The Derry Architect who turned his lockdown project into a business
Tom Cosgrove is an architect from Derry who started sharing his art online when lockdown began last year and has had great success all over the world.
He creates colourful prints of recognisable places in Derry, and almost dream-like locations, often with the Irish language incorporated into it.
Tom explains, “I am an Architect by day, and Illustrator by night. I started a side hustle which I have named “Beoigh”, the Irish verb for animate/freshen up/perk up. Beoigh’s prime objective is the promotion of the Irish language through representation through the medium of art.
“The art I make is really varied, the only limit or rule, is that Irish language has to be present in everything I do. I love using colour, I want to associate the Irish language with colour, joy and the craic. I want to change perception of the language to be inclusive, happy and fun to attract more people to get involved to a wee revolution the language is having.”
Tom started learning Irish around three years ago after an interaction with his granny and he uses his art as a way for him to learn new words and phrases, but also to help other Irish learners and speakers.
“I started learning Irish in memory of my Granny Gracie/Gráinne Doherty. A few months before she died, I stayed with her for one night a week on a weekly basis, and this when I got to really know her, and have the craic with her. She was from Cnoc Fola in North west Donegal where the Irish language is very strong still. She told me a little about how she would chat away with her sisters when they came to visit and how she missed that. So, I decided to listen to Fearghal Mag Uiginn and learned a few phrases to practice on my Granny for the next night. When I said, in Irish, “that was a great supper Granny”, she nearly fell out of her chair while clapping and laughing. She even called my Mammy the next day to tell her I could get job teaching in Donegal now I was that good at Irish. I knew only one phrase! From this, I could tell she was really excited that I took an interest in Irish and this has stayed with me, as my inspiration and motivation to keep going and reach fluency.”
Tom started sharing his art on Twitter and he soon gained a huge following of Irish speakers and learners. He now ships all over the world, with a lot of his prints going to America, Australia and England.
He has recently finished a full Irish language map of Donegal, adding to the map of Derry he made during the summer and he has started making Derry-themed Irish language T-shirts.