• 1943

    Robert Ballagh is born in Dublin to Bobbie and Nancy (nee Bennett) Ballagh at the height of the Emergency, the official designation for the Second World War in Ireland. image

    Bobbie and Nancy Ballagh

    First Irish Exhibition of Living Art
    is staged at the National College
    of Art.

    1944

    Erwin Schrödinger publishes ‘What
    Is Life’ after a series of lectures in Dublin.

    1945

    The Allies firebomb Dresden.

    United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. World War II ends.

    1948

    RB goes to Pembroke School, popularly known as ‘Miss Merediths’.

    The Republic of Ireland Act, 1948 ends the constitutional role of the British Monarch in relation to the Irish State.

    First inter-party government is formed between Fine Gael, the Labour Party, Clann na Poblactha
    and two smaller parties.

    Dr. Noel Browne is appointed as Minister of Health and directs a successful campaign to wipe out tuberculosis.

    Mahatma Gandhi is murdered.

  • 1949

    Cultural Relations Committee inaugurated by Minister of External Affairs, Seán MacBride.

    1950

    RB goes to St. Michael’s Preparatory School.

    The Korean War begins.

    1951

    At the behest of government, Thomas Bodkin compiles a ‘Report of the Arts’. He claims “no civilised nation of modern times has neglected the arts to the extent that we have during the last 50 years”. As a consequence the government enacts the Arts Act, 1951, which establishes the Arts Council.

    1953

    First performance of ‘Waiting For Godot’ by Samuel Beckett.

    James D Watson and Francis Crick discover the structure of DNA.

    1955

    Ireland joins the United Nations. image

    Robert Ballagh aged 13

  • 1956

    RB brought by his father to ‘Rock Around The Clock’ in the Carlton cinema, Dublin. This exposure to Rock and Roll music has a transformative effect. He buys a guitar and resolves to teach himself how to play. image

    Seán O’Faolaín is appointed Director of the Arts Council.

    The I.R.A. begins an armed campaign in Northern Ireland.

    1957

    RB goes to Blackrock College, does not excel at sport, but draws comfort from art classes run by artist John Coyle. image

    Self Portrait 1960

    1959

    RB and some friends form a band called ‘The Trends’. Their main musical influence is the British group ‘The Shadows’.

    Seán O’Faolaín resigns as Director of the Arts Council on the grounds that “the work was futile, since there was so little money”.

    Fidel Castro leads a successful revolution in Cuba.

  • 1960

    RB takes up bass guitar and joins a semi-professional showband called ‘The Concords’ and joins the Irish Federation of Musicians.

    1961

    RB commences architectural studies in the College of Technology, Bolton Street, Dublin.

    RB quits ‘The Concords’ and joins a group called ‘The Chessmen’. Ireland’s public television service ‘Telefis Eireann’ begins broadcasting.

    1962

    Basil Goulding establishes the Contemporary Irish Art Society. It is dedicated to the purchase of work by Irish artists that is then donated to public institutions.

    James D Watson and Francis Crick win the Nobel Prize for Science.

    The U.S.S.R. and the Unites States come close to war over the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    1963

    RB abandons architectural studies to become a professional musician. image

    The Chessmen

    John Fitzgerald Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

    Shortly after being appointed President Lyndon B Johnson sends US troops into Vietnam.

    1964

    ‘Art: USA: Now’, important exhibition of contemporary US painting in the Hugh Lane Gallery.

  • 1965

    RB meets Betty Carabini.

    1966

    RB decides to call a halt to his musical career. He sells his bass guitar to Phil Lynott.

    Huge official commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

    1967

    ‘Torso’, a pop art construction, is accepted by the Irish Exhibition of Living Art. image

    Torso 1967

    RB works as an assistant to artist Micheal Farrell on two large paintings commissioned by the Bank of Ireland. image

    Micheal Farrell and Robert Ballagh

    Rosc 67, a major exhibition of international art at the Royal Dublin Society includes Francis Bacon, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, Robert Rauschenberg and many others.

    The Government introduces free post-primary education.

