George Bernard Shaw loved this place so much that he left it one-third of his royalties in perpetuity after he died. He saw it as paying a debt, so important was the gallery to his education. It is still a place to wander, wonder, and just be in thrall to so much beautiful art. Highlights of the permanent collection include paintings by Caravaggio, Gainsborough, Rubens, Goya, Rembrandt, Monet, and Picasso. The Irish national portrait collection is housed in one wing, while another area is devoted to the career of Jack B. Yeats (brother of W. B. Yeats), an Irish painter of some note. A 6-year, €30-million renovation finished in 2017 reopened two wings and added a glass-covered courtyard. (Check out the gravity-defying, 7m/22-ft. freeform sculpture by Cork artist Joseph Walsh, which stands sentinel over the new, light-filled space.) Major exhibitions change regularly, and the subjects are often more imaginative than just the usual run of retrospectives and national landscapes. In keeping with the “art for all” ethos that so enamored Bernard Shaw, entry to the permanent collection and many of the temporary shows is free.
- Jack Jewers