HP40: Hot Press Covers Exhibition Unveiled

To celebrate their 40th anniversary, Hot Press have unveiled their Covers Exhibition in the National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar.

Run in conjunction with the National Library of Ireland, the exhibition displays iconic covers from the magazine’s four decades of  music, cultural and political journalism.

On display are signed hand-restored prints of the magazine’s covers ranging from Bob Dylan to Christy Moore, Enya to Oasis, Ed Sheeran to Kurt Cobain.

Launched by President Michael D. Higgins, editor Niall Stokes, Bob Geldof and Imelda May were on hand to unveil the exhibition, which will run until September and is free of charge.

Hot Press Covers Exhibiton. Photo Credit: Darragh McKiernan
Hot Press Covers Exhibition. Photo Credit: Darragh McKiernan.


Hot Press has been an Irish institution since its first release in June, 1977 and has been a constant voice amid the changing Ireland of the past four decades.

Writing on HotPress.com, editor Niall Stokes recalled the trials and tribulations of getting the first issue of the magazine off the ground:

I remember the run-in to the first issue of Hot Press almost as if it were yesterday. There were so many obstacles plonked in our way even before we had begun to think of getting off the ground that a less resolute crew might have shrivelled up and died. But we were like the proverbial scorpions. It made no difference what boulders fate threw at us. We found our way out from under the rocks

President Michael D. Higgins, who wrote for the magazine for 10 years, spoke of how the publication was “counter culture at its best” saying that the “importance of Hot Press was that it engaged with all the significant social changes that were taking place in decades that were the decades of greatest change.”

In his piece, Stokes goes on to discuss the changing world of graphic design, as well as writing as a whole:

It is impossible to convey in mere words the difference between then and now for graphic designers. I’m not saying that life is a doddle for the maestros of InDesign and Photoshop who ply their trade these days. No indeed. But back in 1977 it was pure hell. Every. Thing. Had. To. Be. Done. Deliber. A. Tely. By. Hand…

…And when some previously undetected dyslexic (even the teachers didn’t know how to spell that in 1977) mangled a word like ‘dilebratley’ then you were literally back to the drawing goard – sorry board (see how easy that is now!).


Hot Press Covers Exhibition. Photo Credit: Darragh McKiernan
Hot Press Covers Exhibition. Photo Credit: Darragh McKiernan.

Hot Press have never been slow to voice their opinion on the issues of the day.

Stokes recalls their cover in the 80’s; AIDS: Don’t Die of Ignorance becoming a milestone: “making something – that no one else seemed to want to talk about at the time – visible in over three thousand shops all over Ireland”.

He also noted some of the more recent issues the magazine has spoken out on:

Even I am surprised at how consistently we campaigned for gay rights at every stage of that long and difficult battle – culminating in the double-whammy of two covers, with same sex couples kissing, in the week before the Marriage Equality referendum.


The magazine has also become well known for its tributes to the famous faces that have passed:

…from Elvis Presley dying in the year of our launch in 1977 through Bob Marley, Dublin hero Philip Lynott, the great Rory Gallagher, our own beloved Bill Graham, Kurt Cobain and RTÉ’s Gerry Ryan, on to David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen last year, they were all cover stars. And so they remain.

Hot Press Covers Exhibition. Photo Credit: Darragh Mckiernan.
Hot Press Covers Exhibition. Photo Credit: Darragh McKiernan.

The exhibition is free of charge and open from Monday-Saturday, 10am to 5pm, and Sunday from noon to 5pm.

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