  • 1968

    The Irish Exhibition of Living Art committee selects a painting by RB for their annual exhibition.

    RB departs for London with Betty, but after several months decides to return to Ireland to get married and to dedicate himself to art.

    He begins work as a technical draughtsman and joins the Draughtsman’s Union, DATA.

    In July, he marries Betty Carabini.
    Micheal Farrell is their best man. image

    Wedding day. Tim Goulding, Betty and Robert Ballagh

    He is commissioned by architect Robin Walker to design screens for the restaurant building in U.C.D.

    He shows in the Brown Thomas Gallery. ‘Blade’ is purchased by the Arts Council. image

    Blade 1968

    Stanley Kubrick’s film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is released.

    A civil rights march in Derry is beaten off the streets by the security forces of the state, an event which marks the start of the ‘Troubles’.

  • 1969

    RB is commissioned to create three mural paintings (based on his map series), each 7’10” x 16’0” for Fitzwilton House, Dublin.

    He is awarded prize for his painting ‘Marchers’ in the Living Art Exhibition. Michael Farrell, RB, Gerald Dillon and 10 other artists withdraw their paintings from the scheduled exhibition in Belfast in protest against sectarian violence in the North.

    He is selected to represent Ireland at the Paris Biennale.

    RB quits job as draughtsman and begins working as a free-lance graphic designer.

    His first one person exhibition is held at the Brown Thomas Gallery.

    His daughter Rachel is born.

    Violence breaks out in both Belfast and Derry

    British troops arrive in the North.

    Minister of Finance Charles J. Haughey's Finance Act of 1969 introduces income tax exemption for artists.

    1970

    RB represents Ireland in ‘Celtic Triangle’, an exhibition which tours Wales, Scotland and Ireland. image

    3rd or May after Goya 1970

    He works briefly as a postman.

    Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney are sacked from the cabinet and charged with importing arms. They are found not guilty.

  • 1971

    RB is commissioned to paint a large mural for the head offices of the ESB, Dublin.

    His painting of James Connolly earns the Douglas Hyde Gold Medal at the Oireacthas Art Exhibition, Dublin. image

    James Connolly 1971

    One person exhibition, David Hendricks Gallery, Dublin. This show features pop paintings of cakes and candles.

    RB is included in the important Rosc exhibition ‘The Irish Imagination’ at the Municipal Gallery Dublin. A condensed version tours Philadelphia, Boston and Washington.

    RB is commissioned to paint portrait of David Hendricks.

    The collector Gordon Lambert commissions RB to paint his portrait. image

    Gordon Lambert 1971

  • The Arts Council of Northern Ireland awards RB the Alice Berger Hammerschlag Trust Award.

    Internment without trial is intro- duced in the North.

    1972

    The Irish Exhibition of Living Art committee steps down and invites the sculptor Brian King to form a new committee which includes RB. The first exhibition staged by the new committee takes place in the Project Arts Centre. This challenging exhibition includes Ballagh’s ’30 January 1972’ and Brian O’Doherty’s name-change to Patrick Ireland. Both these art works were created in response to the murders in Derry on Bloody Sunday.

    RB mounts an exhibition featuring the series ‘People Looking At Paintings’ in the David Hendricks Gallery, Dublin. image

    People Looking at Paintings, David Hendricks Gallery 1971

    ‘Irelandskt - From Yeats To Ballagh’, Lund Konsthall, Sweden.

    1973

    He paints portraits of Irish writers, O’Casey, Shaw, Joyce, Wilde, Behan for the Tara Towers Hotel, London.

    ‘Art Irlandais Actuel’, Muse d'Art Moderne, Paris.

    A new Arts Act establishes a new Arts Council with more extensive powers.

    Ireland joins the European Eco- nomic Community.

  • 1974

    ‘Bilder-Bilder’, one person exhibition, Aktions Galerie, Bern, Switzerland.

    One person exhibition, David Hendricks Gallery, Dublin (this exhibition features cut out figures).

    One person exhibition, Club ’44, La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland.

    One person exhibition, Galerie Isy Brachot, Bruxelles, Belgium.

