Paul O’Connell donates autographed chair for charity

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Artist Una Heaton with Munster star Paul O'Connell as he signs his 'leather lounge chair' for the celebrity charity chair auction. Picture: Michael Cowhey
AMONG many celebrities from around Ireland and beyond, Munster rugby star Paul O’Connell will have an autographed chair auctioned at Dromoland Castle this week.

AMONG many celebrities from around Ireland and beyond, Munster rugby star Paul O’Connell will have an autographed chair auctioned at Dromoland Castle this week.

The hotel will host a charity auction gala night, where 50 autographed chairs will be up for open and silent auction, this Friday October 25 in aid of the Parkinson’s Association.

Painted by Limerick city artist Una Heaton, Paul O’Connell’s “leather lounge chair” will be one of 15 “special” chairs to be up for open auction, while the remaining 35 will be up for silent auction, according to organisers.

Organiser Maria Nolan said many famous names, including boxing icon Muhammad Ali, have contributed to the charity auction, which takes place after the gala dinner.

“It’s a night in Dromoland Castle, where there is going to be a gala dinner with a five-course-meal, a champagne reception, followed by an auction of 50 chairs. We have 15 chairs going for auction, but the rest will be on silent auction, so we’re picking the 15 most exciting chairs for the big auction. Paul O’Connell’s chair will definitely be amongst the 15.

“We have a wide selection of celebrities who contributed to the night. We have Muhammad Ali, Michael J Fox - they suffer from Parkinson’s. In sports we have Katie Taylor, John Hayes and Padraig Harrington. In music, we have got a great one from Imelda May and another from Daniel O’Donnell. The chairs are so interesting and they are very colourful. The Limerick art college did 10 chairs for us and they are absolutely fabulous. On top of that, we have Enda Kenny, Joe Duffy, Miriam O’Callaghan, and we even have a Father Ted chair, where Ardal O’Hanlon has given his autograph,” Ms Nolan said.

She added that many artists submitted the chair fabric to the celebrities and they sent the autographed fabric back. The artists would then weave them back into the chair. However, Ms Nolan believes that the chairs that are directly signed “look so much better”.

Una Heaton said, upon request, she decided to take part in the auction, as she found out other artists from around the country contributed art work.

She said the rugby player, who was awarded Freedom of Limerick city last year, was “very obliging” when asked to sign the chair for charity.

“He thought it was a great idea. He was flying and training, so I couldn’t get him to stop for a chat, but he was more than happy to do it. I thought it was great that he got involved, especially when it’s for a good cause. I was invited to do it, so I thought Paul O’Connell would have been perfect for it because he is a great rugby icon and a great ambassador for Limerick. It was simple to get him involved. He was very obliging. He’s an absolute gent.”

Maria Nolan said viewings for the 50 chairs started on October 18 and will finish on Thursday, October 24. The gala dinner, which costs €75 a ticket, will start at 7pm on Friday, October 26.

The event will be hosted by TV3’s Noel Cunningham. Proceeds go to training of Parkinson’s nurse specialists.