Archive for December 17th, 2009

The Shemus Cartoons

17 December 2009

Contributed by Felix M. Larkin

The latest National Library of Ireland exhibition focuses on the Shemus Cartoons. The exhibition runs from 9 December 2009 until end February 2010.

In December 2006 the National Library of Ireland acquired an archive of about 280 items by Ernest Forbes, mostly original drawings of his Shemus cartoons. Forbes (1879–1962) was an Englishman who had come to Ireland in 1920 to join the Freeman’s Journal staff.  He was later a well-known landscape artist and portrait painter in London and in his native Yorkshire. He used a number of pseudonyms in his long career, and the pseudonym ‘Shemus’ was exclusive to the Freeman’s Journal.

There was, of course, a rich heritage of newspaper cartoons in Ireland.  The wonderfully vivid and colourful cartoons published in the late nineteenth century by the Freeman’s Journal and other organs of nationalist opinion were immensely popular and are still often reproduced.  Not actually part of the newspaper, these cartoons were distributed gratis as ‘supplements’.   Read More