    ‘Irish Directions of the 70’s’ (touring exhibition), USA.

    Sean MacBride is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

    The British courts unjustly jail the ‘Birmingham Six’.

    Dublin - Monaghan bombings result in the greatest loss of life in any one day in the course of the ‘Troubles’.

    1975

    Receives a major commission for a development in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. The paintings are influenced by Laurence Sterne, the writer, who was born in Clonmel. The mural in the supermarket is based on the series ‘People Looking At Paintings’ and is created using plastic laminate. image

    He is invited to show in an exhibition entitled ‘Artists Make Kites’ as part of Kilkenny Arts Week. His ‘Flasher’ is unilaterally removed by the Dean of Kilkenny and this results in an unholy row over censorship.

    His son Robert Bruce Ballagh is born.

  • 1976

    One person exhibition, Aktions Galerie, Bern, Switzerland.

    One person exhibition, Galerie Isy Brachot. Bruxelles, Belgium.

    One person exhibition, Galerie Lilian François, Paris.

    He exhibits ‘The Art Lover’ in an exhibition titled ‘Bottoms’ at the Nicholas Treadwell Gallery, London.

    RB is commissioned by Gordon Lambert to paint a folding screen.

    RB paints ‘My Studio 1969’.

    The Miami Showband is ambushed returning from an engagement in Banbridge. Three musicians are murdered.

    1977

    He contributes a work to an installation by Swiss artist Herbert Distel, the ‘Museum of Drawers’.

    One person exhibition, David Hendricks Gallery, Dublin. The works are influenced by the novel ‘The Third Policeman’ by Flann O’Brien.

    ‘Oh Mona’ wins prize at first Biennale of Humour and Satire in Painting, Gabrovo, Bulgaria. image

    Oh Mona 1977

    The Arts Council commissions RB to paint portrait of ‘Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’.

  • 1978

    RB is commissioned by Irish Cement Limited to paint 'Dawn At Platin’ for presentation to the Department of Industry and Commerce.

    RB executes murals on glass in Fitzwilton House.

    RB is commissioned to paint portrait of James Plunkett.

    1979

    One person exhibition ‘An Artists Response’ in the Orchard Gallery, Derry. All works are inspired by the Northern conflict.

    Gordon Lambert commissions RB to paint portrait of ‘Bernadette Greevy’.

    RB paints portrait of Hugh Leonard.

    RB paints ‘Winter In Ronda’, inspired by a family sojourn in the South of Spain. image

    Winter in Ronda 1979

    ‘L’Europe des Peintres’, Isy Brachot.

    Francis Ford Coppola’s film ‘Apocalypse Now’ is released.

    Sandinistas take power in Nicaragua.

    1980

    He is selected to exhibit in the main Rosc exhibition in Dublin.

    His work is also on display in Crawford Gallery, Cork. This Rosc exhibition features ‘Irish Art, 1943 -1973’.

    He participates in ‘A Sense of Ireland’, a major festival of Irish culture in London.

  • ‘Photos of America’, sponsored by US Embassy, David Hendricks Gallery.

    The Association of Artists in Ireland is established. RB is elected as its founding chairperson.

    The Association establishes its office in Liberty Hall, Dublin and becomes an affiliate of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. RB is nominated as chairperson of the cultural division of the ITGWU.

    RB paints ‘The Decade of Endeavour’, a commissioned portrait of CJ Haughey. image

    The Decade of Endeavour 1980

    RB paints a commissioned portrait of Michael Scott.

    1981

    Ward River Press publishes RB’s ‘Dublin’, a personal photographic essay.

    RB is commissioned to paint ‘The Downes Family At Knockatillane’, a family portrait.

    Aosdána is established to honour those artists who have made a distinguished contribution to Irish culture. RB is selected as one of the original members.

    ‘Out of the Shadows’, photographic exhibition organised by the Arts Council.

    RB wins the Arts Council's Martin Toonder Award.

    Bobby Sands dies after 66 days on hunger strike

  • 1982

    RB is commissioned to paint ‘The Mallin Family’, a family portrait.

