Over two floors, the Aisling Gallery showcases Ireland’s dramatic scenery from the epic heights of the Cliffs of Moher to the bustling streets of it’s capital city Dublin, through an eclectic mix of landscape, classic and abstract art pieces. ‘Aisling’ a popular Gaelic name translates as ‘dream’ in English and is the perfect name for an exhibition space that allows visitors to connect and discover Ireland without ever getting on a plane.
The quaint residential style gallery, located just south of Boston city, is owned by Irish-American couple, Maureen and John Connolly.
Maureen, a native of County Kerry emigrated to America in the early 60’s to live with her aunt. A few years later, on a night out at Boston’s legendary Dudley Square she met John, a first generation Irish American.
“God, I should have stayed home that night” Maureen teasingly says in her soft Kerry accent.
The couple married in 1969 and raised their two daughters in the beautiful colonial town of Hingham on the south shore where the Aisling Gallery is located.
It wasn’t until the late 80’s when during a family holiday to see Maureen’s family in her home village of Castlegregory, Co.Kerry that the idea for owning a gallery first took hold.
“There were artists there... three English women and a German lady who kept asking if there was anywhere in America that could sell their art.” John recalls. Already in possession of the building which now houses the gallery, it seemed like a perfect business opportunity. However, his wife needed some convincing.
“I never originally wanted the gallery” Maureen admitted with a laugh before adding “but I do love it.”
The Aisling Gallery opened its doors in 1989 and since then, the Connolly’s have never looked back.
Along with exhibiting art pieces inspired by Ireland at their Hingham store, the couple travelled the length and breadth of America showcasing the best of their exhibitions at various Irish festivals.
A glamorous job some might think but John, now a veteran of such events admits “those festivals are hard-work. They start at 10am every day and don’t finish until 11 o’clock at night.”
However, those years on the road and long hours have paid off for the hard-working duo.
The Aisling Gallery which exhibits pieces by celebrated Irish painter, Vincent Crotty is now regarded as the premier place to visit on the East Coast for Irish inspired art .
Along with their principal business, the Connolly’s have used their position in the community to create awareness of other forms of Irish culture such as history, music, literature and the Irish language. Over the years, the couple have hosted a variety of events from tin-whistle lessons to Irish history classes, from traditional Irish Seisiúns to Irish literature evenings. They have committed their gallery space to local Irish heritage, language and culture groups and continually support fundraisers and events within the Irish American community.
Both are quick to brush off any praise for their tireless dedication to promoting the Irish culture and John humbly says that their efforts are simply “to keep it (Irish culture) alive.”
After two decades selling Irish art in America, the husband and wife team believe the success of their business lies in the emotional connection to Ireland that the art in their gallery evokes.
“They are buying a piece of Ireland” Maureen mused whilst John has seen a change in attitude towards Irish arts saying “there’s an appreciation for this now.”
One might also suggest that it is the Connolly’s warm and welcoming demeanour and their likeable personalities which has been the real secret behind their success.
To celebrate their 25th anniversary, the Aisling Gallery is hosting a one day tent sale of their amazing selection of Irish art on June 21 from 11am to 3pm. There will be live Irish music and a portion of all the proceeds will go to benefit the Hingham Food Pantry. All are welcome to attend.