Irish Sky Garden

Artist Name(s) James Turrell
Artwork title Irish Sky Garden
Context/Background Lios Aird (Gaelic meaning high fort) is located on the original site of a ring fort and souterrain, with a commanding outlook over the surrounding countryside.  Liss Ard Estate, Co Cork was founded in 1990 by art dealers/collectors Claudia and Veith Turske. They created public gardens, with waterfalls, arboretums with 10,000 newly-planted trees and had plans to create further land artworks after James Turrell’s installation, but the estate has since been taken over by art dealer Roman Stern. Liss Ard also hosted a number of eclectic music and performance international events and festivals in the late 1990s, early 2000s.

The Irish Sky Garden is a giant earth and stone crater embedded into the landscape of the Liss Ard Estate gardens. The artwork consists of an archway, a long megalithic-like passage, and stairs leading to an oval shaped, grass-lined crater, which measures 50 x 25 metres. In the centre of the crater’s ‘bowl’ is a large stone 'vault purchase' or plinth (not unlike an Egyptian sarcophagus). This is where the visitor should lie back and look at the sky, which is framed by the edges of the elliptical crater.

The most important thing is that inside turns into outside and the other way around, in the sense that relationships between the Irish landscape and the Irish sky changes” (James Turrell).


Raymund Ryan, ‘The World Inside Out, James Turrell in Ireland’, Tracings I, Spring 2000, pp.18-29.


American artist James Turrell was born on 6 May1943, in Los Angeles, California. He is a graduate of University of California (BA, 1966) and Claremont Graduate School (M.A, 1973). He has been the recipient of innumerable awards, honours, commissions and fellowships from across the globe, in both art and architecture.

For over half a century, Turrell has worked directly with light and space to create land art and other artworks that engage viewers with the ‘limits and wonder of human perception’. Turrell, an avid pilot who has logged over twelve thousand hours flying, considers the sky his studio, material and canvas.

New Yorker critic Calvin Tompkins writes, “His work is not about light, or a record of light; it is light — the physical presence of light made manifest in sensory form.”


Commission Type Private Commission
Commissioner Name Claudia and Veith Turske
Commissioning process Curated, invited commission
Artform Visual Arts
Funded By Private
Location Skibbereen, Co Cork
County Cork
Town Skibbereen
Street Address Liss Ard Estate
Content contributor(s) Web editor
Relationship to project
Public engagement

The Irish Sky Garden crater is opens daily throughout the year until 11pm. Guided tours cost €5 per person, booking is advisable.



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Nazareth Housing Association provides independent living houses for individuals and couples who are 65 and over and on the Sligo County Council housing list.  Nazareth Village is comprised of 48 houses in a garden setting.  The Village was financed as a public-private partnership between Nazareth Housing Association and Sligo County Council with funding from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.  

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