Ogham Art | Your Presence Written in the Past
Ogham Art | Your Presence Written in the Past
Cart 0

Dublin Zoo Uses Artist’s Work Without 

Permission or Recognition in Major Installation

Look familiar? We think so. But the Dublin Zoo denies copying.

We were horrified to discover that exact replicas of Ogham Art artist Colleen Berry Conway's artistic Ogham renderings were used in the Dublin Zoo Wild Lights 2019 festival without permission or acknowledgement. After weeks of communication between Ogham Art’s legal counsel and the counsel of the Dublin Zoo, the consistent response was that the Ogham alphabet can not be copyrighted and therefore, any artistic rendering is not protectable. As of January 30, 2020, the Zoo communicated that it no longer wants to engage in any correspondence on the matter. 

Modern Ogham is art. And art is protectable.

While Ogham Art completely agrees that the ancient Irish alphabet of Ogham itself is not protectable, it is undeniable that a unique and aesthetic painting style is not to be copied without consent. Despite providing irrefutable proof that the lanterns are identical copies of Colleen's brushstrokes, the zoo maintained that the lanterns are different in their depiction of the alphabet and refuse credit or recognition.

Over the course of nearly 3 weeks, Colleen and her legal counsel proposed many options to the Dublin Zoo to acknowledge her contributions to the installation without coming out and admitting artistic theft.  Each option was denied. What should have been and could have been a life and business-changing opportunity ("Look, Ma! I'm featured at the Dublin Zoo!!") turned into a heartbreaking denial of celebration. Colleen's Ogham renderings were clearly good enough for 200,000+ paying guests of the zoo but not good enough to be recognized as her own. 


Colleen has received and is seeking continued support from Irish organizations and arts advocacy groups to champion her cause. If you are interested in discussing how you can be a part of her campaign, please email info@oghamart.com or call 860-426-2881.

Disclaimer: Ogham Art here offers publicly available examples of other Ogham artists' works to encourage fair and robust public discourse and support for the premise that Ogham is Art and is protectable. We seek to emphasize by comparison the creative aspects of their work, to credit their work, to encourage people to visit their sites, buy their unique wares, and support the viability of Ogham as an art form as well as to emphasize the differences between various Ogham artists' work (and by extension the zoo's targeting and copying of Ms. Conway's work). All rights and copyrights thereto belong and remain with those artists and no claim is intended or made to reproduce or use those works by Ogham Art for any purpose other than fair use, public discourse, and commentary.

Through a passionate and aggressive campaign, Ogham Art is soliciting the support of many....artists, customers, entrepreneurs, Irish-Americans & the Irish diaspora, Celtophiles around the world. They are also seeking the support of those who feel that such a reputable and admirable institution such as the Dublin Zoo should be held to a higher standard. Their commitment to wildlife is unwavering but it shouldn't end there. The integrity of their conservation projects should be extended to any and all exhibits seen by their 1 million annual visitors, including their Wild Lights experience.

The modern cultural relevance of Ogham is greatly dependent on the vitality of a proud group of dedicated and passionate Ogham artists spreading the pride of Irish heritage. If Ogham as an art form is marginalized, these artists and their craft will disappear. The Dublin Zoo has marginalized Ogham as an art form and has dismissed those who have dedicated their lives to preserving Irish history and heritage by claiming that any original artistic presentation of Ogham by individuals is not protectable because the Ogham alphabet itself is not protectable.

This is where the court of public opinion plays a role. In this David versus Goliath scenario, Colleen is using social media and the press (here and abroad) to seek support of those disturbed by the Zoo's actions.

February 16, 2020 

The Sunday Times: Ireland Edition

In the images throughout this page, you will see side-by-side examples of each of the eight (8) lanterns:

1st IMAGE: Dublin Zoo Wild Lights Ogham lantern
2nd IMAGE: Colleen's painting as printed, matted, and framed
3rd IMAGE: Overlay of Colleen's original Ogham painting on the lantern

4th IMAGE: (if applicable): Artistic rendering of same word in Ogham by Ethel Kelly of Ogham Wishes (to emphasize the differences between various Ogham artists' work)

Dublin Zoo Wild Lights Ogham Lantern Health Slainte

If you agree that these lanterns are exact replicas of Colleen's artwork and should be protectable and not used without permission or credit, please take a moment to have your opinion heard. 

 Please call, email, engage on social media or visit the zoo and its board of directors and tell them to respect Ogham as an art form celebrating Irish heritage and to respect small artists’ rights.



Dublin Zoo

Wild Lights


@DublinZoo (FB and Twitter) @dublinzoo_official (Instagram)

#OghamIsArt #Ogham #OghamArt #ArtistsRights #OriginalArt

Ogham Artist Colleen Berry Conway with Her Original Art Used by the Dublin Zoo without Permission or Credit

Ogham artist Colleen Berry Conway with her eight (8) original Ogham creations that were used in the Dublin Zoo Wild Lights 2019 installation without permission, credit or remuneration. 

Here's what the Court of Public Opinion has to say so far....

“While the Ogham is indeed an alphabet and open to public use, each artist has their own flair and Ogham art becomes much 

like a fingerprint, beautifully unique to the individual. The manner in which you have blatantly plagiarized her work is appalling and the fact that your organization has refused to rectify the situation shows exactly the character of those in charge. 

You have taken what could have been an amazing opportunity for an artist, having her work displayed proudly and prominently, and robbed Ms. Conway not only of that opportunity, but of her labor 

of love and her artwork as well….Shame on you.” - Elle D.

“As a supporter of Ogham Art & Colleen Conway, I find it appallingly dishonorable that the Dublin Zoo has so obviously taken 

it upon themselves to make exact replicas 

of Ms Conway's work, literally to the brushstroke with so little regard to true artistry, disregarding copyrighted art created as well as neglecting to give credit where credit is due AND by gaining financially at her expense. You should be ashamed of yourselves.” - Chris T.

“How awful! This needs to be stopped now.” - Mark M.

“It's understood that an alphabet can't be copyrighted, but the artistic use of that alphabet certainly can. How in good conscience can the Dublin Zoo steal Colleen Conway's work? The Dublin Zoo obviously liked the work enough to use it then give her credit - give her compensation.” 

- Mary-Ellen V.

“You owe her an apology, publicity, and probably compensation for her composition. I would hope that your institution would make this right with her, and give her the credit she is due.” - Jen D.

For 20 years, Ethel Kelly of County Roscommon has been creating Ogham Wishes, her award-winning art that is individually and meticulously painted on handmade paper. Learn more about Ethel's unique artistic rendering of the Ogham alphabet including her signature diagonal brushstrokes at www.OghamWish.com.