O’Dea the TD meets Willie the artist

Owen Hickey

Reporter:

Owen Hickey

Breezing into the art gallery shortly after 3pm, all eyes turned to Willie O’Dea, TD, as he arrived to purchase a piece of art from his namesake.

Breezing into the art gallery shortly after 3pm, all eyes turned to Willie O’Dea, TD, as he arrived to purchase a piece of art from his namesake.

The drawing was part of the ‘Art from the Heart, Why does it need a Name?’ exhibition, which was unveiled at the Raggle Taggle Studios in Limerick city centre last week.

It featured the works of a group of men under the stewardship of Amanda Clifford, who worked with them for the past year. In all, eight artists had their works on display, but the one who received the most publicity was a certain Willie O’Dea.

Not the TD and former minister of defence mind you, but the talented Mr O’Dea from Clonmore.

Contact was made with Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson for Enterprise, Jobs and Communication, who was more than happy to come along and buy the painting.

Witty as ever, Mr O’ Dea was impressed with the painting which was presented to him by the artist.

“It shows quite a lot of imagination and I have to compliment it. I’m glad there is one Willie O’Dea with an imagination and the whole country will be relieved to hear that there’s a Willie O’Dea with an artistic side!”

Qualified as an accountant, it seems Mr O’Dea chose the right career, as he revealed he doesn’t exactly excel when it comes to art.

“Oh there’s no contest at all. I can’t even draw a straight line! I love art, I’m one of those people that likes art but I’m useless at drawing,” he laughed.

“I’m also a fan of music but I can’t play, I can’t sing and I can’t dance!”

Amanda Clifford, who holds a degree in psychotherapy, worked with the artists and her background helped her form a connection with the group, many of whom have intellectual disabilities. According to Ms Clifford, it was amazing to see how the men expressed themselves through their works.

“The lads are wonderful, very enthusiastic and they really don’t care what anybody thinks about their art. They just want to enjoy it and show off their work,” she said.

“I think most people have boundaries when it comes to doing art, but they don’t. They’re very free about themselves and it’s a pleasure teaching them.”

Mark Conway produced 11 works for the exhibition, one of which was a replica of a Garda helicopter. He presented this to local Gardaí Mairead Hayes and Denise Haverty.

Each of the pieces of art were unnamed, as the theme of the exhibtion focused on how art does not need a name.

All items in the exhibition were sold, with 70 percent going to the artists themselves and 30 percent to the Brothers of Charity, who provide services to people with intellectual disabilities.