Sabina Coyne, now Sabina Higgins, was born in Cloonraine on the Galway-Mayo border and went to school in Ballindine and Claremorris, Co. Mayo. At 18, Sabina moved to Dublin to work in the office of the Land Commission. She began to study acting using the Stanislavsky method under Deirdre O'Connell who had trained at the Actor's Studio in New York. Sabina was bridesmaid at Deirdre O Connell's wedding to singer Luke Kelly and became, with Deirdre, one of the founder members of the Focus Theatre where she worked with Tom Hickey, Timmy McDonald, Mary Elizabeth Burke Kennedy, Joan Bergin and many others.
Sabina met Michael D. Higgins at a party in Dublin and in 1974 they were married in Dublin's Haddington Road Church. Sabina moved to Galway, where in addition to working as a partner with Michael D. in every campaign and in public life for over thirty years, she maintained her involvement with theatre and community arts, working with Druid, An Taibhearch and other groups. Sabina was also very active in community initiatives in Galway and in the setting up of Parents' Councils on a local and national level to promote parents as partners in education.
She returned to education as a mature student and has received a BA in Arts and an MA in Theatre from NUI Galway.
Sabina and Michael D. have four children: one daughter and three sons.
Oliver Dowling is an independent contemporary visual art curator with comprehensive experience representing Irish artists, galleries and public institutions. He specialises in curating exhibitions, advising on policy and forming collections. He started his curatorial career with the Arts Council in and worked on, among others, the early ROSC exhibitions 1967 and 1971. He was Director of the Oliver Dowling Gallery, Dublin from 1975 to 1995 showing Irish and International artists and, among other roles, was Visual Arts Specialist to the Arts Council from 1997 to 2006. He has curated and co-curated several major exhibitions including Shifting Ground, Irish Art 1950-2000 at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and also has contributed to a number of publications. He is a visiting lecturer on the MA course in Visual Culture at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire. He is currently a board member of Irish Visual Artists Rights Organisation, Dublin Contemporary and on the board of Trustees of the Dublin City Gallery, the Hugh Lane.
A former journalist with the Irish Times, Robert O'Byrne now writes columns for both the Irish Arts Review and Apollo magazine. He is the author of a number of books, including a biography of Sir Hugh Lane (2000) A History of the Irish Georgian Society (2008) and a Dictionary of Living Irish Artists (2010).
Gemma Tipton is a writer and critic of art and architecture. She writes for the Irish Times and Artforum, appears on radio and television, and has published numerous books on art and contemporary culture. Gemma also works as an independent curator: her most recent exhibition The Horse Show was at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin earlier this year. She is currently Guest Artistic Director at the Kinsale Arts Festival 2012.
Dr. Peter Cherry
Dr. Peter Cherry is a lecturer at the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Trinity College Dublin. He teaches undergraduate courses on the painting and sculpture of the Italian Renaissance, painting and sculpture in seventeenth-century Europe and on art and religion in the Hispanic world. He is particularly interested in the history of still-life and genre painting in Spain and Italy, and he has been involved in a number of exhibitions in this area. His current research interests generally focus on the visual art of seventeenth-century Spain and include the production, market and functions of different types of visual art; the techniques of art; art and patronage in Seville; Velázquez and his circle; and, more recently, the relationship between art and plague.