Artist in Association


WORKING AS AN ARTIST IN THE REGIONS by Dr. Deirdre McQuillan and Professor Elizabeth Keating


Violet Shirran | Textile Artist

Our Artist in Association for 2023 is textile artist Violet Shirran. Violet graduated from N.C.A.D with a degree in Art/ Craft and Design in 1988. Violet later returned to N.C.A.D to study Embroidery and then Printed Textiles which she now combines in her present work. A member of Visual Artists Ireland, Louth Craft Mark, Cork Textile Network and Society of Embroidered Textiles, Violet divides her time between teaching art and working from her own studio in Drogheda, Co Louth.

Anthony Kinahan: Actor /Producer: 2021/2022 

Our artist in association for 2021, is actor/producer Anthony Kinahan.  Anthony is a graduate of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London, and he also trained on the year-long part time programme with the Gaiety School of Acting, and 2 years full time with the Bull Alley Theatre Training Company, Dublin. Acting work includes: John in A Day in May (directed by Gerry Stembridge; written by Colin Murphy, based on the book by Charlie Bird); Phil Rogers in Red Rock; Zangara in Rough Magic SEEDS Assassins; Paul in the feature North Circular Road and Dan in the short A Hollow Friend. As a Producer/Performer with Quintessence Theatre, Anthony has co-created & performed in Cracks; Warrior of the Táin; Dracula; #Me Too, Three, FourBoy, Girl, Repeat and The Curious Case of Albert Cashier. 

Droichead's Artist in Association is funded by The Arts Council and Louth County Council Arts Office

Nicola Pierce: Writer: 2020/2021

Droichead Arts Centre are delighted that Nicola Pierce iour artist in association for 2020/2021. Earlier this year Nicola launched her now historical novel, Chasing Ghosts.

An enthralling novel of two stories that speak to each other across time and thousands of miles

Based on the real events of Sir John Franklin’s expedition to find the Northwest Passage. In 1845, two ships, HMS Erebus and Terror, are Arctic-bound. Commander John Franklin and second-in-command Francis Crozier hope to return within two years, but nobody really knows how long they will be gone. As time passes with no word from the expedition, the world fears the worst ...

In 1849, in Derry, little Weesy Coppin has died of a fever, but her spirit appears to her sister Ann and her brother William. The two stories collide as Franklin’s crew struggle to survive, and Weesy seems bent on haunting her family.

Finally, one ghostly night Ann asks her sister the question on everyone’s lips: Where are the missing ships?

Chasing Ghosts is published by The O’Brien Press in March. Cover image design by Jon Berkeley and Emma Byrne. 

Grainne Rafferty : Actress/Playwright: 2019/2020

Grainne Rafferty is our Artist in Association for 2019/2020. Grainne is our resident drama facilitator, and storyteller, and has a long association with the Centre. Graduating with a B.A. in Drama from DKIT, Grainne is writing her first play, High Tide, directed by Darren Thornton which Droichead plan to produce in 2021.

SJ McArdle: Composer, Musician, Songwriter - 2018/2019

Hailed as “the man with the most distinctive voice in Irish music”, musician/composer SJ McArdle joins us in 2018, as our Artist in Association, and will spend the year devising and composing a song cycle around the deep and rich history of Drogheda’s Port, culminating in a not to be missed performance in January 2019. Our Artist in Association Scheme is supported by Louth County Council Arts Office for 2018/2019. SJ will premiere PORT  in November 2019, tickets on sale now on our website. 

Stephen Joseph McArdle is a Drogheda-born musician, songwriter and occasional actor. He is currently the singer and guitarist in contemporary Irish folk band Kern with Brendan McCreanor (uilleann pipes) and Barry Kieran (fiddle). The band’s debut album False Deceiver was produced by Trevor Hutchinson (Lúnasa, The Waterboys). It is a mix of songs and tunes from the band's home County of Louth along with SJ's songs and has extensive national airplay in Ireland (including RTE Lyric FM and Radio 1), including live appearances on Newstalk's Pat Kenny Show and Raidio na Gaeltachta. The album has also received some impressive reviews. As a singer-songwriter, SJ has released three albums most recently Blood and Bones in  2014. The songs were mostly recorded in Nashville and feature contributions from some of SJ’s heroes like Rodney Crowell, guitarist Richard Bennett (Steve Earle’s Guitar Town) and the Love Sponge Strings (Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising).

The album's lead-off song, "Two Steps From Heaven" was the main song in the Cecelia Ahern-written movie Between Heaven and Here. Accompanying the album release was some significant media attention and reviews and very successful German and Irish tours. Another of SJ's songs, "Till The Docklands Drown", is performed during Element Pictures' A Date For Mad Mary (2016).

SJ has performed at the “Oscar Wilde” Oscars event in Hollywood and toured extensively in Ireland and Germany as solo act, as a member of Kern and as a session musician, playing mandolin for Ricky Warwick as they opened shows for Bob Dylan (Odyssey, Belfast) and Sheryl Crow (Point, Dublin).

Previous Residencies - Artist in residence Michael McLoughlin 2016

Over 2016 a year long visual art project took place in Drogheda called ‘Cumann’. The project was a partnership between Droichead Art Centre and artist Michael McLoughlin. The ambitious artwork involved people from all over Drogheda and the result was a piece of work in Droichead Arts Centre and around the town during Drogheda Arts Festival in 2016.

The word “Cumann” tends to be associated with politics and party branches. The word translates as society, as association, as club, as community, as friendship, as company. Cumann reflects that idea of togetherness that this body of work aims to represent. It celebrates connection between people, which has such importance to the wellbeing of us all.

The new artwork looked at this in the context of active citizenship and belonging.

“I’m really looking forward to starting into this piece of work and particularly exploring the wonderful networks of clubs, groups and associations in the town. The work is people centred, specific to Drogheda and it celebrates community.” says McLoughlin.

For Cumann, Michael recorded audio conversations and connections between people representing society in its broadest sense. His aim was to celebrate friendships, bonds and connections between communities of interest in Drogheda, within it’s surroundings and explore the potentials relationships between them.  McLoughlin’s arts practice involves soundwork, drawings, sculptural objects, video and installations. A recurring element in the work he has made over the last 20 years has focused on what brings groups of people together, what is the connection that drives them, where does the balance between personal relationships, friendships, ideas, ideals or common goals lie. What is the actual common bond? This project was generously funded by the Arts Council of Ireland.