ENDED: Sweeney’s Unquiet Islands

About This Project

Sweeney’s Unquiet Islands is an exhibition of original prints made by Northern Irish Wirral-based artist Martin McCoy.

The exhibition runs 7th October – 19th November, presented by Liverpool Irish Festival. Free entry.  Full details of how to find us & opening times can be found on our Visit Us page.


Taking their starting point from the medieval Irish story Buile Suibhne (bˠɪlʲə ˈhɪvʲnʲə or “Bwullya Hevna”), renamed Sweeney in modern texts, Martin uses the motif of landscapes -as described in the story- to create a contemplation on our relationship to place and the role of location in shaping identity.

To summarise, the story describes the cursed life of Suibhne (Sweeney), King of Dal Araidhe. Having fallen foul of the Christian Church, Sweeney is condemned. He is forced to spend his remaining years roaming Ireland and the Western Isles; at night, in all weathers, in a constant state of anxiety. Stripped of his human status -and bound by his physical and metaphorical hunger- he questions his identity.


Martin’s etching series replies to the text. Manipulating known locations and layering them in ways that create ambiguous qualities, Martin mirrors Sweeney’s ravings. The images confuse and distort our understanding, helping us to question what we know about the images.

The exhibition will feature a show catalogue. The exhibit will feature additional works from Pamela Sullivan’s The Forgotten. Also on display will be information about Hot Bed Press, the local print studio in which exhibition was pressed.

LISTEN: Listen to unheard from, a recording of Manon McCoy’s performance in response to this exhibition. We recommend using this as an aural experience to accompany your visit.

The Liverpool Irish Festival proudly presents this exhibition in partnership with The Williamson Art Gallery (funded by Wirral Council).

Find more exhibitions at the Williamson

Previous Exhibitions
Williamson Art Gallery & Museum