how much they have enjoyed it. I am an artist, so I also really enjoy leading art workshops, and it is a real privilege to be involved with them at the National Gallery.

Can you describe a particularly memorable experience you’ve had at the Gallery? Hearing Sean-Nós singing at the opening of the William Evans of Eton exhibition last year - I grew up hearing and singing songs like that, and I felt it very surreal hearing it within the walls of the National Gallery.

What is your first memory of the National Gallery? I was here for the first time as a Leaving Cert student. My abiding memory is of seeing ‘Grief’ by Jack B. Yeats for the first time and thinking what a fantastic work it was. Long before I began working here I spent hours drawing the sculptures on Friday afternoons with friends from college. The drawing sessions would conclude with drink in the locality. Good times!

My advice to students hoping to work in the arts would be… if you want to work in a Museum, make yourself known to institutions by offering to volunteer. Always show that you are passionate about what you do, and that you are a grafter. It will stand to you.

What is on your cultural calendar for the upcoming year (apart from events in the Gallery)? I am a member of an illustration collective called ‘Blind Elephant’ and we exhibit regularly. Also, I love the RHA annual exhibition.

Which ONE art work/object/book would you take with you to a desert island? I think John Lavery's 'Return from market' was a great recent addition to the Irish collection. It is a vision of pure tranquillity that would serve me well during a storm on my desert island.

Everyone should visit the National Gallery of Ireland because… there is literally something for everybody here. The variety of work on display means an image is bound to  resonate with you. Sometimes you have to stand and look at a picture for a period of time for this connection to happen but when it does, it is very satisfying.

Read previous Behind the Scenes with staff members

Behind the Scenes with Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery

Behind the Scenes with Niamh Keaveney, CSIA Intern

Behind the Scenes with Shauna Sweeny, CSIA Intern

Behind the Scenes with Andrew Moore, Library Assistant

Behind the Scenes with Adriaan Waiboer, Curator of Northern European Art