#OTD in 1924 – The first Olympic medal won by the Irish Free State was a silver medal, awarded to Jack Butler Yeats for his 1923 painting The Liffey Swim. 

Between 1912 and 1948 the arts took pride of place alongside sporting events in the Olympic Games. The arts section was broken down into five categories: architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture. 
Ultimately the fledgling Irish State only took home two medals from the 1924 Olympic Games. Both of these were from the arts categories: Yeats’ silver medal for The Liffey Swim and a bronze medal in literature for Irish poet Oliver St. John Gogarty for his poem Ode to the Tailteann Games. Overall, Ireland came joint fourth, with Denmark,in the arts section. Although Yeats was the first Irish artist of the twentieth century to sell for over £1,000,000 the silver medal did not initially lead to a sale. In 1925 The Liffey Swim was exhibited in the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, with a £300 price tag. It wasn’t until December 1930 that the painting finally sold, for £250 to the Haverty Bequest Fund, who presented the painting to the National Gallery of Ireland in 1931.

Image | The Liffey Swim by Jack Yeats | National Gallery of Ireland

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