    Irish Biscuits commissions RB to paint portrait of Gay Byrne.

    RB is appointed by the Taoiseach as a member of the Arts Council.

    1983

    Mid Term Retrospective, Lund Municipal Art Gallery, Sweden. image

    Curator Marianne Manne-Brahammer and Robert Ballagh, Lund 1983

    ‘Number 3’, David Hendricks Gallery, Dublin.

    Aosdána is formally inaugurated at a meeting attended by Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald and two of his predecessors, Jack Lynch and CJ Haughey. RB addresses the meeting on behalf of visual artists. image

    Addressing the inaugural meeting of Aosdána

    David Hendricks dies.

    The General Assembly of the International Association of Art, a UNESCO affiliate, is held in Helsinki, Finland. RB is elected to the international executive committee.

    1984

    The Albrecht Dürer House in Nuremberg commissions RB to make a painting to hang as a
    tribute to Dürer in the house

  • Homage to Dürer 1984

    RB is selected for a special award in an international competition for posters opposing nuclear war, held in Moscow.

    1985

    Paints portrait of Noel Browne. This picture is included as part of ‘Dublin - Edinburgh’ exhibition in Edinburgh.

    RB is commissioned to illustrate James Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’ by Limited Editions Club, New York.

    Gate Theatre commissions RB to design Barry McGovern’s one man Samuel Beckett show, ‘I’ll Go On’.

    ‘Divisions, Crossroads, Turns of Mind’, new Irish art chosen by Lucy Lippard. Exhibition tours USA.

    1986

    Participates in ‘The School Show’, an Arts Council exhibition in which 20 artists make a piece about their attitudes to school.

    Designs ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, Gate Theatre, Dublin.

    ‘I'll Go On’ is staged in Paris to mark Beckett's 80th birthday.

    A painting of ‘The Fastnet Lighthouse’ is commissioned by the Commissioners of Irish Lights.

    RB is commissioned to create ‘The Silicon Suite’, three prints using circuit board technology.

    A biography of Robert Ballagh written by Ciaran Carty is published by Magill Publications.

    At the IAA General Assembly, Baghdad, RB is re-elected to its international executive and nominated as treasurer.

    Betty is seriously injured in fall.

  • 1987

    Retrospective exhibition, Galerie Dap, Warsaw, Poland. image

    Galerie Dap 1987

    RB is invited to participate in a ‘Plein Air’ symposium in Smolian, Bulgaria.

    RB wins award at Peace Poster exhibition, Moscow.

    RB is invited to represent Ireland at international peace forum in Moscow.

    Three IRA volunteers killed in Gibraltar.

    1988

    Working with 18 young people from the North Dublin inner city, RB creates two enormous paintings which are displayed on the façade of the Custom House, Dublin. image

    Custom House, Dublin

    RB receives commission to paint the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Carmencita Hederman.

    Designs ‘Salomé’ at Gate Theatre. Stephen Berkoff directs

  • Designs Donal O’Kelly’s ‘Bat The Father, Rabbit The Son’.

    Participates in first West Belfast festival (later - Féile an Phobail).

    RB paints ‘In The Heart of the Hibernian Metropolis’. image

    In the Heart of the Hibernian Metropolis 1988

    RB is elected a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science.

    1989

    The Artists Union of the USSR stages a retrospective of his work in Moscow.

    The Project Arts Centre, Dublin exhibits his work in theatre under the title ‘Ballagh On Stage’.

    RB is invited by Artists Union of Bulgaria to stage retrospective in Sofia.

    RB paints ‘The History Lesson’.

    RB paints portrait of Michael O’Riordan.

    1990

    He paints ‘La Nuite Américaine’ for the Velux company, Denmark.

    His work is chosen for ‘Irish Art- The European Dimension’ at the RHA Gallery.

    Salomé returns to the Gate.

    Stephen Berkoff directs Salomé in the National Theatre, London.

    Gate Theatre commissions RB to paint ‘Three Sisters’ poster.

  • Three Sisters 1990

    His painting ‘The History Lesson’, is awarded the Douglas Hyde gold medal at the Oireachtas exhibition.

