Age and disability are no barrier in Limerick art class

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

Painting a pretty picture: Paddy Carroll and Seamus Geehan, seated at front, with some of their paintings for the exhibition at Friar's Gate, with their fellow artists. Picture: Michael Cowhey
THE POWER of art in enhancing people’s lives is clearly evident in an exhibition which is to open in Kilmallock next weekend, featuring works by a 96-year-old retired farmer and a 34-year-old man who was left paralysed after a fall.

THE POWER of art in enhancing people’s lives is clearly evident in an exhibition which is to open in Kilmallock next weekend, featuring works by a 96-year-old retired farmer and a 34-year-old man who was left paralysed after a fall.

The exhibition entitled, Painting through the Years, which focuses on landscape painting and individual expression, celebrates the creativity of residents of Maria Goretti nursing home in Kilmallock.

“I was kind of brought to the class kicking and screaming at first,” joked Seamus Geehan, “but I like it now. I enjoy it.”

Seamus, who was left paralysed from below the shoulders after a fall around five and a half years ago, has excelled in the class which is given by art therapist Peter Lunn.

“I would paint anything,” Seamus points out.

“Peter gives us photos and we can pick out whichever one we want and we work away. It’s good fun with the older residents. You’d be amazed when you start talking to them the stories they have - what they have done and what they have seen. They would surprise you.”

Seamus has completed two paintings which will both be going on display as part of the exhibition - one of a pot of flowers, on canvas, and the other is a landscape scene.

While the Croom man has been sick over the past number of days, he is hoping to be in fine fettle by the time Friday, August 7 comes round.

“I’m usually up every day and I get out and about a few times a week. I hope to get out to the exhibition - it all depends on the health,” he explains.

A total of 16 residents avail of art classes on a weekly basis at the nursing home.

“Ten take part in individual art and then we do group therapy for people with dementia and there are six people in that,” explains Catherine O’Flynn, activity coordinator.

“We have 16 presenting the paintings at the exhibition. The group will have one large piece - they will paint different stencils and we sort them into one large piece. Basically we are looking for a butterfly moment for someone with dementia where we can connect with them. For the rest, it is a more advanced class,” she explains.

Despite suffering with arthritis in both his hands Paddy Carroll, 96, from Shanballymore is enjoying his art class.

“I paint everything – a donkey and cart going to the creamery long ago. I do the painting every Tuesday – I enjoy it. It’s great,” says Paddy who never painted prior to moving to Maria Goretti nursing home.

“I’ve no pain,” he points out. “I work it put alright,” he adds.