Phoney Art Gallery

The smallest gallery in Ireland!

By Louise Whelan

Penny Stuart

Local artist Penny Stuart had an epiphany when she spotted the old historic Irish telephone box while she was having lunch in the Fair Play Cafe, and the idea sparked about using it as an art gallery.  This brilliant plan that was forming in her mind would showcase her new art exhibition which was inspired by James Joyce’s most famous short story ‘The Dead,’ called, ‘The Ghost of Michael Fury’.  The exhibition would run from December to the end of January 2024.

Val Houlden, Penny Stuart, Lynn McCutcheon and John Gormley

Created over a period of 10 years in Dublin and Berlin, Penny’s compositions, at times wild and dark, allowed us with our 21st century gaze to reconnect with Joyce’s unique depiction of Dubliners of the 1900’s.

Penny’s collection of drawings captured that sense of escape from the body’s physical ties to the realm of the imagined.  Passion, connection, wit, and the mind’s meandering and feelings evoked by a piece of music, were all transported on paper for everyone to see.  These raw, charcoal sketches were turned into small A5 prints to fit inside each pane of the telephone box and larger framed pictures were hung on the walls and even had one on the unique upside down table and chair on the ceiling!

Speaking at the launch, Penny remarked on an incredible set up in the cafe and she thanked Joe and Sharon Donnelly for allowing her idea to come to life, also mentioning how James Joyce’s words are so powerful in his stories but somehow match her pictures very easily and work really well.  Penny also hopes what will happen from here on out, is that local people who pick up a paintbrush can go and show their work in the same way.  The phone box is not an exclusive space to one type of art.  It is a space for budding artists around the local areas to show their creative side in their own special way.

Joe Donnelly and Sharon Donnelly

Penny is now working on her next art project which is another one of James Joyce’s stories called Evelyn.

Joe Donnelly voiced that he jumped at the chance to show Penny’s work in the telephone box, showing the talent and passion that Penny has for what she does, adding that the cafe is planning on doing several exhibitions throughout the year, tying in with important issues, including working with transition year students and various school groups.

So keep up with Fair Play Cafe on the social media platforms for more information on having your artwork exhibited in the brilliant, smallest gallery in Ireland.

To get in contact with Penny Stuart about her wonderful artwork or to view all of her sketches, check out her Instagram @the_penny_gallery or email