Limerick’s Willie O’Dea meets his namesake

Anne Sheridan


Anne Sheridan

FOR the second year in a row, Willie O’Dea, the TD, came face-to-face with his namesake. And both men couldn’t help but smile.

FOR the second year in a row, Willie O’Dea, the TD, came face-to-face with his namesake. And both men couldn’t help but smile.

In the Raggle Taggle art studio on Sarsfield Street, the former Fianna Fail minister met another Willie O’Dea  - a 53 year-old artist from Kildimo, who is a service user with the Brothers of Charity, for men with intellectual disabilities. 

The deputy bought Willie’s portrait of him, and like the previous work he was presented with, it too will hang in his constituency office.

“It’s a very worthwhile cause, and there’s been huge interest in this exhibition around town. A lot of people have said to me ‘Have you not called in to see your portrait yet?’ I’ve promised half the town I’d call in so here I am.

“Last year’s portrait has taken pride of place in my office, and all my constituents who call in to me can see it as well, and this one will go up there as well. I think it’s very good. It’s how my wife sees me,” he said, with a laugh.

The artist Willie said he was glad the deputy liked his latest portrait of him, and is a great “fan” of his.

Ten men, some of whom have no formal means of communication, exhibited their art work in the gallery, under the title of the exhibition is ‘Art from the heart - why does it need a name?’, as they are urging the public not to put a label on art or people, regardless of their perceived disabilities.

Those who visit the exhibition were also encouraged to place their fingerprint on the wall, under the banner ‘Everyone’s different’ to show that no two people leave the same mark.

Two-thirds of the money raised through the art sale will go directly to the artists themselves, while the remaining third will be donated to the Brothers of Charity.

Mark Conway, 34, from Bengal Terrace, was among the exhibiting artists, but he chose to display handcrafted models of a train and navy ship, which took up to four months to build after he visualised just one image of his subjects.

“It looks so much like the genuine article that I don’t think a lot of people appreciate that he has managed to do this straight out of his head, exactly to scale, without looking up any dimensions. He is a genius, he just hasn’t been discovered yet,” said a spokesperson for the charity.

Artist Amanda Clifford who has worked with the men over a number of years said art “is a wonderful way for them to express their inner feelings without having to use words.

“The title came from my students - when I asked them what titles they wanted on their work, they replied - “Why does it need a name? Why can’t people look at it and make up their own mind?”

“This truly is ‘Art from the Heart’ - these men have a wonderful freedom in that they are not worried how others see their work. They simply enjoy doing it.” 

Ms Clifford said the exhibition was intended to give the men “a voice” and to show the community how they see the world. 

The exhibition has now ended.