Fergus O’Ryan covers

October 19, 2011

In Monavalla, Joseph Brady, Gill & Son, (1963). Cover design: Fergus O’Ryan

Legends of Killarney, Donal O’Cahill, published by author, (n.d. 8th ed.). Cover design: Fergus O’Ryan

Fergus O’Ryan RHA ANCA (1911-1989) is better known today as a painter but he spent most of his working life as ‘a professional designer and commercial artist’ as a 1949 catalogue described him.

He worked with McEvoy’s Advertising Services in Dublin in the early 1940s and in 1943 he was with the Rank Organisation working at the Theatre Royal. He became art director and remained there until it closed down in 1962, designing backdrops and scenery as well as cinema posters. From there he went on to teach lithography at the National College of Art until his retirement in 1976.

His paintings, though well executed, are quite anodyne and hark back to Impressionism. What little I’ve seen of his commercial and print work is much more interesting. I would quite happily have a print of the In Monavalla cover on my wall. The character on the cover looks like the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit although I’m not sure if that was the intention.

63 pieces of O’Ryan’s commercial work sold as part of a lot of ’60s and ’70s Irish Sweepstakes advertising art in 2005.

One Response to “Fergus O’Ryan covers”

  1. David Devitt Says:

    My uncle, Jim Mahon was Fergus O’Ryans assistant in the Theatre Royal in the 1940’s and 50’s. O’Ryan did not stay at the theatre until Rank closed it in 1962, he was succeeded by my uncle who also left before the theatre closed and went to work for the ESB. Philip B. Ryan mentions O’Ryan and my uncle in his book The Lost Theatres of Dublin. I researched the period in my recently completed thesis for the MA in design history and material culture at NCAD. If you are interested its full title is ‘Enduring Screen, Ephemeral Stage – The Material Culture of Cine-Variety in Dublin, 1920 – 1962’ . There is a copy in the NIVAL archive in the college.


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