    Irish Museum of Modern Art is established in the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.

    Portrait of ‘Oscar Wilde’ commissioned by Gate Theatre.

    The Irish National Congress, a non-party political organisation, is founded. Its goals are peace, unity and justice in Ireland. RB is elected as its first chairperson.

    The Bulgarian Artists’ Union mounts print retrospective in Varna.

    ‘Reclaim The Spirit of Easter’ campaign is established. RB is elected chairperson.

    Both parents Nancy and Bobbie die.

    Mary Robinson becomes President of Ireland.

    1991

    He is commissioned to create a stained glass window for Druids Glen Golf Club.

    RB creates an installation for ‘In A State’ exhibition in Kilmainham jail.

    L’Orient Festival invites RB to stage a one person exhibition in Brittany.

  • RB designs ‘Endgame’ for the Beckett Festival, Gate Theatre.

    RB designs ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Gate Theatre.

    RB designs ‘Touching The Moon’ for Dance Theatre of Ireland.

    Elected chairperson of the National Commemorative Committee for the 75th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

    Portrait of architect ‘Liam McCormack’ is commissioned by the Ulster Museum.

    The government reluctantly stages an official commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

    The Soviet Union collapses.

    1992

    Arnotts department store, Dublin, hosts a major retrospective titled ‘The Complete Works’.

    Receives commission to design new currency notes from the Central Bank after winning design competition. Central Bank issues new £20 note. image

    Michael D. Higgins is appointed as Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.

    1993

    Groundwork Productions commission a portrait of John B. Keane.

    Central Bank issues new £10 note.

    RB designs ‘The Government Inspector’ for Dubbeljoint, Belfast.

  • At the Annual General Assembly of Aosdána, responding to promptings by the Minister, Michael D. Higgins, RB puts forward a motion challenging the censorship of section 31 of the Broadcasting Act. He is personally vilified and as a result resolves to abstain from future involvement with Aosdána.

    John Hume and Gerry Adams, following secret talks, announce a ‘Peace Process’.

    1994

    Central Bank issues £5 note.

    RB designs ‘A Night in November’ by Marie Jones.

    RB designs ‘Trickledown Town’, City Centre, Dublin.

    RB paints ‘Slán Abhaile’, as image for ‘Time For Peace, Time To Go’ campaign which marks the 25th anniversary of the arrival of British soldiers in the North.

    Designs memorial to John Joe McGirl which is unveiled in Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim.

    ‘Riverdance’ is performed as the interval act in the Eurovision Song Contest.

    IRA ceasefire is announced.

    1995

    Designs ‘Riverdance - The Show’, The Point, Dublin. image

    Rivedance

    Designs ‘Loot’ for Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh.

    Designs ‘Women On The Verge of HRT’ by Marie Jones.

    Designs ‘The Business of Blood’ by Donal O’Kelly.

  • RB Designs 1916 Memorial for Portlaoise.

    Central Bank issues £50 note.

    Seamus Heaney receives the Nobel Prize for Literature.

    1996

    RB creates Riverdance Suite of Masks for auction by The Prince’s Trust. image

    Riverdance Suite 1996

    Central Bank issues £100 note.

    RB is invited to submit designs for the proposed new Euro currency. image

    1997

    RB paints ‘The Bogman’.

    Gate Theatre appoints RB as Artistic Director for ‘The Beckett Festival’ in Melbourne, Australia.

    RB designs ‘Riverdance’ for Radio City Music Hall, New York.

    Mary McAleese becomes President of Ireland.

  • 1998

    RB paints commissioned portrait of Neil T Blaney.

    RB Paints commissioned Portrait of Bernadette McAliskey (nee Devlin).

    Good Friday Agreement.

    1999

    Shifting Ground: Selected Works of Irish Art 1950-2000, Irish Museum of Modern Art.

    Creates bronze ‘Pikeman’ for Druids Glen Golf Club. image

    Pikeman 1999

    Designs ‘Cell’ by Paula Meehan for City Arts Centre, Dublin.

