The Niland Collection is one of Ireland’s most significant public art collections. Begun by Nora Niland in 1959, the collection features work by many of Ireland’s most acclaimed twentieth century artists. The collection has a particular focus on the northwest of Ireland and features many artists who are linked to the area through birth, family or subject matter including Jack B Yeats, Patrick Collins, Sean McSweeney, Patrick Hall and Nick Miller.

Paintings by the Yeats family are also a particular focus and the collection features almost fifty works by Jack B. Yeats, nineteen portraits by his father John Butler Yeats, as well as works by Jack’s wife Mary Cottenham Yeats, and his sister Elizabeth Yeats. In addition the collection features holdings of work by Norah McGuinness, Mary Swanzy, Sean Keating, Gerard Dillon, Paul Henry and Louis le Brocquy amongst many more.

In 2002 a further 30 works of Irish art were generously lent on a long-term basis by the collector Jobst Graeve. The Graeve Collection has a particular focus on works from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, many of which are political in theme.

Taken as a whole the two collections number almost 300 drawings, paintings, sculptures, and prints, and present a fascinating overview of Irish life in the twentieth century.

Nora Niland

Nora Niland became Sligo’s County Librarian in 1945 and soon set about drawing greater attention to the links between the area and the influential Yeats family, whose members included the poet W. B. Yeats, and the painters John and Jack B. Yeats.

A co-founder of the Yeats Summer School programme, Niland borrowed five works by Jack B. Yeats to exhibit during the first year of the School. During the exhibition Niland came to believe that the paintings should remain in Sligo, and set about raising the £3,000 needed to purchase them. Two years later her determination paid off, and The Niland Collection was born.

Between four and six exhibitions are drawn annually from the permanent collection and shown in The Niland Gallery.