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Kildare Nationalist: Series of serendipitous events leads to opening of new Kildare gallery

In the early days of the pandemic, accountant Frank McMahon from Kildare town was in a supermarket’s middle aisle when he spotted art supplies. Thinking that he and the family might enjoy a creative outlet under lockdown, he gathered up paint, brushes, and canvasses and dropped them into the trolley. Little did he know that spur of the moment decision would take him in a new direction, both personally and professionally.

As Frank was getting to grips with his newfound love of painting, across the Curragh in Newbridge the idea for an artist-led collective was being formed. SULT Artists came about when professional artists Eleanor Swan and Mary McGrath recognised that their usual retail and gallery spaces were closing indefinitely. They drew together seven of Kildare’s finest artists – Margaret Becker, Ann McKenna, Pamela de Brí, Sylvia Hemmingway, Lia Laimbock, Liza Kavanagh and Brian O’Loughlin – and joined forces to promote and sell their work online.

By the end of 2020, the group had held their first collective exhibition in Naas, and within another six months had relocated to a six-month residency in a retail space on Market Square, Kildare town. SULT’s very successful ‘Life Goes On’ exhibition at Bord na Móna headquarters followed in May of this year but with no retail space available, the group was considering next steps.

Meanwhile, Frank was on a family holiday in Wexford in late July when he and his wife Laura wandered into a gallery and struck up a conversation with the owner. That conversation drove Frank to take the leap.

Within two weeks of returning home from holiday, Frank had cleared out an empty retail space next to his business McMahon & Co. Accountants, engaged friend and expert carpenter Brendan McGee to manage the framing part of the business, and set about convincing SULT Artists to collaborate on the gallery for year one.

SULT, impressed by Frank’s passion and no-nonsense approach, eagerly signed on and suggested he engage SULT’s digital partner Aoife Brennan to create a website and start marketing efforts straight away.

No. 8 Gallery and Framing opened its doors for the first time on Friday 2 September and was officially opened on Culture Night, Friday 23 September. A resounding success, the event was catered by Academy Street neighbours Mary-Kathryn’s Deli and attended by over 200 art lovers and collectors who all agreed it was great to see a fine art gallery in Kildare town.

“I have real love for my accounting business and have a great client base but found engaging the other side of my brain through art especially rewarding,” Frank said. “I thought if I could bring some of my passion for art to Kildare town with No. 8 Gallery, and provide a much-needed bespoke framing service, it could have a long-lasting impact for both a local artist community and the upcoming generation of artists. So far, and we are still early days, it has been an extremely rewarding and positive experience!”

You can visit No. 8 Gallery and Framing at 8 Academy Court, Academy Street, Kildare town. Check out and for up-to-date news and to follow on social media.


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