    John Hume and David Trimble win Nobel Peace Prize.

    2000

    RB paints ‘The Orchard of Nostalgia’.

    Micheal Farrell dies.

    2001

    RB is commissioned to paint ‘Legacy’ by Sinn Feín to mark the 20th anniversary of hunger strikes.

    ‘Tír agus Teanga/Land and Language’ exhibition is held in the Pearse Centre, Dublin. image

    Cloch 2000

  • RB paints portrait of artist Micheal Farrell. image

    Portrait of the Artist, Micheal Farrell 2001

    2002

    Euro becomes currency of Ireland.

    2003

    RB designs the settings in Croke Park for the Special Olympics Summer Games.

    2004

    Belfast City Council commissions a portait of Lord Mayor Alex Maskey.

    2005

    ‘The West As Metaphor’, RHA.

    The Irish Visual Artists Rights Organisation is established. RB is elected as founding chairperson.

    Gordon Lambert dies.

    2006

    Retrospective exhibition is staged in RHA Gallery. image

  • RB paints portrait of writer J P Donleavy. image

    J P Donleavy 2006

    ‘Irish Art of the 70’s’, Crawford Gallary, Cork.

    Grand-daughter Ava Ballagh is born.

    RB takes the Irish Government to the High Court over its failure to implement the EU Directive on Droit de Suite. His legal success results in Ireland implementing resale rights legislation.

    2007

    ‘Mise Éire’ is commissioned by the peoples Movement to raise funds to fight the Lisbon Referendum.

    RB paints portrait of artist Louis le Brocquy.

    RB paints portrait of financier Dermot Desmond.

    Gerry Adams Presents Fidel Castro With a print of the RB painting ‘Legacy’. image

  • 2008

    RB is commissioned to paint portrait of James D Watson, the Nobel Prize winning geneticist.

    RB paints a version of ‘Raft of the Medusa’ as a response to the economic crisis.

    Grandson Ethan Ballagh is born.

    Government decides to guarantee indebted banks.

    2009

    RB paints commissioned portrait of Fidel Castro. image

    Portrait of Fidel Castro 2009

    Limited Edition illustrated Monograph ‘Robert Ballagh’ is published

    ‘Operation Cast Lead’ - Gaza invaded by Israeli Defence Forces.

    2010

    Exhibition of self-portraits titled ‘Ego’ is staged in Wexford Arts Centre.

    ‘Citizen Artist’ an illustrated biography by Ciaran Carty is published.

  • The Rotunda Hospital commissions RB to paint portrait of the Master, Peter McKenna.

    RB is awarded an honorary doctorate of philosophy by Dublin Institute of Technology. image

    ‘The Moderns - The Arts In Ireland From 1970's to 1990’s’, IMMA.

    RB is diagnosed with leukemia.

    The International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Union take charge of the Irish economy.

    2011

    RB paints a portrait of James Joyce which is commissioned by UCD.

    Betty Carabini-Ballagh dies.

    2012

    RB paints commissioned portrait of singer-songwriter Eleanor McEvoy. image

    Portrait of Eleanor McEvoy 2012

    ‘Into The Light’, a series of exhibitions to mark 50 years of the Arts Council’s collection.

    2013

    Exhibition ‘Seven’ is held in Crawford Gallery, Cork, to mark RB's 70th birthday.

    Exhibition ‘Skin’, organized by the Irish Skin Foundation, RHA Gallery, Dublin.

  • RB and fellow artist Cathy Henderson are commissioned by SIPTU and NCAD to design a tapestry to commemorate the centenary of the 1913 Lockout. image

    RB is awarded an honorary doctorate of literature by University College Dublin. image

    Eamonn Ceannt, Robert Ballagh and UCD President Dr. Hugh Brady.

    2014

    Belfast City Council commissions a portrait of Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. image

  • image

    RB and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir attend the unveiling of the official mayoral portrait in City Hall, Belfast.

    2015

    RB paints a portrait of playwright and Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter
    which is commissioned by the Gate Theatre.

    image

    Portrait of Harold Pinter 2015