Artist Clare Hartigan captures some of Limerick's finest for new exhibition

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

Well known Limerick faces in their own right: Clare and Barbara Hartigan, Castleconnell

Well known Limerick faces in their own right: Clare and Barbara Hartigan, Castleconnell

CASTLECONNELL artist Clare Hartigan has taken a trip down memory lane and explored her own personal relationship with Limerick for her new show.

Red Ribbons and Other Stories was officially opened last week in Istabraq Hall in City Hall. It features a number of stunning portraits of well-known Limerick faces including Jim Kemmy, Richard Harris and Anthony Foley.

“The last time I put together a body of paintings, specifically for Limerick, was 17 years ago. For me, this particular exhibition has been a very long time coming. I am both pleased and honoured to have been asked to create the opening show to celebrate the re-opening of Istabraq Hall as an art space.

“The title of the show explores the idea of how most things have two sides. Red ribbons remind me of childhood, happy moments, love, celebration and even openings.

“However, as with anything positive, we have to take care of how easily those red ribbons can turn into - binding, restrictive and suffocating red tape. As an artist I can only speak from a position that I know,” she explained.

This exhibition started after a conversation with Conn Murray, council chief executive, that evolved around, “Our connection and the symbol of the river Shannon to Limerick city, both positive and negative. The importance and the ability to have the freedom to be honest in both the arts and in life became apparent.”

For the subjects of this series, Clare chose a number of well-known Limerick people who have stood out to her for different reasons. There are up to 30 portraits on display.

“What has struck me most, as I have taken this journey, is the stories that are told by those of us lucky enough to have met them or to have seen them in action.

“What they stood for says more about Limerick than I think I ever could and in all honesty it has been heart warming.”

Portrait painting is in her blood as mum Barbara is renowned for capturing a person’s visage on canvas.

“​It is one of the most challenging things you can do as an artist. In terms of loving a challenge, the apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree.

“Mum taught me for years how to paint and she covered everything from still life to portraiture,” said Clare, who thanked Mr Murray for his vision, her wonderful curator and buildings manager Paudi Power and Tina Knox for all the hard work.