Some facts about the Society

The Society was founded in 1870 in Lismore, Co Waterford and in the following year held its first exhibition in the courthouse there.

From 1871 to 1890 further exhibtions were held at various locations but in 1891 they were moved permanently to Dublin.

The Society's present title was adopted in 1888.

The stated objective of the Society is : "to promote and develop nationally the use and appreciation of watercolour and associated media amoung artists, students and the general public."

The business and affairs of the Society are managed by a committee of members elected every three years comprising three officers and at least nine other members. All work is done on a voluntary basis.

The Society has two sources of income: the members subscription fees and the commission charged on all works sold at the annual exhibition.

Membership of the Society is conferred by the Committee in secret ballot following review of a substantial portfolio of work submitted by the applicant.

The national collection of the Society was founded in 1993 and is housed in Limerick University, where it is on permanent exhibition. In 2009 The University published an illustrated book of the collection.

  In 1994 the Society published "Exhibition List 1872-1994" giving details of all works exhibited in those years - artists' names and addresses, title of the work and sale price. The list records almost 25,000 works by 1,200 artists, including most of the prominent watercolourists of their day. It is an invaluable source of reference.

'The Silent Companion – An illustrated History of The Water Colour Society of Ireland' by Patricia Butler was launched at The National Gallery of Ireland 27th September 2010.