Soirle MacCana

1901-1975

Events in the life of Soirle MacCana

 

1901: He was born in Belfast, Co. Antrim, to John Patrick McCann and Mary Jane Riddell. Christened Samuel Malachy, he later began using the Irish version Somhairle MacCana and later still, used the spelling Soirle. He was the second eldest of twelve children. He lived at 73, Duncairn Gardens, Belfast and his early education was at St. Malachy's Christian Brothers' School, Belfast.

 

1915: He started his Art Studies in the Municipal Technical Institute, Belfast. From there he was appointed as a textile designer to Joseph Mathers Ltd, damask and linen manufacturers, Upper Queen Street, Belfast. He attended Belfast School of Art in his spare time, studying damask and embroidery designing.

 

1921: As one of a flying column of Irish Volunteers in the War of Independence, he was arrested on the 8th May 1921 along with ten others at Lappanduff near Cootehill, Co. Cavan. Sentenced to death for high treason, he spent seven months awaiting execution in Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast until the general amnesty in December 1921. He then went south to Ardee, Co. Louth where he helped on the farm of a fellow internee and then also stayed in Limerick with a family called Daly. He returned to Belfast, living at 153, North Queen St., and studied at the Belfast College of Art.

 

1923: He was awarded the Sorella Scholarship. The following year he moved to 4, Joy St., and he taught at the Belfast College of Art.

 

1925: He won the Dunville Art Scholarship which which entitled the holder to study for three years at the Royal College of Art, London. Because of the Civil war in South (in which he refused to take part) and unrest in Belfast, he spent his summer holidays studying in Paris. Most of his London and Paris work was burned in his home in Belfast. "Chelsea Old Church" and "Self Portrait in red conte (1925)" are a few of the works which survived.

 

1928: He was awarded the Painting Diploma and received his honours degree, Associate of the Royal College of Art (A.R.C.A.). On his return to Belfast he taught at the Belfast College of Art 1928 -1929.

 

1929: He was appointed art master at Galway Technical School (1929 1935), where he started the art and craft department. He was a founder member of the Galway Art Club with Hugh Broderick and Frank Corbett and others.

 

On the 6th April 1931 he married Mary Teresa (Maisie) Taylor in Belfast. In 1932 their first born son, Enda was born in Belfast as she was staying with her in-laws. Their first two daughters, Maire (1933) and Deirdre (1935) were born in Galway.

 

1935: He was appointed Art Inspector in the Department of Education, Dublin. He lived in Rush for some time.

 

1937: He was appointed Principal of the Cork School of Art. He held this post until his retirement in 1967.

Between 1937 and 1940 the family lived at 5, Ardfoyle Place, Ballintemple, Cork.

He had a Ford Baby Eight car as his first car and then he bought a new Ford Prefect in 1939. Due to World War One, the car spent a year on blocks and he then sold it to a doctor. This forced him to move to "Ard Mhuire", Buxton Hill, Sundays Well, Cork in 1942.

Diarmuid was born in 1941 and Ita was born in 1947.

The family moved to Wilton Ave. Bishopstown in 1956.

 

1967 He retired, having done two extra years. A retrospective exhibition was held in Crawford Art Gallery in 1967.

 

1975: He died on the 25 Nov 1975 following an operation for lung cancer.